This weekend, I was meeting some ex-colleagues for a delicious and relaxing high tea. It was so lovely to see them again and, as usual, one of the first question we asked each other was how the other one was. “Busy!” This seems to be the answer these days. When was the last time you heard anyone answer with “Good, keeping well, thank you”? Who’s not a busy bee?
As our afternoon carried on and we left the superficial “How are you” question, it became apparent that “busy” had all kinds of meaning. One was introducing an automisation project at work, for others, it was relocating the offices, helping their children with their homework or researching the next holiday destination for the upcoming Eid weekend. Everyone had so many things to juggle every day.
The conversations left me thinking how we use the same 24 hours in a day. Like you, I know some folks who seem to be constantly chasing the activities on their to-do list, looking frazzled about what to do and completely stressed when not achieving as much as they’d like to. Then, there are others who seem to just breeze through their day, with hardly any signs of stress or panic.
What can you do to use your 24 hours in a day more wisely? Here are some tips from entrepreneurs for you:
- Define your top 3 goals for the day. Write them down and display them visibly. It’s been shown this simple process will help you clarify what your priority (not priorities) really is.
- Jason Parks goes further by creating a weekly strategy document where he outlines what he wants to accomplish for the upcoming work week.
- Learn to read faster. Start by reading 15 minutes of non-fiction every day. Unless you want to spend an hour reading about discrete mathematics or pharmacognosvy, you’ll automatically become faster by scanning your reading. Scroll with your finger along the sentence, which will remove the distraction of the following words.
- If you’re working on repetitive tasks, use a checklist. They provide the positive feeling of ticking something off, save your brain power and make delegation easier.
- On the same notion, automate what you can, for example, bill payment. You don’t want to be reminded of an unpaid bill and stress about the late fees.
- A former colleague introduced me to the 15-minute-theory. How often have you told yourself that you’ll only visit Facebook or Pinterest for just a minute or 2 max? How often did these moments turn into 15 or 30 minutes? If you’re like me, it happens. Use a timer when checking your social media.
- While you’re at it, track your time for one week. Keep a list and record how much time you’re spending on each activity. I bet you’ll be surprised to find out what you’re spending your time on. This exercise will help you to identify how long an activity actually takes. It’ll be valuable when telling your boss or customer how much time you’ll actually need or when you’re setting up a new project plan.
- These days, meetings can eat up your time just like that. Set your calendar to only invite for 30 minutes as a standard invite. It’s proven that the attention span of participants decreases substantially after 30 minutes. Ideally, meetings should be kept to 18 minutes. I’ve been in meetings where a timer has been set to 5 minutes before the official end time, indicating to decide the next steps and wrap up. Prior to the meeting, send out an agenda and identify your objectives for the meeting to get the most out of it.
- A healthy and balanced lifestyle will give you more energy. Don’t skip your exercises and block time in your calendar for your work outs, like Selena Narayanasamy does.
- Do you know that the colour of your walls can influence your mood, thoughts and outcomes? If you are working from home, you may want paint your office walls. If you need to be detail-oriented, chose red. Blue is calming and promotes creativity. Similarly, green inspires innovation while yellow can become overstimulating.
- Have you tried a “coffee nap”? British researches Horne and Reyner discovered that drinking a caffeinated beverage like coffee before a quick nap of 15-25 minutes is like a “double shot of energy”. Drinks like coffee require some time before their alerting effect kicks in, so perfect for your next nap.
- Keep your work space, office and home clutter-free. While a messy desk may foster creative thinking, minutes or hours spent searching just don’t add to your productivity. You’ll need to be sharp and on your feet, as Alex Ivanovs points out. Remember, there’s a difference between a clean desk and an organised desk.
What strategies do you apply to get the most out of your day? Share them with us by leaving a comments.
Until next time,