It’s cliché, but it’s true: we all get the same 24 hours in a day. There isn’t some magical “bonus time hack” that only certain people have access to. It’s all about managing your time and perhaps even more importantly, managing your focus.
In this article we’re going to talk about designing your day so that you can accomplish ALL of your big awesome goals! I know many of you are also building side businesses in addition to your career and I know first-hand how tough it can be to do it all. I hope that after this, you’ll feel empowered and inspired to.
“You don’t need more time in your day. You need to decide.”
Getting Your Day Dialed In
You Don’t Need More Time
I don’t know about you but that simple statement hits me like a ton of bricks. I know personally, I sometimes fall into the trap of thinking, “If I just had more time, I could do XYZ.”
But, it really is all about what you decide to focus on and how you build an environment for making that task possible. For me, this all starts with getting my day dialed in.
I feel like I absolutely need to block off my time otherwise I don’t have the direction I need to get all the things done. We’re used to being told where to go and when, and I know that when I set up my days like this, it helps SO much.
Learn How to Design Your Day
But, it’s not as easy as just saying, “Okay, from 1-2pm I’m going to do this and then from 2-3pm I’m going to do this.” Sometimes, we’re our own worst enemies and we’ll avoid doing the things we need to be doing to move the needle forward in our lives and focus on unimportant things instead. There can be many reasons for this kind of avoidance, but truly successful people know how to overcome it.
So, learning how to design your day is not just about blocking time, but also prioritizing your most important and pressing tasks.
Categorizing Your Tasks with the Eisenhower Matrix
So the Eisenhower Matrix might sound like an overly complicated thing, but this is probably something you’re doing subconsciously at some level already! When I learned about this, it was such a game changer, especially as someone in a leadership role.
But, even if you don’t manage anyone and even if you’re just in the beginning phases of trying to build a side business or trying to organize your daily tasks in a way that doesn’t drain you, this will help.
Ok, so basically you’re breaking down all of your tasks into four categories:
- Tasks that are both important and urgent (these are your “do” tasks)
- Tasks that are important but not urgent (these are your “schedule” tasks)
- Tasks that are urgent but not important (these are things you can delegate)
- Tasks that are not urgent or important (these are things you can delete)
So, things that are important are things that head to us achieving our goals, either professional or personal. Urgent things demand our immediate attention, and are usually about helping someone else achieve their goals.
A good example of something that’s both urgent and important is hitting a work deadline. It’s important for your professional growth to hit that deadline, and it’s also important for your boss or leader that you get the work done when it needs to get done.
Important but not urgent tasks are typically about relationship building. It’s important to set aside time for the people in your life, but it’s not always urgent. Exercise also falls into this category. Put it on your schedule and then when the time comes, commit to doing it.
Not important but urgent tasks are perfect to delegate to someone (or something) else. Of course, we’re not all in a place to have someone in our back pocket to delegate tasks to, but think about the appliances, smart home tools, or apps that can help you out.
For example, can you hire Postmates instead of making dinner tonight? Can you Instacart your groceries? These are examples of outsourcing so you can use that time to do the important and urgent stuff.
In the last column are the “delete” tasks. These are the things we know we shouldn’t be spending our time on, but for some reason or another, we just haven’t let them go. That game on your phone that’s sucking up several hours a week? Delete it. Excessive social media scrolling? Rein it in.
These are things that are not urgent or important and it’s time to cut them out of your life. You’re too busy doing important stuff to waste time on these tasks!
As you can see, the Eisenhower Matrix can really change your life if you are able to stop for a moment and assess the tasks you have in front of you, prioritize what’s important and urgent, and then focus your attention on those things first.
Once you know which tasks you’re going to focus on, you need to design your day in a way that allows you to do that effectively. I like to use time blocking for this.
Time blocking is just a fancy way of organizing your day so you can be productive. It’s way too easy to fall into the trap of thinking, “I have eight hours of work time today, of course that’s enough to get everything done. It’ll happen.”
We all know that constant interruptions happen. Someone calls us, the kids need something, a last minute project is dropped in your lap. Pretty soon, that eight hour workday has turned into two… if you’re lucky.
Time blocking is the practice of planning out your day in advance and dedicating certain blocks of time to the various things you need to get accomplished. It’s like a to-do list on steroids.
We’re all such amazing multitaskers, which is great in our everyday lives but not so great when you want to focus on a single task. Did you know that only 2.5% of the population can actually process tasks simultaneously. Of course, we all want to believe we’re part of that 2.5% but chances are, we’re probably not.
When you focus on one task at a time, you instantly become 80% more productive than when you’re splitting your attention across multiple tasks.
Whether you start using the Eisenhower Matrix to prioritize tasks, you start blocking your tasks on your calendar, or you simply start saying “no” to things, I want to see you taking a more active role in managing your time! No one else is going to do it for us, and we need this skill if we want to accomplish big things (and I know you do, otherwise you wouldn’t be here).
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