I have a daily battle with my email inbox. I try different tactics so email doesn’t dominate or dictate my day, but it is a constant war. I recently listened to an interview by John Zeratsky, author of a blog and a new book called Make Time. He was interviewed on the Afford Anything Podcast and I learned some cool ideas about a new way to look at time management.
My biggest takeaway is that time management doesn’t mean getting the most tasks done in a day, but rather crafting your day to do the things that optimize your life. I realized I can design my day by scheduling the things that are important to me and that small changes to the way I start the day can make a big difference.
Here are five key things to think about as you schedule your day:
Embrace your calendar by blocking time for the most valuable task or event of your day
Choose a daily priority and structure your day around that priority. For example, if you want to spend time on marketing your business, block an hour of your day or a few hours during the week on the calendar. When you look at your day you will see the time devoted to marketing and you will be less likely to put off that task for other things.
When my day is full of responding to emails and putting out fires, I end the day in a state of overwhelm. A better tactic is to schedule the perfect day and then anything else that might creep must be measured against the risk of not accomplishing your important goals.
Spend time with people in real life
Plan time with people you care about to add good energy to your day. Schedule lunch with a friend or colleague. Plan family time and date nights. Spending time with your favorite people will provide external reinforcement to focus your attention on the things that matter most to you.
We all know that time flies by and summer turns into fall and winter before we can blink an eye. We need to be intentional about the way we spend our day to balance the energy from accomplishing big goals and living in the moment.
Put friction between you and your distractions
Make it difficult to get caught up into the “time vortex” of constant streaming information. We live in a world of information overload and all of that data can add to our anxiety level. We can be purposeful in allowing information into our day by shutting off email or app notifications. How often do you go to send an email and then see an email from someone else that distracts you? What is your “distraction kryptonite?” Put barriers in place so you are not constantly bombarded with new information. My kryptonite is email, so I added an app called Boomerang to my inbox that pauses my inbox during the day while I work on other projects.
Transition from macro goals to micro goals
If your big goal is to grow your annual revenue to $150,000, start with a smaller goal (e.g obtain 2 new clients this month.) Put goals into smaller time frames to measure milestones.
Writing down a goal can provide motivation to focus your energy. Write your goal for the day in a notebook. You can do this at night before bed or first thing in the morning. I find that if I write down my intention for the next day before I go to bed, I am able to sleep better and wake up with a positive focus.
Make time for reflection
You have to juggle between time spent designing and managing your life and business and also doing the daily tasks and to do lists. If you end the day with daily reflection you can adjust your path in the right direction. You can also build time for reflection throughout the day. A daily walk can help you think about your progress and will give you time to lay the foundation for achieving your daily goals. Take time to check and see if you are tending to the things you’ve identified as your biggest priorities.
You can design a life that is both creative and focused. Be flexible enough to live in the moment and disciplined enough to keep on your desired path. The key is to be flexible and forgiving as you navigate your optimal life.