“Losers focus on what they are going through. Champions focus on what they are going to.”
Dr. Mike Murdock, author
If you’re like a lot of people, you’re going through some very busy times. Indeed, your whole life might feel super busy and you may wonder if you’re ever going to get through all the things you have to do.
If that sounds like you, I’ve got some good news. There are a host of things you can do to take control of your time.
(In fact I’ll give you “57 Ways To Save An Hour A Day At Work And At Home” during my brand new webinar coming August 21st at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time.)
For starters, you can take control of your time by taking control of three areas.
1. Control your habits.
One of the biggest time-wasting habits is procrastination. It’s totally illogical, because it always takes more time to do it later than it takes to do it now.
Nevertheless, people often spend more time joking about their procrastination than overcoming it. As one person said, “One of these days I’m going to get help for my procrastination problem.” Somebody else said, “I like work. It fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours.” And someone else quipped, “The worst form of procrastination is reading a procrastination quote, feeling the guilt and not doing anything about it.”
If procrastination is eating up some of your time, use this four-step procrastination cure.
Do the most painful activity first. If you do the thing you dread the most … at the beginning of your day … it will make the rest of your day so much more pleasant. And you won’t waste precious minutes thinking about the activity you are dreading.
Poke holes in a project. When you’re confronted with a project that seems so large that you don’t even know where to start, just start … by focusing on a portion of the project. Give it your all for thirty minutes. If you do that on a consistent basis over a period of time, your project will look like a piece of Swiss cheese, filled with holes, as it gradually gets eaten away.
Reward yourself. Tell yourself that you will reward yourself with a pizza or a massage or whatever you like WHEN you complete a certain project.
Get an accountability partner. Get a person who will hold you accountable … who will ask you how things are going, who will encourage you to keep on keeping on, and who will confront you when you have more excuses than results.
Time is your most valuable commodity. Don’t waste it on something as worthless as procrastination.
2. Control your office.
I read a Dilbert cartoon by Scott Adams that made my skin crawl. The boss said, “We’ve got a lot of empty cubicles because of downsizing. I hired the Logbert Construction Company to convert part of the office into prison cells which we’ll lease to the state.”
Dilbert commented, “Sounds like a big job.”
To which the boss responded, “Nah, a little paint, new carpet and we’re there.”
The cartoon continues by relating the differences in employees and prisoners, namely that the prisoners had a better health plan. And ultimately the plan to use spare cubicles as prison cells had to be abandoned because of too many complaints from the prisoners.
We can laugh, but the fact of the matter is your office (if you have one) may be set up to steal your time rather than allow you to control your time. Try some of these techniques, which I picked up from a speaker friend of mine, Michael Podolinsky when we were both speaking in Malaysia at the same. Some of them you’ll be able to use immediately and they will save you time. Some of the other techniques may not be possible in your work environment. Just choose the ones that work for you.
Decide it’s YOUR office, not everybody else’s. Which means you should have a say as to what happens in your office. You may have an open-door policy, but that does not necessarily mean your door is open and you’re available 24/7. It means your door is open during certain periods of the day … unless there is an emergency. Other interruptions can wait until your door is open.
Face away from the door. Otherwise people who are walking by will catch your eye, which often turns into a few seconds of idle chit chat several times a day. And there goes your time management. Out the door.
Get rid of the two obligatory chairs in front of your desk. They simply invite people into your office to sit down and talk away. If you get rid of the chairs, people get to the point more quickly. And if you decide you really want and need to dig into a topic more deeply, just tell the other person, “Let me get a chair for you.” Your bit of extra effort at that point communicates a strong message of affirmation.
Stand up and meet people at the door to your office. You can be friendly and attentive, but if the conversation takes place at a standing level, the other person almost always gets to the point much more quickly.
Answer honestly. When someone asks “got five minutes?” tell them exactly the amount of time you have. You might reply by saying, “Yes, I have five .. or … I can’t talk right now as I have to finish this up but come back at 2:15.. Would that be okay?” Whether you see the person then or later, you’ve established some boundaries as to how much time you’re willing to devote to a certain subject and once you’ve established some boundaries, most people will respect them.
Get paged or buzzed. This is a little sneaky and you may or may not want to do it. But you could have one of your teammates call you five minutes into a conversation. You could reply by saying, “Thanks. I’ll get on that right away” which cues your talker to come to a close. Or you could respond by saying, “I’m in the middle of a very important conversation and that will have to wait awhile. In the first instance you’ve politely closed the conversation and in the second instance you’ve affirmed the talker.
To control your time, you have to take a proactive approach to your office.
3. Control your tongue.
If you can’t say “no,” your time will be robbed by a thousand different people and causes. You’ve got to say “no” more often if you want any sense of control over your time … and ultimately your life.
I know it’s not easy. I even find it difficult. But it’s a communication tool that will save you time and increase your freedom.
Try some of these techniques.
Review your goals. If the other person’s request is not consistent with your goals … or even gets in the way of achieving your goals … say “no.
Practice saying “no” to little things so you eventually have the guts to say “no” to bigger things.
Visualize success. If a particular person is stealing too much of your time, but you have difficulty saying “no” to that person, visualize yourself saying it. The more you practice the picture, the more success you’ll have.
Check your spoil meter. Maybe you’re being too kind. Obviously, if you are a parent who always says “yes” to your kids, most of us would label you a bad parent. You would be spoiling your kids. They would become entitlement monsters. The same truth applies to everyone else in your life. If you always say “yes” to them, you’re spoiling them. Stop it!
Offer a compromise. You could say “no” to leading up a project that might take 50 hours of your time but offer to be a consultant to the team and give them 20 hours of your input Or you could say, “Sure I’d be glad to help you with that if you will help me with this.”
I can’t overstate the importance of time in your life. How you spend it will determine the quality of everything in your life … from the success of your job to the quality of your marriage and from the state of your health to your sense of well being. It’s just too important to mess around with. That’s why I hope you’ll join me on August 21, 2014 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern time for my brand new webinar on “57 Ways To Save An Hour A Day At Work And At Home”.