You maximize productivity by minimizing the nonsense that distracts you.
September 19, 2018 5 min read
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Do you ever feel like there simply aren’t enough hours in the day? While you can’t increase the hours in a day, there are plenty of easy ways to carve out more time for the things you need to accomplish.
How can you make more time? The answer it simple: identify things that are taking up time or causing procrastination, and make changes accordingly. Here are four easy ways to maximize your time so that you can achieve more:
1. Set clear goals.
Fuzzy goals won’t provide strong motivation. It’s very hard to work up steam for an endeavor or project that isn’t motivating, so you’ll tend to fall into procrastination mode, where it’s easy to fall back on the age-old excuse of no time.
However, if you have a clear cut goal, like “buy a $300,000 house within two years,” then you have something to work with. The more you want it, the more motivating it will be. With a goal in mind, you have the ability to break it up into achievable milestones that will begin to get you there.
There’s scientific data to back this concept. It’s called Goal Setting Theory, which is based on work done in the 1960s by Dr. Edwin Locke and Dr. Gary Latham. In researching the connection between performance and goals, they determined that there is a strong relationship between how specific a goal is and people’s job performance. Specific goals generally lead to better performance than non specific or easily achievable ones.
2. Create a routine and stick to it.
Success rewards routine. If you aren’t following a set of successful routines, you probably aren’t managing your time effectively. As an extreme example, consider the early morning routine of Apple CEO Tim Cook. He wakes up 3:45 am daily, claiming that it allows him to get through the 700 or so emails he gets per day, and gives him time to work out before he goes into the office.
That sort of wake-up time might not be for you, but you can definitely benefit from adding positive routines into your schedule. Consider waking up earlier so that you have time to get some errands out of the way so that you can focus on work later on. Or, you might make a routine of dedicating 20 minutes to career development after dinner each evening.
By setting a routine and sticking to it, you’ll find that after a while, it’s easy to make time for things because it becomes a habit.
3. Be accountable.
A lack of accountability makes it very easy to procrastinate, which makes it very hard to have the motivation necessary to carve out time in your schedule, even for projects which you care deeply about. The solution is simple: you need someone or something to keep you accountable.
An accountability partner can be extremely helpful in this regard. This is someone (a mentor, a friend, or a partner) who checks in with you to see how you are doing on your progress toward reaching your goals. When you know that your accountability partner will be checking in, you’ll probably be more likely to make time for projects or tasks. Just the very fact that someone has their eyes on your progress can be a powerful motivator to stop procrastinating and to start working on what matters.
4. Banish bad habits.
This is a hard fact to face, but frequently enough, your so-called lack of time is due to falling into bad habits. For instance, are you sleeping in all the time, or binge watching TV shows nightly? Are you on social media all the time, or are you going out all the time with friends?
You probably answered yes to at least one of the above — after all, you’re human. Everyone needs to blow off some steam or relax every now and again. Taking time off can actually be a very good thing for your career. But if you’re doing all of these things daily, then you’ve just identified several ways in which you could easily change your schedule to make more time.
How can you begin to change? Start small. For instance, you might start with 30 minutes a day where you have a self imposed social media blackout. You can dedicate that time to furthering your career by reading, studying or learning a new skill that you previously thought or claimed you had no time to pursue.