Do you ever wonder how those other people get so much done in a day?
Do they sleep at all?
If you are a high-achiever (not necessarily a compliment, by the way) like myself, you can push yourself very hard for a sustained period of time. But then you may wind up dealing with health issues that slow you down eventually.
Is the idea of time management just a pipe dream then? Not at all. It is possible to perform at high levels and remain calm, balanced and focused in the process.
There are common practices that top leaders habitually do which amplifies their successful use of the same 24 hours we all have available to us. Part of these activities are about getting things done, while others are about maintaining focus and energy.
A Specific Sleep Pattern
The wisdom of those who came before us, states in many different ways, that in order to be successful, wake up early. This is why almost 90% of the top performers and executives start their days before 6:00 a.m. They aren’t skimping on shut-eye either. They have done the work to create the habits for getting seven or eight hours of sleep, and use their mornings to work out, write out goals for the day, read books or begin their work day addressing the most important projects.
Not a morning person? Well, there are other ways.
Dealing with Distractions
We all understand how many distractions we will face during each workday, regardless whether it is 10 hours or 16 hours. The best time managers build habits that minimize that. These individuals do the most important things (those which are priorities and move them toward their goals) first. They also limit their availability during the time they are focusing on the big things. They close their emails and their doors (proverbial or otherwise). They treat this focus time as sacred, and know that their time is the most precious asset they have. Far from ignoring clients and teammates, these leaders make time available for key meetings and conversations. They just don’t do it at the expense of what needs doing for their own goals.
As for the endless emails, many of which are sent to a group of people and then c.c’d to dozens of others, some successful people use their Inbox as a checklist. After deleting the spam and the not important at all emails, the top executives, go through their emails and delete them as a task is done. If a task can be put off until another day, they can use the boomerang system to put it on delay.
Gmail created the boomerang system to make business email work for you. With Gmail boomerang, you can write your important email and then schedule to be sent to a receiving email, at a later date. If you know a person will not be in the office, for two weeks, you can write that email and deliver it on their first day back.
Boomerang gets its name from the idea of taking one of your emails that requires your attention, but just not today. You can click the boomerang icon and set it to come back to your email box on the day you intend to work on it.
That’s just one hack for using tech to manage distractions for you. Instead of letting technology be the distraction, find the technology that can manage them.
Whole Life Time Management
While successful people plan and set intentions for their work week, they don’t stop there. They understand perfectly that planning their free time, family time, friend time, personal development time, spiritual time—and more—also contributes to their overall success. This is both because they managed their work time well, and because they plan for the time that isn’t about work. This 360° time management maintains balance in all the important aspects of life.
Broadening the Vision and Narrowing the Focus
Successful leaders know how to say no to the activities that either aren’t right for their vision, or aren’t right for this moment. They are able to do so because they know what their bigger vision is, their goals, objectives and strategies, as well as what their top priorities are. That keeps them from being too easily swayed by a demand or opportunity that could interfere.
At the same time, because they have done the work to create the strategy and vision, as well as delegate and outsource whatever they are able, these top leaders are also able to maintain the focused (and productive) effort where it makes the biggest difference. They know multi-tasking is a lie, and that our brains not only don’t work that way, trying to multi-task slows everything down. Our brains must focus and refocus very rapidly, and refocusing takes precious time away from focusing.
In order to manage time better, and create more productivity in the time we have, successful leaders really do two things remarkably well: they have placed incredible value on their own time first, and they have slowed down the manic speed that seems so common these days.
To manage time more effectively, just remember this, your time is worth slowing down, in order to speed up.