A friend mentioned the other day that she didn’t know how I get so much done in a day. Admittedly, I am pretty productive, but I’m not hyper-regimented either. Here are some of the ways I make the most of 24 hours.
How I spend my time reflects my priorities. My husband and son, of course. Work, obviously. Playing with my dogs, obviously. But I also make sure that the things that I can’t live without and bring me joy – exercise, golf, vacations, volunteer work, time with friends and extended family – get scheduled and prioritized.
I know that seems obvious, but I’m always shocked when people say they never get around to taking a vacation or getting to the gym, and when I ask them if they don’t have that time already blocked off on their calendar, they look at me as if I just invented the Ziploc baggie.
Time is finite. And it’s the great equalizer. The richest, most successful person in the world can’t buy any more of it, but they probably make the most of it by spending the most precious resource on those things that get them the biggest bang for their buck.
Set some goals for yourself that reflect what you want to do more of: cooking, reading, camping, starting your own business – whatever. And then put those activities, or at least the steps to achieving them, on your calendar. And this is the most important part: don’t break those dates.
Have you ever noticed that micromanaging takes up a macro part of your day? By trying to control everything, you waste a whole lot of valuable time.
You know the meme, “you have the same 24 hours in a day as Beyoncé”? Well, I bet delegation is her superpower. There’s no way you take care of three kids, drop an album, and launch a clothing line without being able to spread the chores around. You know Beyoncé is a delegator.
If you don’t like asking for help, consider paying for it occasionally. The world is filled now with apps and services and gig workers who will run errands for a very reasonable sum of money. Even just paying $5 for curbside delivery of your groceries (or $10 to have it delivered, as some grocery store chains in the Dallas area will do) can be a huge time- (and sanity-) saver.
Delegation opportunities are everywhere, even if you don’t have the budget of a superstar.
Real life isn’t school; you don’t need to get an A in everything. I realize this is heresy for the overachievers among us, but if you have some hypothetical activity that, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t that important and just needs to get done, I hereby give you permission to do a just OK job at it.
Obviously, you’re allowed to say “no” to those things that truly don’t interest you, but if “no” isn’t an option, allow yourself to do a “good enough” job – and not beat yourself up over it.
What’s Your Time Suck?
Spend some time monitoring how you spend your day. Are you spending more time than you want in passive activities? If you’re a television critic, you probably have to watch a lot of TV for your job. The rest of us can live without it or, at the very least, live on a drastically reduced diet of it. Ditto with social media and meandering through the internet.
Be honest with yourself about how much time you’re spending staring at screens. Judging by the fact that almost everywhere I go, all I see are people with their heads down immersed in their phones, most of us can probably go on a screen diet.
If you need some tough love, and you have an iPhone, the Screen Time function (in Settings) can monitor and even tell you that it’s time to get off Twitter (or whatever your poison is). If you’re having a hard time
Obviously, give yourself some slack. We are in the midst of Peak TV, after all. Maybe give yourself “Handmaid’s Tale,” “The Wire” OR “Breaking Bad.” But not all three. At least not sequentially, and certainly not at the same time. I try to limit myself to those shows that I only have to catch up for one or, at most two, seasons (Sorry, “The Americans” and “Game of Thrones.”). Other people have their own rules to prevent themselves from falling into the seemingly bottomless pit of streaming movies and TV. Whatever guardrails you need to set for yourself, do it. Life is too short to spend it staring at a screen – even if that screen is filled with Idris Elba.
What’s Your Productivity Secret?
Getting a lot done every day isn’t magic. It’s totally doable if you set your priorities and live your life in a way that reflects those priorities.
Do you have a productivity secret you want to share? Please feel free to add it in the comments.