Most time poverty problems aren’t about minutes and hours. They’re about prioritization and self-management. If you get better at those two things, you can free up a day a week pretty easily.
There are dozens of ways to improve in these areas. Here are 10 ideas to get you started.
Improve your delegation skills: Most leaders delegate badly, then wonder why the task doesn’t get done right and spend valuable time fixing it.
TOP TIP: Explain why the task is important and beneficial for you, the company and the person you are delegating to. Then let them get creative about how they do it.
Block the first 90-minutes of your day: No calls, no email, no news – just 90 minutes to focus on your number 1 priority.
TOP TIP: Do this as early as possible, preferably before 8am, definitely before 9.
Delete your email folders: Modern email tools have powerful search functions. You don’t need dozens of folders. I have 5. I know people who manage with 1.
TOP TIP: You are probably saving way too many emails anyway. Once you’ve actioned something, tend towards deleting it.
Batch similar tasks: Jumping between calls, emails, meetings, planning and so on is inefficient because of the time it takes to refocus every time you switch. Try to block periods of time for different types of tasks instead.
TOP TIP: Try assigning themes to your days e.g., Monday for new business, Tuesday for connecting with partners, Wednesday for reviewing strategy, etc.
Stop multitasking: It’s just a way of screwing up more than one thing simultaneously. You will get more done and to a better standard if you focus on one thing at a time.
TOP TIP: Walk the talk by closing your laptop and putting your phone in your drawer when talking to people face to face.
Stop consuming mainstream media: It’s mostly tragedy porn, and it’s killing your productivity, not to mention your mental health.
TOP TIP: If you must check the news, do it once a day max from a source that actually tries to report rather than sensationalize. If you find one, please let me know.
Turn off alerts: Free yourself from anything that beeps, bongs, vibrates or flashes. Alerts destroy your concentration and lock you into a constant cycle of distraction.
TOP TIP: Only check messages proactively at fixed times, then batch your responses.
Cull your commitments: Do you really need to sit on 4 boards, volunteer with 3 charities, and angel invest in 10 different companies?
TOP TIP: Focusing on fewer things that are REALLY important to you will free up hours every week.
Stop the meeting madness: Nobody should be sitting in back-to-back meetings all day, especially the person running the show. Only attend meetings where important decisions will be made that need your approval.
TOP TIP: Get all the information you need in advance and only attend the final summary and decision portion of the meeting.
Reduce your reactions: Just because the phone rings, you don’t have to answer it. As my mentor Alan Weiss always says, real wealth is discretionary time. And you can’t have more of that if you’re not in complete control of your calendar.
TOP TIP: If you’re spending all your time reacting to events, requests and people, rather than proactively dealing with them, you’re probably heading for a burnout.
Copyright, Hamish Mackenzie 2022