You must adapt the mindset that you own your time. It’s yours to control, to protect, and to nurture. If you don’t take ownership of your time, someone else will—you’ve heard that before and it’s true. If you don’t nurture your time—tend to it—it’ll fade away and be wasted. Owning your time requires you to protect it from the outside intruders that want to take it from you—mostly in the form of interruptions and unproductive meetings.
I have been training on time management for 26 years and the difference between what I taught then to what I teach now is black to white. Three of the best tips I ever learned about in time management helped me in ways that were unforeseen in the past. Mostly because we didn’t have the technology and the insights we have now. I feel these three ideas are critical to you successfully owning your time.
There is so much in life we don’t have to do ourselves. You can probably think of a few right off the top of your head—even more if you gave it serious consideration. The question is simple, “What are the tasks I do each week, each day that I can somehow automate?” If you think there is something you can’t automate, ask google the question.
I have eaten the same breakfast for years with very little variation. I own two suits, one blue, one gray five white shirts and my ties and shoes match no matter which I blindly reach for or slip on.
I don’t have to sell you on the idea getting redundant tasks out of your calendar. You can have your paycheck deposited directly, you can have your groceries delivered each week, and you can have complete meals sent to you.
What I may have to sell you on is using a Virtual Assistant (VA). I pay someone in India $4.00 an hour to manage my emails—it takes her about 90 minutes a day but, for me it may be over 2 hours. Plus, since I prefer to only read emails once a day, she only forwards important emails once a day. When I want to research a topic to write about, I pay someone $7.00 an hour and when she’s done I receive an excel spreadsheet with everything broken down for me. I even have someone do my on-line shopping; just tell her what I’m looking for and I get a breakdown with pictures.
The point is this, outsource/automate the redundant tasks in your life and you free your time to do more important, greater ROI, more enjoyable tasks yourself.
Years ago I started thinking that the morning is the most important part of the day. How my mornings went, nearly 100% of the time, impacted how my days went. If I wanted to have a positive attitude, a high energy level, and a sharp mind throughout the day, I needed to take the actions necessary in the morning to ensure these things. I decided I needed a routine (automate) to start my day in the most optimal way. My morning became my liftoff into space–the more successful my launch, the more successful the journey and my return flight to splashdown.
The goal of my launch sequence is to use 60 minutes to prepare myself mentality, emotionally and physically to own my time. It also had to be travel proof—something I could do no matter what city I was in.
I experimented with a number of ideas ranging from mediation to rigorous exercise to the foods and supplements I took. But, what I found worked best for me are these ideas.
Mentally: Reading or listening to a podcast. I’m always looking to learn more about leadership, time management, and being an entrepreneur. Maybe you prefer books on CD’s or set up your RSS to find articles in your industry.
Emotionally: I have a mix of three songs that inspire me, I sit quietly and try and grasp the meaning of the words. I highly recommend “Ring Them Bells” by Bob Dylan. Also, I will review my ‘purpose critical’ goals and consider different approaches to achieving them.
Physically: I used to go for a six mile run but then found it was actually sucking my energy later. I found it’s important to exercise enough to get me to breath heavy. Now I do a core workout that takes about 15 minutes to complete. Maybe you would like a good walk. Don’t rule out a good round sex.
Plan Weekly, Organize Daily
Dr. Stephen Covey first brought this idea to us in the early 1990’s. To be highly effective we have to plan our week, not our day. When we try to plan daily—at 8: AM when we first get to our workspace—we may already be in crisis mode. We start to get interrupted by people, email and the telephone before we even settle into our chair. It’s very difficult for us to attempt any planning of the day, even if our mind is focused on the importance of planning.
Planning weekly allows us to connect with our goals and look into the week to come and calmly, intelligently plan an effective week. Look at the 3 or 4 activities that bring you closer to your goals and plan them into your weekly calendar—be careful not to over plan, you’ll sacrifice too much if a true crisis comes up.
I like to do my weekly planning on Friday, late afternoon. That’s because the past week is still fresh in my mind–I can look back to see what went well and what went ill. And the new week is far enough out so I have a feeling that it’s still mine to own.
When I do my weekly planning on Friday afternoon I am able to put work away for the weekend. Combine that with putting away my smart phone allows me to have two days that are truly my own.
Remember what I wrote in “7 Slight Edges to Owning Your Time,” have faith. These ideas work, maybe you only need 30 minutes to launch, maybe 90 minutes. Maybe you have trust issues or problems with delegating to a VA? And maybe your idea of planning is a ‘to do’ list. All of that is OK, tweak your ideas until they fit you.
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