The one question that I get asked all the time (like ALL the time) is “How do you get so much done?”
Or “How do you fit so much in? How do you bend the rules of time?”
I am left feeling confused and surprised because it doesn’t feel that I get any more done than the next person. I don’t feel like I’m working faster or harder or more. I’m definitely not bending the rules of time. I always wish I had more!
However after more than 20 years in professional services where I had to record every minute of my time (every 6 minutes equalling a unit), I have picked up a few tips and tricks along the way. Despite my background in technology, you might be surprised that most of my productivity and bend-the-time tips don’t involve technology.
5 Top tips on how to bend the rules of time
1. The ONE Thing
I was a member of Suzanne Dibble’s very first mastermind group and she recommended The One Thing book by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. The basic premise is that if you focus on just ONE thing, the ONE thing that is in your Zone of Genius as opposed to your Zone of Excellence, everything else is so much easier.
When I feel overwhelmed and don’t know what to do or where to start, I simply ask yourself “What’s the ONE thing I can do right now that will make taking care of everything else easier or unnecessary“.
2. Declutter your brain
On those days or weeks when you have SO much to do, when the mental load seems overwhelming and you just can’t think because you’ve got a client call coming up, the doorbell rings, you need to book dentist appointments for the family, your daughter wants you to check if you paid for her school trip to CERN, you’re conscious you haven’t followed up with the podcast guest for tomorrow, your accountant wants to book a meeting with you, you’re running low on rat food, there’s that client invoice to sort out, you owe Sarah a blog post, today’s newsletter to write …. and you haven’t had lunch yet.
OK. Stop. Just stop. You need to declutter your brain.
- Take a piece of paper. Take a clock (or set a Pomodoro).
- Time yourself for 15 minutes. No more no less.
- Write down all the tasks and reminders and To Dos that are taking up space untidily in your brain. Get it all out on paper.
- Once you have done that, reset the timer and prioritise what is urgent and what is important.
You’ll be able to think so much more effectively, be more creative and make better decisions when you have decluttered your brain.
3. Block out time
On the days that I work from home, it would be oh so easy to get distracted by social media, whether Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. Or to get caught up in my gender diversity research. Or to keep tweaking and perfecting my LinkedIn Masterclass page.
That’s when I find time blocking really powerful. For example, Tuesday is my ‘writing’ day – this blog post for example and my newsletter. Monday is my CEO day when I deal with planning, finance admin i.e. invoices, expenses etc. Friday afternoons is set aside for social media scheduling. Thursday mornings is ‘me’ time i.e. running and choir.
The other way I block time is to ensure that I have no white time in my day.
At the start of every day, I take an A5 sheet. First I draw a line down the middle so I can fit two days on one sheet. (Yesterday is on the right), with the hours written down the side. I block out the time for any pre-scheduled meetings, interviews and client calls, allowing time for travel, lunch and any ‘me’ time. In the example on the right, “Dog Walk” between 8am and 9am; “Mentoring” between 10 and 11am; and “BFC drop-in” between 1pm and 2pm.
Then I fill up all the gaps with the other important or essentials tasks I need to complete that day.
Now I’m not saying that I always stick to it but it’s a good starting point …..
TMI stands for the Three Most Important things. (Some use TMI as The Most Important thing). At the top of my A5 sheet (above), I write down the three most important things to get done that day.
Always THE most important thing is looking after me. The Confident Mother philosophy focuses on five elements: contribution, wellness, work, family and the feminine. I absolutely believe that looking after No 1 first is the most powerful key to my success.
That means eating healthily, getting enough sleep, forgiving myself for mistakes, accepting that good enough really is good enough and keeping active. I don’t write that down on my A5 sheet because, to me, that’s a given. However I do write down what else is most important to get done that day.
As long as I achieve those three most important things, I’ve had a great day. Everything else is a bonus.
Just one technology productivity tool … Trello. I LOVE TRELLO. It’s one of the online tools I talked about last year and I still love it. Trello provides a visual way to manage and organise your projects. For example, I use to:
- project manage my online conference
- launch and run my Confident Conversations podcast
- acknowledge my Wins and Achievements
- manage the family wishlist for Christmas and birthday present ideas
- share ideas with my co-host for our new On the Tipping Point podcast
- set business and personal goals
It’s brilliant for lists and project management. Here’s a quick snippet from the January 2017 online conference board:
I hope you’ve enjoyed this insight into the bend-the-time tips and tricks that I use in my every day life. I’ve got loads more I could share with you. Though I should caveat that the first rule of getting stuff done is to be absolutely clear on what you want. That gives you the confidence to take action, whether you use the strategies above or other tools and techniques.
What’s your favourite way to bend the rules of time and get more done?
p.s. if you’re starting to feel overwhelmed or perhaps you’re not clear on what you really want, let’s talk because I know I can help. Sometimes a simple conversation is all you need. And if you need more than a conversation, we can talk about that too.