“…I just don’t have the time”
This sentence is like a curse. I know, because I was under its spell.
When I started my first business, I was a mess.
Every evening I’d go to bed at silly o’clock chasing my todo list, and every morning I’d wake up already tired. I was frustrated and scared I’d never find my way out of the pile of documents, emails, and ideas.
It’s a negative loop: you are so close to the issue, you have no way to see the big picture. Even worse, when you are constantly paddling your way to the end of the day, you never take the time to fix the problem.
We wait for things to slow down so that we can finally implement different systems that will finally make things easier, and work smoother. Here’s the issue with that: you are waiting for the result…in order to implement the very change that will bring the result.
That will not work: if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.
That was an important mindset shift for me to go from overwhelmed and stressed, to clear and effective.
When you jump straight into execution, you always work on the next thing: whatever comes your way. An idea, an email, a line on your todo list. You end up working on EVERYTHING, with no idea where it will take you.
It’s like throwing spaghetti at the wall, and see what sticks. Except, it usually hits the fan.
The only way to reclaim your time and get in control of your priorities is…to reclaim your time back. Set aside some specific time for strategic thinking instead of jumping straight into execution.
This can be as simple as taking a few minutes in the morning to look at what you want to accomplish with your day, or setting clear milestones and objectives for your projects.
After all, all you care about are results, not effort.
It’s not about being the busiest, but about getting results. The ones that YOU want. How busy you are in the process really doesn’t matter.
Here are two simple techniques you can implement in your business today to start taking back control of your time and set a clear direction for your day.
This way, you are guaranteed to make progress with your 24 hours.
#1 Adopt a “strategic” time block
A simple way to take back control of your workload (and your schedule) is to create a time block in your calendar to dedicate to strategic thinking only. This is like taking a meeting with yourself (or maybe, your future self), to dedicate to your future direction, or to create new systems to handle your workload better.
Remember, if you wait for the result to happen without changing your actions…it just won’t happen.
Many businesses get stuck because of lack of strategy: the founder and executives get so busy working on the “urgent”, that they forget to set a clear direction for the company and the team. As a consequence, everyone works on the “urgent” (and constantly nags management to make them decide for them — because there is no clarity). This is why, when I coach entrepreneurs and executives on becoming effective with their performance, I make them implement a strategic block almost at the start.
#2 Plan your day in advance
Planning your day the night before (or first thing in the morning) is a game changer. Instead of having emails and random requests rob you of your day, energy, and mood first thing in the morning, you wake up productive.
Having a day plan allows you to know how busy your day is, and be realistic with your expectations, but also to prioritize what will really bring progress over what is just “busy” work that gets you nowhere.
Here’s where my day planning technique comes to the rescue: first step, look at your events for the day — that will tell you how much time and energy you have available. Next, look at your objectives, not tasks — this will allow you to prioritize based on results, not on how easy a task is. Third, look at your admin and tasks, and choose a couple to make sure you don’t let it become urgent.
Your turn now.
I can’t wait for you to take action. If you’re going to implement a strategic block let me know in the comments (you can just say “I’m in from today!” so you’ll make it official).