Time management is not always all it’s cracked up to be. Most people who follow time management programs find that they actually decrease their productivity and effectiveness.
If you want to get things done, focus less on managing time and more on yourself and the things you’re working to accomplish. Then you can begin finding ways to lighten your personal load.
Here are seven ways to make that happen:
1. Utilize the Talents of Others
Sometimes, if you have a lot to do, you couldn’t possibly accomplish it all by yourself, even if you wanted to. You need help from others—and the more people you know, the less you have to do on your own. First, though, you need to train, empower, and encourage your peers. Outsourcing and using the talents of others is a surefire way you can do less.
2. Do Less With More Focus
Most of us are so busy looking at all we have to do that we hardly take the time to focus on what needs to get done. Once you’ve decided what to work on—that is, once you’ve chosen the highest-impact task—get to work on that task and focus on it completely.
Reflect on what needs to get done, and then focus until it’s done. Don’t let yourself get distracted, and don’t let your thoughts wander—do what you have to do until it’s complete, and you’ll find yourself with one less thing on your list. Concentrated focus gets more work done than multitasking.
3. Systemize and Strategize
An organized person with a strategy is worthy of any amount of lofty ideas and dreams. Everyone needs to learn to systemize what needs to get done and strategize how it will get done. Take the time to think things through and reassess and realign yourself with what’s on your plate. Spend some time in thought and planning on a daily basis—for most people, the beginning and end of the work day are the best times.
4. Put Your Strengths to Work
It’s a lot more effective to work on the things that you’re good at than to spend time working on things you don’t do well.
What are your strengths? Do those things first, because you know you’ll do them well without taxing yourself too much. Ask yourself for each task: Does it give you energy or does it distract? If it distracts, reassign it to someone who can attack it with strength and gain energy from it.
5. Stay Mindful and Calm
What does mindfulness have to do with time management? Everything. Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing your awareness on the present moment while calmly acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. This simple technique can not only calm you down, but also helps you create the clarity needed to do the tasks you’re responsible for.
6. Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
It’s much more productive for all of us to spend our time on what works instead of reinventing the wheel. Use your creativity for what is needed. There’s a time for invention and experimentation and a time for doing what works, and sometimes it’s making the right choice between them that determines our productivity.
7. Give Your Best to Do Your Best
When it comes to getting things done, you have to be at your best to do your best. That means getting enough sleep, taking breaks throughout the day, and taking time to think and reset. If there’s something you want to accomplish, give it your full effort.
In the end, the principle is simply this: to be really good at doing less with more to do, focus not so much on what you can do but on how you should be.
Many of us were taught that in order to succeed we have to exert enormous amounts of effort and be constantly busy. However, the most successful people don’t necessarily work harder than everyone else—instead, they work smarter.