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6 Actionable Ways To Get More Done In Less Time
I came across this wonderful analogy on time while researching for one of my events:
“Think about the airline industry. Their target is to have a full cabin in every flight. They don’t really like empty seats. So, the prices are high. And dynamic. As the day of the flight nears, the prices keep on increasing. Good luck to anyone with a tight budget – if they want a seat on a flight at the last moment! It becomes a mad house then, the same seat which would have initially cost you probably 30-40% less.
But once the plane takes off, an empty seat has no value. That’s a loss for the airline. There is no way they can get any money for it. However expensive the seat had been, once it’s gone, it becomes valueless.
The same can be said about ‘time’. A very expensive commodity indeed. While the clock ticks away, it keeps becoming more and more precious. You would kill to save those precious moments right before something has to be done. Do anything to have little more time at your disposal! Unfortunately, you cannot stop the clock.
And once it is gone, it ceases to be expensive. It ceases to be anything!”
There is a very simple thing I like to say,
Time pass = Time Fail
Let me give you some stats. The average person gets 1 interruption every 8 minutes, or approximately 7 an hour, or 50-60 per day. The average interruption takes 5 minutes, totaling about 4 hours or 50% of the average workday. 80% of those interruptions are typically rated as “little value” or “no value” creating approximately 3 hours of wasted time per day.
By taking 1 hour per day for independent study, 7 hours per week, 365 hours in a year, one can learn at the rate of a full-time student. In 3-5 years, the average person can become an expert in the topic of their choice, by spending only one hour per day.
If only we had that one hour we could take out from our crucial time (kept aside to be wasted)
I know it is difficult. The habit of wasting time if hard to beat, especially the blissful joy of doing nothing. And then running around in mindless panic at the 11th hour – that’s not much fun though. Here are a few things you could do that have proved to work well for me, if you are looking to managing your time better:
1. Put a price on your time
Yes, make a guesstimate of the cost of your time. You may not make it comparable to some industry stalwart but consider yourself as someone who is fairly successful when you do so.
Depending on how much you earn (or spend, if you are a student) each year, you can count the number of productive days in a year and number of working hours in a day. Get you own hourly rate;)… If you do not know the value of your time, who will? I do this exercise every time I revise my compensation rates for clients.
Once you have that estimate, next time you have the urge to splurge your time on something, you can compare whether it is worth your time or not. The concept of value in marketing is defined as benefits/cost. (Some even consider it as benefits minus cost). Find out your own version of benefits upon cost for your time i.e. time value.
Now, I am not saying that you do everything according to this method. But a lot of your trivial activities could go through this simple test before you decide to undertake them. This will simply give you an idea of how much valuable time you generally waste doing stuff that you need not do really.
2. SWOT Analysis
You must have heard of SWOT right? It’s an analysis of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Generally it is done on an organization level vis a vis competitors to understand the road that has been traveled so far and what lies ahead.
But whoever said you couldn’t do it for your own self?
SWOT can be helpful in prioritizing your time and to-dos. Between all the elements of your SWOT, I would suggest that you focus on your strengths. Give more time to things you are good at and play to your strengths. This will ensure you enjoy your productive hours more. But it will also help you figure out which of your weaknesses can you spend how much time on, so that you could turn them into your opportunities and subsequently, into your strengths. It is very much doable, should you put your heart on to the pursuit of ‘better-ness’.
If you cannot picture a long term situation, don’t panic. Take one day at a time. I would say, devote some time each day to your SWOT elements. Some will of high priority and some will be of low. But ensure that you take some time out. As mentioned in the very beginning of the post, merely taking out 1hour everyday can get you to gain expertise in a particular field (condition applied – dedicated one hour). Just find out time first for your priorities.
You will be amazed at how much buffer time will remain each day for you to decide how much of it to spend or trivials and non-essentials. SWOT has always come to my rescue. It will do the same for you – I guarantee!
3. Wake up early
This does not seem like a time management tip but trust me it is. When I started waking up early and tried to get done with 50% of my To-dos even before the rest of the world woke up, it gave me a very beautiful delusion of having more than 24hrs in my day. I had more time for myself, my family, my work – everything. This habit just does wonders.
Most important things get done early on, leaving time for leisure and fun and most importantly – getting more important things done than you had planned! That’s a welcome delusion I would say. Here are a few early morning activities that can prime your day.
4. Creating To-Do lists
Creating to-do lists is a classic time management tool. I keep a white board right above my workstation where all the to-dos go. It is the simplest way to tackle your list of never ending works. Keep striking off what got done and keep writing what needs to be done further.
Place it strategically at a position where your eyes keep going from time to time. If you are a more organized person, you can even color code your white board of to-dos. The essence is to make you feel ashamed if the list of struck out items is smaller.
And don’t be ashamed of jotting down to-dos. Once you have an exhaustive list, you can do your SWOT and prioritizing too! Find out what’s more important and what needs to be done right away.
5. Right here Right now
If it takes 2 minutes to do a thing, do it now. Don’t procrastinate even for very small things. It is often the 2 minute tasks, that when piled up – look like an Everest that you have to conquer. It is this pile of 2minute noodles that gets perceived as crisis often. And believe me, a major part of crisis management is dealing with these simple things efficiently. It is not that big a deal. We just turn it into one.
It would also be advisable that you do the things you fear most first. Or abhor. That inertia of having put good effort gets carried forward to the rest of the day (or sitting). You may not succeed initially. But slowly, you will get into the habit of facing your fears and getting things done in time – that’s two things nailed!
6. Kill your Distractors
Have you heard of Pareto’s principle? The 80-20 rule by Pareto, when applied to time management, says – 80% of your half-hearted time generates only 20% of the results.
And it is no rocket science that your 80% unfocused time is a result of too much distraction. Kill those distractors. Free, high speed internet, YouTube streaming without buffer, endless social media networks and their apps, so many relationship issues to worry about, numerous trivial things to think about, useless people issues to get into – a lot of work, a modern living is!
It is possible to keep these distractions at bay. A little will power is all you need. And what starts as will power, soon becomes a habit. Progressively remove your distractions if you want to reach somewhere in life. Because what doesn’t take you towards your goals, takes you away from them!
There are many more ways to manage your time better. But the first step to all of them is – your sheer, infallible determination to make use of these non-renewable, very important resource – in a better, more judicious way.
The difference between a Steve Jobs and a normal job is – how one utilizes their 24hrs!
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