Busy…Busy…Busy…. Are you tired of hearing everyone around you say it? It has clearly become trendy to be ‘busy’. It is as if being busy made us look more significant, as if those who are busy had something more important going on in their lives than those who are not.
Busyness also gives us permission to be less available to others and their requests.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to be recognised for how hard we work. In fact being seen and heard are our basic human needs and our rights. If only we were being busy while doing something truly beneficial to ourselves, and to others rather than the regular ticking off boxes, doing the right thing by others, attending useless meetings etc.
I am sure that you also have things, which you wish you devoted more time and energy to, if only you had it, true? You probably wish you could do things that make you feel more fulfilled and your life more meaningful?
Here is the list of my 6 Time Management Strategies to achieve a more fulfilling life:
1. Get to Know Your Priorities
Get to know what is the most important to you, what you are driven to fulfil in this lifetime. What your purpose is. Whilst not everyone has a yearning to save the world, everyone has something unique to contribute, to share and to pass on to others. What is it for you? Spend some time exploring what your inner values are, what your life purpose is. What makes you truly happy when you do it? And then draw out a plan of action and name the steps required to achieve what you truly want.
Your priorities can be either things you enjoy doing right now, for the sake of doing them, such as: painting, yoga, writing, travel or it can be things you need to get done now in order to achieve your long term goal, your vision later on. Either of those will be activities to prioritise on.
2. Say ‘No’ and Create Empty Space
Once you know what your steps are, every time you are to make a decision about any activity you get involved in, ask yourself: Is it ON the way or IN the way of achieving my goal? If it is on the way, do it. If it's in the way, say ‘no’ to it.
In order to be able to say ‘yes’ to things you truly desire, things, which will make your life worth living, you need to say ‘no’ to your time wasters. You need to say ‘no’ to those things even before the right things come your way. This process is to create an empty space, the space in between no longer and not yet.
Opportunities will come once you have opened yourself up to them- created time and space for them. Say ‘no’ to the activities, which don’t serve you and look out for what emerges while you continue doing what feels right.
3. Prioritise on Important and not Urgent Activities
Stephen Covey in his book ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ divided our daily activities into four categories. He pointed out that the more time and energy we spend on urgent, and not necessarily important tasks, the more need we have to engage in so called time wasters – trivia, useless TV programs, pointless internet or social media scanning and then we never get onto doing what we truly want to be doing.
Important but not Urgent activities is what we need to be focusing on more in our lives, according to Stephen Covey. There is no urgency for us to get onto them, however doing them brings long-lasting benefits, satisfaction and true fulfilment in life. Therefore, whilst we are constantly striving to fulfil the urgent tasks such as responding to emails or attending to others’ important tasks, we often bypass what is just important.
Going on holidays (relaxing, recharging and regrouping) but also working on your vision, identifying your priorities as well as regular exercise, connecting with nature, spending time with family and close friends are all important but not urgent activities.
4. Influence Positive Change
Believe in your power to influence. Ask questions, as much as it is possible, about the purpose of meetings and discussions, question the methodology of things being done, challenge the status quo.
Use curiosity. Curiosity is one of the most powerful tools of communication, it allows you to present another perspective without being forceful and judgemental. You have the right to question even of management, if done in the right way.
Trust your judgement. If something doesn’t seem right to you, the chances are others feel the same way. Just because things have been done a certain way, doesn’t mean they have to continue. Show others the benefits of changing things. Try to tap into what is important to them and speak to that.
5. Communicate Respectfully and Assertively
Emails take up a lot of everyone’s time. You don’t have to respond to emails, phone calls or text messages straight away. Whilst I am no expert in managing inboxes, I know that it is important to find a ‘middle ground' in responding. On one hand you could easily drown in email-responding-process all day long and on the other, not responding for too long may not only jeopardise your relationships, but may come across as disrespectful.
It amazes me how many people don’t ever bother responding to emails or phone calls. Again, deciding which emails are important and which are not is essential. Remember though, that every action or inaction has its consequences and just because something may seem insignificant today doesn’t mean it won’t be important tomorrow.
If you find yourself overwhelmed with the number of email or messages you receive, a simple, but genuine and personable automated message acknowledging the receipt, thanking them for their business, consideration, attention, patience sent to everyone who approaches you, is a respectful way of responding in time poor circumstances.
Communicate clearly your expectations. Tell them what works and what doesn’t. My dear friend and a successful entrepreneur resolves the problem of not being the fan of listening to voice messages, perfectly. Her voicemail welcome message clearly states that she doesn’t check her voicemail and invites everyone to contact her via email or text message instead. That is a perfect example of assertive and direct communication, that whilst may challenge the tradition norms, communicates clearly and respectfully with her stakeholders and gets her and others what is needed whilst saving time.
6. No Multitasking
Multitasking is a myth. So many of us try to juggle tasks and not do either of them properly. The result is disjointed conversations, mistakes and then more time required to fix them.
It is proven that it actually saves time to focus your full, undivided attention on one task at a time. It is a very difficult thing to do. I find it challenging to juggle motherhood and running my business at the same time.
Aside from practicing mindfulness, what helps me are strategies, which allow separation of tasks e.g. by creating designated space for play with my daughter and another space (my office) for work. In office environment, such spaces are desks for email and phone calls, meetings rooms, lunch rooms etc. The moment we start having lunches at our desks is when we start juggling and not doing either of activities well.
There is also a schedule that I follow and try to stick to each day. Of course that changes as my daughter grows, but having a clear list of priorities and balancing activities helps. Balancing activities will be those important, but not urgent engagements we immerse ourselves fully in, for our own sanity, to rebalance and recharge. It is anything from walking, yoga or other exercise, meditation to massage, a nice relaxing bath or a catch up with a friend to talk all things unrelated to your regular life, in my case all things non-baby or non-business related. Those are also the important activities Stephen Covey refers to in his book.
Let me know:
Did you find those strategies relevant to your life? How? Are they going to help you manage time better?
Which one are you going to use and why?