I’m going to hit you with a cold hard fact that I had to learn the hard way: YOU ARE NEVER GOING TO GET CAUGHT UP.
There will never be enough time to complete everything you would like to complete. Unless you are in the position to hire a personal assistant, housekeeper, nanny and gardener you will continue to be swamped with work and personal responsibilities.
Things will not change. ((sigh))
I recently made an impulse purchase on Audible that has completely reshaped the way that I work my life and career. It is called Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy. In the book the author covers topics that range from determining your priorities to delegating and eliminating tasks as well as the 80/20 rule and “eating your frog.” (Eww… I know. Not the best mental picture.)
If you struggle with getting it all done (and really, who doesn’t?) then I encourage you to make time in your schedule to read the book and try out his suggestions.
Ideas that I found particularly helpful:
- Plan every day in advance: Think on paper. Take a moment to plan your day in advance. For every minute you spend planning you can literally save 5-10 minutes in execution.
- Apply the “80/20 Rule” to everything: This was a huge revelation to me – Resist the temptation to clear up small things first. 20% of your activities account for 80% of your results. Always concentrate efforts on those top 20% activities.
- Focus on key result areas: Identify and determine the results that you absolutely have to get done to perform well and work on them all day long. Sounds simple when you put it that way, doesn’t it?
- Obey the Law of Forced Efficiency: “There is never enough time for everything, but there is always enough time to do the most important thing.” What are your highest value activities?
- Do your homework: Learn what you need to learn so that you can do your work in an excellent fashion. A major reason we delay and procrastinate is due to our own feelings of inadequacy or lack of confidence in our tasks.
- Leverage your special talents: There are certain things that you can do or learn to do that will make you extraordinarily valuable to both yourself and to others. Identify your areas of uniqueness and commit to becoming excellent in those areas. What are you really good at?
- Identify your key constraints: Determine the bottlenecks (internally and/or externally) that set the speed at which your are able achieve your most important goals and focus on alleviating them. (BTW – Only 20% are external. Most are internal. Ouch.)
- Take it one oil barrel at a time: You can accomplish large and complicated jobs if you just complete them one step at a time. Get your mind off the huge tasks in front of you and focus on a single action that you can take to make a difference.
- Put the pressure on yourself: Tip: Imagine that you have to leave town for a month. Work as if you had to get all your major tasks completed before you left. “Only about 2% of people can work entirely without supervision. We call these people leaders.”
- Maximize your personal powers: Identify the periods in which your mental and physical energy are at their highest. Structure your most important things to do around those times.
- Do the most difficult task first: EAT THE FROG. Conquer the most difficult task first and resolve to stay at it until it is complete. Do this and “you’ll become one of the most productive people of your generation.” Woo hoo. Who wouldn’t want to be known for that?
- Create large chunks of time: Organize your days around large blocks of time where you can concentrate.
- Develop a sense of urgency: Make a habit of moving fast on your key tasks and you will become an action oriented person.
Great ideas, aren’t they? If you would like to read more, the book is online and you can find a pdf here.
What do you say? Got any other tips you would like to share?