This article by Nancy Hagan published in Jumpstart Your Success with Brian Tracy.
Design Your Day: Optimize Your Time, Energy and Results!
Do you feel overwhelmed with the demands of the day? Are you at the mercy of whatever comes up, unable to find enough time to focus on the high priorities that would move your business and life forward? How can you create comfortable balance with all you have to do?
Reduce stress, improve productivity and increase peace of mind by Designing Your Day. “But, wait,” you may be thinking. “I don’t want to be boxed-in, rigid, in a straight-jacket!” No one does. The good news is you really can have the best of both worlds – freedom and control.
It’s your own custom plan, including spontaneity and time for you! It will be much better than being scattered and overwhelmed, and easier than you think. You may have some of the components already in place.
Consider these ideas to simplify the process:
Set up a spreadsheet with thirty-minute increments that represent the time available during a week. You can also download our “Reality Check Time Grid”
Block out time for your essentials and customize with choices that are vital to your progress, such as:
Look at the most important things to be done each week. The 80-20 Rule says 80 percent of your results typically come from 20 percent of your activities. Take care to identify the critical 20 percent that will create the maximum impact. Ask yourself:
What will move my business forward? What will move my life forward?
Then make prime time slots for those!
Group similar tasks and create “Designated Days”. For example, project work, writing, phone calls, appointments, errands, etc. can each be grouped to get them done more efficiently while in that “mode.” “Designated Days” let you focus on what’s really important for larger blocks of time.
Decide the best place and time for each activity. Factors to consider:
Environment: If a quiet place that provides uninterrupted time is hard to come by, you may want to try one or more of these strategies:
• Put a sign on your door, indicating when you will be free. Ex: “Available at 3 p.m.”
• Use an empty conference room.
• Go to the library or coffee shop.
• Wear a special hat to let your team know you are focused on a high priority.
• Develop a workplace culture of honoring an hour or two of uninterrupted time. Watch everyone’s productivity and morale improve!
• Do high priority and difficult tasks when at your best.
• Secondary and easy things, like phone calls and e-mail, later in the day when your energy is waning. Open mail near the end of the workday, but do deal with it! Today’s unprocessed mail is tomorrow’s pile!
Create “Windows of Opportunity” to help create balance. These modules should be blocks of time designated for focused attention. Start with 30, 60 or 90 minutes intervals. They make it easier to adjust how much time to spend on any particular task, help you remain realistic, and make it easier to say No! You can still be flexible. You are ultimately in charge of your life! Modules are moveable. Stay with your structure if possible, but be flexible to accomplish what you want.
Schedule blocks of time for your most important responsibilities– Focus Time, which means no e-mail, phone calls or interruptions. Just start, even if you don’t feel ready. You’ll find it gets easier each time, and gives you a real productivity boost! We don’t find time. We must make time, or it won’t happen.
Schedule only 50 percent of your day to allow for the unexpected, plus things often take longer than we think.
Designate a block of time to take care of “naggers”– those things that are nagging at you every time you see them (“Take care of me! You know you should!” etc.). Often they are little things, such as the pile of mail, or the phone call to correct a problem. Once you give them attention, they usually take less time than expected, yield wonderful relief and a sense of accomplishment, and won’t nag you any more! Bigger things (such as a project) can be whittled away day by day. Spend 30 minutes, or an hour, for example, and then don’t worry about it until the next time for it comes around. To prevent naggers from accumulating, use the two-minute rule. If it takes two minutes or less – just do it!
Eliminate everything that isn’t vital to the vision of your life, and especially anything that conflicts with it. Is one more committee or surfing the ‘net more important than the time you need to live the life you want? Every day, include things you love to do; and every week, include things you want to do but never get around to! Don’t wait for “some day.” Life happens now!
Adjusting Your Day
Once you have your patterns established, you will want to adjust for comfort and/or changing circumstances. You may want to keep a simple “Cue Card” of your basic plan for quick reference. List the days of the week and the main tasks for each day on a 3 x 5 card and keep it handy.
So what if things don’t go according to plan? That’s life, and that’s the beauty of “Designated Days”. We will never get everything done (sorry to burst that bubble). Wait until the “Designated Day” comes around next week, and do it then, unless it’s truly urgent. But Designing Your Days makes those emergencies less frequent. Your mind can let go in the meantime, because you know the time is coming when it will get done. Or maybe you will realize it isn’t how you want to spend your precious time.
You won’t always adhere to your plan. Life happens. But you now have a framework to remind you where you want to be. Like the painted lanes on the highway, this framework will help keep you on track. Of course, you may decide to take the next exit for some good reason, or just because you need a break. But it will be a more conscious choice. You will want to continually evaluate and make adjustments. Designing Your Day will make your choices more apparent.
You may want to have little rituals to complete your day at the office: clearing your desk, checking tomorrow’s schedule, removing cups, etc. Think of what you would like to accomplish, how you would like to feel, what would help you get there, and build them into your day.
Designing Your Day allows you to capitalize on you at your best, taking care of your needs and wants, and elevating your quality of life! Be kind to yourself. We are not machines! Abilities improve with experience.
Someone once said, “Time isn’t money. Time is life!” Are you getting the most from yours by Designing Your Day?
Do you crave peace of mind and productivity?
How can you navigate through the distractions that are zapping your greatness?
Do you wish you were getting more done, having more clients, making more money, but things keep getting in your way?
Learn more about the Productivity Coaching services offered by Effective Day.