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Why You’re Out of Time and 6 Strategies to Get It Back


Staff member
Jan 20, 2024
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You want to be more productive, but you say your job is different, right?

You want to be more proactive, but you say you’re busier than everyone else.

You want to make more progress, but your workday is like none other and you’re not sure how certain methods, systems, apps or approaches are going to work for you, yes?

After 20 years of working with clients, I’ve heard a LOT of these beliefs and what I confirm time and time again is that when you want to be more productive, make incredible progress, and achieve a greater level of success, your beliefs are holding you back if you think your workday is exceptionally unique.

It’s true, we’re all different. We all have different jobs, businesses, missions, and purposes. And we all have something special to bring to the world.

What makes YOU unique is your special blend of expertise, experience, education, and talent.

What is NOT unique is how you need to manage your work in order to get it done efficiently, effectively, and productively.

The time you spend working with your expertise makes up one part of your workday—the one that should take up the MAJORITY of your time.

But there’s a second part to the workday for everyone. It’s called workload management.

The amount of time you have in your day for using your expertise will be GREATLY affected by how much time you’re spending on managing your work: tasks, time, email and information.

What to pay attention to is HOW you’re working. And if how you’re working ISN’T working, you’re losing a LOT of time each day that could be spent more productively.

Your beliefs and long-standing habits are holding you back.

Here are a few statements I’ve heard over the years. Do any of these sounds like something you would say?

“I can’t use a digital task list because I’m visual.”
“I’ll never have enough time, because this industry is different.”
“I’m busier than most professionals.”
“I don’t mind the piles. I know where everything is.”
“I leave all of my emails in my Inbox. I can search for what I need.”
“I have to be able to cross off my to-dos on paper. Then I feel like I’ve accomplished something.”

First of all, regarding that first statement, 65% of the population is visual. And a majority of the 65% use digital task lists. And, if you really think about it, crossing things off from paper to get that feeling of accomplishment is no different than hitting the delete key, but you’re letting your attachment to paper get in the way.

Further, no matter what business you’re in or job you have, you’re going to be busy. I’ve never met a professional who WASN’T busy every day.

But I’ve also never met a professional who had such a unique situation that they had no control over how to change or improve it.

You always have a CHOICE.

If you’re tired of workdays that spin out of control and you want better results for your efforts, it’s time to revisit your workday systems and processes to find what can be fixed.

It’s time to raise your standards, raise your sense of urgency, and raise your expectations… of yourself and how you’re working… so you can get the time you need to get the progress you want.

If you want to reach a greater level of success than where you are now, you must make the MOST of your time each day. You’ve got 24 hours… now MAXIMIZE it.

Don’t know how?

Here are 6 strategies to help you gain time back in your workday.

1. Use your time based on internal decisions, not external forces.
If you never have enough time, it’s a good bet that you’re not aware of where your time is going now. You probably gave it all away or you let others steal it.

Review your workday calendar for the next few weeks. Where is your time committed? Is time being used in all best ways? If not, it’s time to choose wisely and say “yes” to only those endeavors that matter to the success of your goals.

Are you in the right meetings and on the right calls? Do you REALLY need to be present? Or can you shed a few commitments and gain some white space?

Remember: DON’T give away all of the remaining white space left on your calendar. You NEED that time to accomplish tasks and process email every day.

2. Reduce the clutter around you.
Clutter is VERY distracting. You may see something out of the corner of your eye and then suddenly, you’re off in a new direction.

Question everything. Make decisions about what you have, why you have it, and how useful it’s to you. Decide what to keep and what to let go of. Get the reference information you want to keep in the systems you already have that are meant for managing those types of information and get tasks on a digital task list. Otherwise, toss, shred, recycle, or archive.

3. For periods of time, shut your door and don’t accept intrusions.
If you suffer from too many interruptions, distractions, and a high level of reactivity in your workday, your focus is constantly being broken. When external forces dictate how you use your time, it makes it ridiculously hard for you to stay on track. As a result, you’re leaving productivity and progress on the table.

When you’re trying to work with focus, finish what you start, and get something accomplished, don’t answer your office phone/cell phone, turn off IM, and don’t accept visitors if you’re in the office, as examples.

Be sure to set expectations with co-workers about what a closed door means (if in the office) or when you’re virtually unavailable so they know when they can reach you again.

4. Gain 100% task clarity and gain time back.
A comprehensive task management system will allow you to best manage, plan, and prioritize tasks. It will also support you in accomplishing important tasks within the time you have each day.

With a “too much to do and not enough time” scenario, you need to reduce what you’re trying to accomplish to just one daily priority and a few important tasks, and then increase (read: PROTECT) the time dedicated to accomplishing those tasks.

Plus, with a thorough grasp on ALL of your tasks and responsibilities, you can clearly connect tasks to big goals and objectives. If there’s no connection, consider cutting away tasks that aren’t helping you make significant progress toward your goals.

5. Learn how to manage email so you can get OUT of email jail.
The email Inbox is not a file cabinet nor a to-do list, but in an effort to keep up, you might mark emails to know which ones to come back to later. Sadly, no matter which method you use, they’re all very inefficient, ineffective and costly ways to manage email, because you’re losing LOADS of time and productivity from re-reading emails you’ve already seen, but couldn’t do anything with.

To gain more time back from the black hole of email, take two steps on each and every email: (1) Make decisions and (2) Move emails OUT of the Inbox. Get each and every email into the right systems for managing reference information or tasks—or they get deleted/archived.

When emails stall in your Inbox, your productivity and progress are stalling, too.

6. Turn OFF all notifications.
You do not need to be interrupted with push notifications all day long. Take charge. YOU decide when you want to look at email, social media, instant messaging, texts, project management systems, teams applications, and more.

To change your speed of productivity and pace of achievement, don’t be bound by excuses, long-standing habits, or a rut of routines that may not be serving you.

Avoid being limited by conventional norms, business cultures, your environment, or the lure of “best practices.”

Be a different kind of success story. Be the professional who is managing their workday differently—and doing it BETTER. Be the one who operates ABOVE average. You CAN take charge your day and everything in it.

Don’t settle for less control, less clarity, or less focus. Don’t settle for less achievement or less productivity. This is when less is NOT more. It’s just less. And for your progress and success, it’s fatal.
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