Raise your hand if your to-do list, goal list, project list—omg, all your lists—are hella long! Me, me! I trust I’m in good company on this one since so many goal-getters are ambitious people who love getting shit done.
Somehow finding—er, making—the time to do it all is often a major source of frustration. It never ends! Okay, I’ll admit that sometimes this avalanche of actions that our goals require can be as exhilarating as it is overwhelming (especially if you love what you’re doing).
Still, it’d be nice to make good on our lists and stay sane in the process, am I right?
We need to not only manage our time well, but MAXIMIZE it. Hellz yeah, here we go:
9 Ways to Maximize Your Time
- Know when you’re most productive. Are you a lark or an owl? If you’re a morning person (lark) like me you know that you’re probably not going to be doing your best work in the afternoon or evening–unless you get a nap and a lot of caffeine. Don’t even bother saying or asking much of a night owl in the morning. Your owl friend probably won’t even be fully awake yet. In general, there is a circadian rhythm to which we all sway. Larks start their cycles a little earlier than average and owls a little later. We’re all likely to experience peaks of energy in which we’re super alert and should be tackling our most important and difficult tasks and troughs in which we start nodding off at our desks. This article goes into more detail about circadian rhythms and suggests that we should all be taking 3 p.m. naps.
- Prioritize, yo. Use that Eisenhower matrix to determine your most important tasks and projects. Remember that other people’s priorities and problems are not necessarily yours. If you’re spending huge swaths of your time on things that are not important to you, what gives?
- Focus more on your strengths than your weaknesses. These special talents and abilities of yours come easily to you. Check you out! You’ll probably zip right through the task with more efficiency and you’ll get more satisfaction out of it, too. Win, win. Shoring up your weaknesses, on the other hand, uses a lot more mental energy and can feel pretty sucky. None of this is to say, however, that you can’t and shouldn’t work to improve at certain things. But we’re talking about maximizing your time here. Learning new skills and improving at ones we’re not naturally inclined toward can be rough and tumble process that can take foreverrrrr.
- Ditch perfectionism. It takes time to do things perfectly. What is perfectly anyway? There is a time and a place to bring your A game. Bring it to your biggest priorities and the work that is most impactful and important to your goals. Whoa, it sounds crazy and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but if you want to maximize your time, you should maybe even kinda not give every task your best kick-ass effort. Damn, that sentence was tough to type, but here is someone backing me up: How to Allocate your Time, and Your Effort.
- No multitasking. Yes, multitasking should be dead by now, but in the event that it’s still lurking around somewhere, every productivity and time management aficionado on the planet has a bounty on its head. Multitasking isn’t as productive as we think it is. You’re more likely to make mistakes and succumb to distractions. Plus, the task will take you longer when your attention and brain is split on one or more other things.
- Take breaks. Because your brain isn’t firing at maximum capacity if you’re tired. Plus, naps. Need I say more?
- Avoid those pesky distractions. You need to block all that shit out so you can concentrate and focus. Don’t piss away your time on things that don’t matter. These things will rip you right out of the zone if given half a chance.
- Give yourself less time to do things. Work will expand to the time it takes to do it, aka Parkinson’s Law. For example, if you are told to write a story and turn it in by next Friday, you’ll probably get crackalackin’ at it on Thursday night. Or, if you’re like me, you’ll work on it a little bit each night and it’ll seem to take forever. You might even feel a bit anxious and wish you had extra time to complete the story. However, I could’ve told you to write a story and turn it in an hour and you totally could do this. You’d buckle down, fire up some coffee (I prefer Mt. Zevia), hole up somewhere and get it done. When you allow yourself more time, you allow yourself more distractions, excuses, and procrastination. You’ll get things done when you feel the pressure.
- Get someone else to do it for you. Well, pay (or bribe them with cookies) so it’s a winning situation for all involved. No need to feel guilty. You’re maximizing shit all over the place! You don’t have time to iron all those shirts or scan those old family photos or type up those podcast transcripts. There’s someone online right now trying to make a business out of doing the things you don’t have time to do. If your budget is down with it, why not support these small businesses?
Some of these tips will undoubtedly be easier to pull off than others. Pick one that you can work on for a while and see how it goes. Experiment.
I really want to apply #8 to a little project I’m working on. I know my perfectionist ways will try to convince me otherwise, though. Perhaps I’ll go to my fave coffee house to work. I’ll leave my laptop charger at home and drink lots of foamy caffeinated beverages and I won’t get up to pee until I finish the project. Completion or bust! Wroohoohaha! Or maybe not…
Is there a particular goal in your life that could benefit from some of these practices? Get maximizin’ and let me know how it goes for you.