It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about? – Henry David Thoreau
In spite of your career success, you may find you are a slave to back-to-back meetings, an overflowing email inbox and never enough time for the strategic work you should be doing.
Until someone figures out how to squeeze more hours into a workday without impacting one’s personal life, you will never get it all done. But that’s just it. No one will. And time management may be about saying “no” as much as anything else.
“Highly successful people don’t prioritize tasks on a to-do list, or follow some complex five-step system, or refer to logic tree diagrams to make decisions,” says Kevin Kruse, author of 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management. “They don’t think about time much at all. Instead, they think about values, priorities and consistent habits.”
Changing your mindset so that every minute of every workday is spent in alignment with your values, priorities and good habits will enable you to have much greater control over your time. And stop doing things that eat up valuable minutes in your day.
Travis Bradberry, author and co-founder of TalentSmart, offers up Ten Bad Habits You Must Eliminate from you Daily Routine in order to better manage your time. These are:
- Using your phone, tablet or computer in bed
- Impulsively surfing the net
- Checking your phone during a conversation
- Using multiple notifications
- Saying “yes” when you should say “no”
- Thinking about toxic people
- Multitasking during meetings
- Waiting to act until you know you’ll succeed
- Comparing Yourself to Other People
If you have any of these bad habits, then this is a perfect place to begin. In fact, not having enough time starts with gaining an honest appraisal of where your time is currently being spent. More than likely, there are things you can stop doing.
Take saying “yes” when you should be saying “no.” This is all too common for many leaders who want to make themselves accessible and not be a bottleneck. However, when you say “yes” to one thing, you are also saying “no” to something else. Are you making the right decision agreeing to attend a meeting when a more important task requires your attention?
Meetings are one of the biggest time sucks in a workday. Many meetings are longer than they need to be, have the wrong people (or too many) in attendance, and some are not conducted in the most effective manner. Do what can to avoid meetings that aren’t absolutely necessary.
Next time you’re invited to a meeting, at a minimum, ask yourself these important questions before agreeing to attend:
- Why is this meeting being held? – Ensure you have a clear agenda beforehand to determine if your contribution is necessary to what is being discussed in the meeting.
- Can I delegate someone to attend on my behalf? If yes, then be sure the person representing you is clear of your thoughts on the topic being discussed. Request that you be included on minutes taken regarding decisions/actions made at the meeting.
- May I attend for only the part of the agenda I’m needed? If you need to attend, ensure that you are not spending unnecessary time when your participation is not needed.
Since there are only 1440 minutes in a day, how you spend each of them is very important. Get your priorities straight: be sure you’re working to live rather than living to work. Remove bad habits from your daily routine and say “no” whenever possible to guard precious time.