Time is precious, and once it is gone, we don’t get it back. It is the only thing that money cannot buy. The ability to effectively manage your time and energy is fundamental to success in anything you do.
I see people all the time who are stressed and hassled and not actually achieving as much as they could. They are time-poor because they are not making time work for them. Successful people get more of the right stuff done because they have developed behaviours, systems and habits that make them extremely productive and effective.
One of the first things I tell my clients is that there is no such thing as multitasking, and it certainly isn’t going to save you time in the long run. We attempt to multitask because we feel like we are managing to do lots of things at once, when actually we are doing nothing well. Our brain is simply not build to cope with several things at once. It is much better to focus on one thing at a time. Imagine your attention is like a flashlight. It can only shine a clear light on one thing at a time. Use your time to accomplish one task, finish it and then move on to the next. Don’t touch and go – and don’t shuffle papers around. It is really important to protect your attention. Don’t always be at the whim of your handset. Turn off your notifications and go dark on the wifi when you don’t need it. Establish periods when you check your email and social media and stick to them.
I take at least 15 minutes of “me time” away from interruptions every day when I can do my creative and strategic thinking. Don’t worry. The world really will revolve if your phone is switched off. If you have to have a gatekeeper, arrange for someone to monitor incoming calls when you are offline, just to make sure you are not missing something critical. Then, it’s also very important to eliminate stuff that is taking up your precious time without giving you much value back. If you are spending hours doing cleaning and shopping when you could be building your career goals or spending precious time with your kids. Invest in a cleaner and consider switching to online shopping. Are you spending hours browsing the internet or watching box sets? Could you be spending that time better elsewhere?
And finally, be aware of how you feel throughout the day. Mapping your energy levels is key to good attention management. Once you understand the highs and lows of your energy cycle, you can plan your activities much more effectively. Some people are at their best when they just wake up. I tend to start work at 6am and stop for breakfast at nine before resuming work until lunchtime. After lunch, I know I am much less energised so I then schedule less brain-heavy activities like paperwork. Work out with friends when you benefit most from exercise. Don’t let the gym dictate when you do activities and be in control of your schedule. That is the secret to success.