Time is becoming the most valuable currency we have. We are happily giving up our hard earned dollars to have more of it in the search for convenience and minutes back into our day. You can never pursue your dream without having time to spend on it.
Just like with money, you need to keep track of where it goes and let the spillage stop. There are time thief’s everywhere, and they will rob you blind if they know that you’re not on the look out.
On the other hand, don’t be stingy with your time either. Helping someone for fifteen minutes or sending a note of inspiration to someone on Facebook can be hugely rewarding, and a lucrative investment.
I have built many relationships over the years by just spending a little time each day sending a few nice words to someone that inspires me.
Definition of a Time Thief: Someone who isn’t focused on their goals or vision and is looking for time to waste by engaging in tasks or conversations that take their mind of their own world.
Here are eleven ways to get more time back in your day for the things you love:
1. Run from unnecessary meetings like the plague
In the corporate world especially, people are inclined to book meetings to talk about meetings. Many of them are unproductive, and a lot of people in the room are not required to resolve the issue. Meetings can often become venting sessions for issues between people rather than a business issue itself.
At all costs, if a meeting has no relevance or value to you, you should decline it. This will upset some people, but soon they will get used to how much you value your time and in turn, they will value it too. If it’s a meeting that you have to attend, try sending someone in your place.
Bottom line, unless a meeting has a clear benefit or somehow helps your life mission, decline it. If you’re in a moment of indecision, ask yourself the famous question, “did the invite make me go F$#@ yeah!” If not, then the safest option is to decline it.
2. Stop Interruptions
We’ve all had that moment where we’re sitting at our desk in a sate of flow and then some annoying interruption comes from nowhere and we forget what we were doing. For many of us, this is a daily frustration.
If you’re working in a space that is open plan then there are a few things that will help you:
– Minimise eye contact with time thief’s that approach your direction
– Let casual visitors know that you are only available through your calendar
– Make a rule that it is not okay to interrupt you
– Wear your headphones with no sound playing, so people think you are busy
– Have a look of focus and determination on your face that no brave soul would dare interrupt
3. Limit essential meetings to twenty minutes
There are some meetings that are fundamental to running your life or business that you may not want to attend but have to. I recommend allowing a maximum of twenty minutes for these meetings.
What this does is give people a sense of urgency and it allows you to skip the intro and outro because of the limited time. Make sure you signal that at the end of the meeting, your chair is going to blow up and wipe out an entire block if the meetings goes over twenty minutes (only joking).
Instead, tell the person you’re meeting with that you have back to backs as you get towards the end of the twenty minutes. This is not a word of a lie because you do; you have time block meetings in your calendar with yourself to make your vision come true.
4. Fight the disease (your phone)
Your mobile phone is the number one device in your life that sucks your time away. The majority of what happens on the device is not urgent and can wait till later. The worst disease that comes with a phone is the compulsion to answer it and lose your precious time.
When the call is private, there is even more nervousness about not answering the call. What if it’s the President Of The United States Of America?
The question you need to ask yourself is “are my goals and my dream more important than this call?” If the answer is no, then we need to have a serious pep talk. No phone call is urgent, and there isn’t a decent person in the world that will care if you call them back on the same day.
To gain more time back in my day, I have found it’s easier to call my work colleagues on their phone and talk to them a few meters away out of sight than it is to have a face to face conversation where they are constantly looking at their phone.
From next week, I am going to try and have an empty ice cream tub that all phones must be placed into when there is an important planning session. This could get me in trouble, but anything is worth a try, right?
5. Conquer procrastination
Telling yourself you will do something later is a classic sign of procrastination. Delaying tasks in your life only makes them harder to complete. Spending time watching TV and being comfortable will not help you achieve your goals.
You have to not let important tasks be delayed. I’m very guilty when it comes to this truth around time. I’ve adopted a new habit that has helped me achieve more goals: do the most crucial tasks first thing in the morning. The harder the task is, the more you should do it in the first hour you wake up.
Assuming your diet is on point, right after you wake up is when we have the most energy and the best chance of focusing on a task. I’ve recently implemented a new time of waking up at 4 am which has increased my results significantly.
The less time you spend delaying tasks, and the more time you spend getting them done, the more time in your day you will have to relax – you’ll also feel much better about your day.
6. Don’t be a loser and multi-task
To complete a task in a short amount of time you need 100% focus. The act of multitasking has been proven to fail. Chances are, the secondary task you are bundling with your primary task is not urgent, not important, and could wait until later.
By devoting time to each task separately, you will get things done quicker and the outcome of each task will be far greater.
“Trying to juggle multiple tasks at the same time is like trying to bungee jump off a cliff while attempting to give a speech to a group of people” – Tim Denning
7. Shut your door
If you find that being in an open plan environment is still too difficult with the above interruption policy, then try and go to a quiet space where you can shut the door. Try placing a sign on the door that says “RECORDING IN PROGRESS”
When people think that some type of recording is going on, they will keep a very safe distance away from you and the room. I have used this trick many times, and it’s amazing how people’s actions and behaviour change out of the fear that they could walk onto a Hollywood movie set.
An open door policy when you are trying to focus will set you up for failure and rob you of your time.
8. Time block
It’s easy to have your time thrown around like balloons at the Oscars. The best tip I can give you is to know what you want to achieve in a day; then time block out various tasks. By time blocking, what I mean is to go to your calendar on your phone or computer, and mark out blocks of time as if these blocks were meetings with real human beings.
You’ll find you become more productive, and your tasks will have clear deadlines. At the end of a time block, don’t forget to put in some “you time” so you can reward yourself. As your time begins to free up, try adding five minutes of meditation before a time block, to regain your focus.
9. Delete social media apps from certain devices
Taking the time out of your day to read a book or type an article just like this is important. One hack that I use is that my iPad, (where I read all of my Kindle books on) has no apps other than the Kindle app. This means that I can’t get lost in notifications and distractions.
On the computer that I write with there is limited access to distractions and my phone is switched to aeroplane mode while writing. For those of you who can’t avoid the temptation, there is a great tool called “Chrome Nanny” that can help you manage your digital addictions.
10. Take conversations away from messenger apps
Another thing to avoid is messenger apps. They often create endless conversations that never have a conclusion. If you find a conversation is starting to take place on Facebook Messenger, WeChat or What’sApp, then take it offline and give the person a call. This will give you loads of time back.
11. Value other people’s time
As an entrepreneur or go-getter, it’s not all about you. Your success depends on other people too, not just you. One of the best ways to get your time back is by respecting other people’s. The more you respect someone else’s time, the more they will give you the same gift in return. What you put out comes back tenfold.