Let’s face it, there are only 24 hours in a day and we all have the same 24 hours. How we spend those 24 hours will determine how much we have to show for them. Whether you are just starting out on a new venture, or perhaps you are taking an existing project or business to the next level, it takes a lot of time, energy and commitment to make it happen. But our personal relationships take the same components to function happily as well.
Here are some helpful tips to help you focus and plan ahead so that you can be your best self in all areas of your life, without feeling depleted or guilty:
1. Write down your top 3 goals/priorities that you want to focus on this year
Do not list more than 3 – if you have more than 3 major goals then you may be overwhelming yourself and spreading your energy and time too thin.
2. Make 2 lists: Personal and professional goal-related activities
List all the things that you do in each category, so that you can see exactly what tasks you are currently handling in each category. For example, you may be married and also starting a business as a holistic coach. In the personal column, you may list that your spouse expects you to make dinner, and the grocery shopping – as well as have quality time to relax together after dinner.
In the professional column, your list of activities and tasks may include scheduling client appointments, attending networking events, bookkeeping, making sales calls, etc. When you put these lists next to each other, you quickly see that you have way too much on your plate, and that some of these tasks need to be delegated or eliminated.
3. Go through each list and mark each task in order of importance
Use the hospital triage system: indicate which activities are most urgent and important by putting a #1 next to them and a #2 next to the tasks that are vital but not urgent, and a #3 next to the ones that need to be handled, but are easy to reschedule. Place the letter D next to all tasks that can be handed over, and simply cross out the tasks that you need to stop doing because they are no longer in alignment with your goals.
4. Use a calendar or day planner
It can be an electronic calendar, or a paper one. Do not use pen – you will need to erase things and move them around to honor your need for flexibility and the ever-changing nature of life.
5. In your calendar, make actual appointments that include start and end times to accomplish your #1 tasks
For example, if your business relies on you making sales calls, then that would be a #1 task that needs to have a home in your schedule with actual times allotted for it. Once you have scheduled all of your #1 tasks (both personal and professional), then proceed to entering in the #2 and #3 tasks.
6. Make your time with loved ones a #1 priority and schedule it in!
If it’s not written down or entered on your calendar, then it is just a good intention…it’s not real unless it’s on the books! For example, you could plan your schedule so that your work is completed most days by 6pm, and that all the time after that hour is designated time with your loved ones. Guard this time carefully.
7. Be in communication
Let your colleagues, clients, friends and family know what you are trying to accomplish and that you intend to be present to everyone – including yourself. Be honest about your challenges and stay focused on the goals rather than distracted by the obstacles.
There will be times when your schedule will need to change or you will have to cancel something. Don’t make it wrong, just clean it up and explain to all parties. Also, ask the people in your life what they need and expect from you as well. Don’t feel pressured to be a mind-reader or a people-pleaser.
“People with clear, written goals, accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them could ever imagine.” – Brian Tracy
8. Be flexible
Life is constantly moving, changing and growing. Stuff happens. Don’t schedule yourself so tightly that you can’t make adjustments when life throws you a curve ball. Give yourself the gift of structure and discipline so that you may experience the freedom it creates for you. But don’t become a task-master, where your schedule becomes a slave driver. Instead, master your tasks so that you can work smarter, not harder.
9. Be realistic and ask for help when you need it
If your goals are quite lofty, then you may need to let go of a lot of extraneous activity in order to accomplish them. Also, you may simply not have a lot of free time! Continuously check in with yourself to see if you are willing to be, do and have all that will be demanded of you in order to achieve your goals. You don’t have to give up just because it’s hard, but you may need to course-correct from time to time to stay in alignment with your authentic desires.
10. Keep an open mind and your eye on the prize
You really can have it all – but maybe not all at the same time. By choosing what you wish to focus on and giving each task a home in your calendar, you will begin to get more done in less time because you are focusing your energy on very specific types of activity.
Prioritizing goals, organizing your time and writing things down so that you can see it all in front of you is a great way to get clear, efficient and effective. Being in communication with the people in your life is the key to things working more smoothly.
And remember, it’s not about perfection. Focus on your sense of purpose and your progress instead, and you will create more space in your mind for new possibilities.
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