Time is, without doubt, our most precious resource yet we often take it for granted. There are only 24 hours in each day, many of which are taken up with sleeping, yet we seem to disconnect from the uncomfortable reality by disassociating with the inherently limited supply days we each have left.
In some ways, we might squeeze more from our time if we could see how many hours we had left though for most people it would just stress them out. There’s a gift in such uncertainty, yet it’s imperative you squeeze the most out of each day, in the present moment, rather than procrastinate and put “life” off.
In this sense, productivity isn’t just about getting work done for your business – it’s about being productive in order to squeeze more from life.
Many people have a limited view of the purpose of productivity; thinking it’s all about efficiency at work, and getting things done in order to make money, and so on – yet, what productivity really boils down to is squeezing the most from life.
If an article takes two hours to write, then these two hours cannot be spent doing anything other than writing – whereas, if you can be more efficient and write the same article in just one hour then you have a further hour to “live” and enjoy life. Many people would argue that it would be a better use of time to write two articles in two hours and get double the reward – yet, it’s important to remember we work to live rather than live to work.
In this sense, productivity is critical to living a life of fulfilment, where you have enough free time to enjoy your life and pursue meaningful goals. When you think about your goals, even if it’s a practical goal related to your business – it’s all based on an emotion you want to experience.
For instance, let’s say you have a goal to win an award for your blog. Yes, there are logical business benefits associated with this such as an increase in traffic, credibility, and so on – yet at the core of this goal is an emotion; perhaps the feeling of recognition and significance.
If we scratch deeper beneath the surface, then you’re usually about to connect the dots backward and see where this emotional need comes from (e.g. those seeking recognition often sought this as a child from their parent’s but didn’t get the praise they deserved so still crave it as an adult).
The point is, we are emotionally driven creatures, rather than machines, and we need to view productivity slightly more holistically than streamlining processes and being more efficient. With this in mind, here are five ways to be more productive, so that your time is freed up to squeeze the most from life and pursue your dreams.
- OUTSOURCE TIME CONSUMING TASK
There are many domestic tasks that are very time consuming, yet necessary, and often we find ourselves investing a lot of our precious time doing things such as cleaning the house or going to the supermarket.
In the film “About a Boy” Hugh Grant plays a character that discusses how he breaks down his time into units, for instance, going for a haircut, might be one unit of time, whereas doing a class in gym might be two units. It can be a good idea to do an inventory, just for one week, to track where each of your half hour units of time go.
In doing this, you’ll find you spend a surprising amount of time driving, in the bathroom, watching TV, cleaning, and shopping. Whilst you can’t outsource the time spent in the bathroom, you can cut down on the time spent watching TV and can certainly outsource tasks such as shopping and cleaning.
If you consider that your time is worth X amount per hour, the question you need to ask is that is X is, say £25 per hour, then would it not make sense to hire a cleaner for a couple of hours a week at £10 per hour – thus freeing your time to be more productive with your business?
A lot of people are reluctant to pay for things they can do themselves, yet, when you break this down into simple economics, it actually makes a lot more sense to pay people to do certain tasks so that your time is freed up to earn more revenue.
Similarly, there are dog walkers and even people who will go to the supermarket and get your groceries… yet, in reality, online shopping seems to fulfil that purpose with greater efficiency than hiring someone.
- ORGANISE YOUR TIME
We often live in reaction rather than response. This means we have a feeling of running around, chasing our tail, sometimes like a headless chicken – putting fires out… rather than consciously creating our day and not letting ourselves get distracted.
Starting the day with a sense of purpose; working out what your highest goal and most significant task to achieve is can be a great way to organize your time, as this way, you can work backwards.
For instance, if you know that a particular aspect of content needs to be taken care of as your most important task, then you can focus on this – batting away distractions, such as emails and social media notifications. It’s like a ship with a destination in mind; you are moving toward the direction of your goal – rather than being steered off course by the tide.
Therefore, when it comes to organising your time, it’s about first working out what are your most important tasks for the day, then, what are the necessary tasks, that might not move you particularly close to your goal but are necessary. This way, it’s like defining the boulders of focus, the stones that are necessary, and seeing everything else as pebbles that must fit around the boulders and stones.
- RELY ON A TEAM
If you have a business, then it’s imperative you start relying on a team of competent people to help you achieve your goals. Today, this doesn’t need to be a physical team of people in a physical location – it can be virtual assistants that work remotely from all over the world, and similarly, if you do have a physical team in a particular location, you can use advanced time and attendance tools to track time and attendance remotely, meaning you don’t have to physically be there like a school teacher with a register.
- THE PARETO PRINCIPLE
The Pareto Principle suggests 20% of our activities will account for 80% of our desired outcome. This means that 20% of the tasks on your to-do list are worth a huge amount of your attention, as these produce the most significant results.
The first step, is to work out what these priority tasks are, and then focus on the 20% of tasks that generate 80% of the results – as this will move you much closer to your goals at a much greater speed.
- USE LISTS
The world’s most successful people tend to use lists for everything. There are a wide variety of apps available to help with this, such as Wunderlist, that can help you keep track of your most important tasks. There’s something psychologically rewarding about ticking items off of your to-do list as this builds momentum, in that if you’ve ticked 3 out of 5 of your items off that list for the day, then you feel very motivated to get the other two finished.