I used to be a full-on scatterbrain. I’d forget things, turn up late (and unprepared), and be weirdly proud of my ability to juggle all manner of last-minute demands. I was constantly in a frantic rush, yet I convinced myself I was doing great and holding it all together.
After all, as a busy working mom, that’s how life rolls, right?
Now, I look back on that chaos and wonder how I coped! I’m not that scatterbrain anymore. Instead, I’m efficient and productive and the only reason I can say that is because I got real with how I spent my time.
And one of the first steps was to get honest with me about where I wasted my day doing the following. It was ever so painful, but oh so worth it.
Wish you had more time? Want to reclaim your day and take back control of your life?
If you recognize any of these five-time thieves then this article is for you. Not only do I explain the sneaky thieves you have to look out for, but you’ll also discover how you can fix them.
1. Waste time on the things that don’t really matter
Fact! Not all tasks are created equally. It’s the 80/20 rule where 20% of your work will deliver 80% of your output and results. It’s the difference between being busy and productive. Busy as you run off your feet and creates the illusion that you’re making the needle move. Productive means you’re working smarter – not harder and you’re ticking off the things that really matter.
So take a good look at your day and get real about the tasks and activities that steal your time, but don’t add value to your life in return.
Tasks can be sneaky! Without a clear focus for your day, it’s ever so tempting to spend time on the easy, enjoyable tasks – not necessarily the ones that are most urgent or important.
One easy way to swap busy days for productive days is to create a prioritized to-do list. Write down your master to-do list and then critically evaluate every task. ‘1s’ are urgent and important. ‘2s’ are important, but not urgent. ‘3s’ are important, but could be done by someone else and ‘4s’ can [and should] be scratched off for good.
Get clear on what-to-dos will make the most impact and do those first. It’s an easy way to achieve more today while reducing tomorrow’s chaos!
Making edits to an article while sitting on a virtual meeting might make you feel super productive, but do you really get more done? Probably not. It’s a myth your brain can concentrate on multiple things at once. Instead, multitasking forces your brain to constantly switch focus from one task to another. Each time you switch, you have to reevaluate the task you’re working on and it can take a little while before you get back into the flow.
In short, you’re better off sticking to ONE task until it’s done. This approach requires less bandwidth and mental energy meaning not only will you do a better job, but you’ll work through to-do list quicker too.
There is one exception. If you’re doing a task that doesn’t require a lot of mental energy such as prepping food or taking care of household chores, feel free to pop on an Audible book or a podcast. It’s a simple way to get more out of your time.
3. Putting off hard tasks
Each day there will be one task that you’ll dread! It could be a task that’s super boring, one that’s going to take a long time or one that you know is going to get your brain into knots! If you want to have a highly productive day, discipline yourself to do that task first – however painful it feels!
You wake up with a finite supply of willpower and energy each day. So rather than procrastinate and waste your peak on quick and easy tasks, dive in headfirst. If you ‘Eat That Frog’ first thing, not only will you clock up a big motivating WIN, but you’ll also make every task that follows feel like a doddle!
It’s a simple way to make your energy stretch further and create more space in your day for more of the things you want to do.
4. Lack of a daily structure
Ever noticed how tasks absorb the time window you give them? We have too! Without clear deadlines that quick look on social becomes an afternoon of frustrating nothingness [and the backlog piles up].
You can avoid this ‘mistake’ by planning your day in 30-minute chunks using a process called zero-hours scheduling where you leave no minutes unaccounted for. This isn’t as full on as it sounds because you can allocate those minutes for a coffee break, for browsing social or even to do nothing.
The key is to give each task a clear timeslot [in the same way you do a meeting or a doctors appointment.] This helps ensure the day doesn’t run away with you and in turn helps your productivity soar.
When planning your day, create a timeline on your daily pages that are broken down into 30-minute chunks. The more detailed and intentional you get with your time, the more you’ll accomplish. Or if you’re looking for a planner that’s already all marked up, check out the SELF Journal. Built around a proven template for a super productive day, lack of structure won’t be a problem for you anymore.
5. Failing to plan the week ahead
Do you tackle each day as it comes or do you know how your week will pan out in advance?
Weekly planning was a game-changer for me. Not only did I feel more organized, but I got more accomplished too. It’s a simple tweak to make to your life and it’s one I highly recommend.
I use the Weekly Action Pad to make a note of everything I need to accomplish over the next week. I then prioritize my list and add in due dates to ensure I get the most important tasks taken care of first. I also add in a time estimate. This was a game-changer for me because it stopped me overestimating [or underestimating] what I could accomplish in any given day and helped me plan for success.
With the week planned out in advance, I know where I need to be and what I should be doing at any one time. It also helps me gauge whether I’m on track or falling behind in which case I can take steps to fix it before things get out of hand.
I’ve found the more intentional I get with my time, the more productive and effective I’ve become. I’m sure the same will be true for you too.
So if you’d love to have more time in your life and you’re all about working smarter, not harder, dive into the tips and tools I’ve revealed in this article. You may just find one that’s going to rock your world!
Let me know in the comments 🙂