How many times have you promised your partner, your kids, or yourself that you’ll find time for those fun activities you did in the past? It seems like we can never find that time, and it’s frustrating that we can’t keep to that promise.

Although, there’s a way to create this time by dedicating 15 minutes at the start of your day. That 15 minutes can explode into an hour or more of time to spend with your family, or on you.

Finding time to fit in all the tasks of the day can be challenging for many of us. If we try to stretch out the day to get more in—wake up early, stay up late, or skip meals—this often leads to exhaustion and poor health.

Feeling exhausted is a warning that we need to make a change.

When we commit to too many demands, we end up sacrificing our personal time and valuable moments with the ones we love. What life have we created that has us committing to more than we’re naturally meant to give?

We’re not alone in this! We’re all guilty of over committing.

It got to the point that my son had to book an appointment so he could spend time with me. And just like my appointment with the gym, he got pushed around in my calendar.

I had to take stalk of what was really important in my life and decide what was my priority, not someone else’s. This involved making big changes in my life that at first were uncomfortable, but in time I felt more empowered.

Creating voids in our day to take a breath and connect to what’s really important is achievable and realistic. We just need to make a few adjustments to have us being more productive and available.

Take 15 minutes at the start of your day to go through these four steps. Once you’ve practiced this for a week or two, you’ll find an ease of adjusting to this new way of organizing your day.

Step 1: Define what’s Urgent and Important

There are many things in our schedule and on our todo list that can wait. Decide what’s urgent—that must be completed for that day, and important— where there are consequences for not completing it. Take into account all areas of your life — personal and business. For example, attend your daughter’s soccer game, pay the credit card bill, submit the report at work, and wish your mom a happy birthday. These things are time sensitive and have much value attached to the activity.

Step 2: Assign Remaining Tasks.

The remainder of the list needs to go somewhere. When we make a decision on less timely tasks and assign them to another day and time, they won’t be forgotten. These are tasks are important, but less urgent. Many times the space in our mind is taken up with trying not to forget what needs to be done, like picking up dry cleaning, or getting quotes for a project. Once we record this and schedule it, our mind becomes free to be present in the moment.

Step 3: Focus on one Task at a Time.

If we fill up our schedule with too many activities we bravely try to multi-task to get them done. Unfortunately, instead of doing one task well and completing it, we do multiple tasks awful, and many times there are ones left incomplete.

“Your productivity drops by 25% when you begin switching between tasks to finish them.”

Scott Amyx, in his book Strive

Completing a task delivers great satisfaction. Having many still left to do, makes us overwhelmed and unproductive.

Take the Urgent and Important items in Step 1 and allot a time and duration in your schedule to complete them. Also allow space before and after to address all distractions, since you’ll need to eliminate them while focusing on the task at hand.

That duration is important. When we limit the time we can spend on something the idea of it being perfect becomes less important than being done.

Step 4: Say “No” to what doesn’t add value

Many of the tasks that pile up in our day is because we say “yes” too often. Saying “no” is challenging because we want to help, we want to be seen as a team player, and we don’t want to be judged as being selfish.

When we say “no” we show others that we value our time and what’s important in our life. People will begin to respect that we’re committed to our priorities. We’ll be perceived as someone who won’t get pushed around, or taken advantage of.

As soon as you feel like you “should” do something, you create this internal resistance to completing it. Guilt is never productive.

If we find that there are tasks that continue to be pushed to the next day and then the next day, maybe they’re things that really don’t need to be done. Sometimes we have to say “no” to the task we impose on ourselves, especially if it offers insignificant value.

As we get into the habit of measuring our chosen tasks to what’s important for that day, we see voids in our schedule for the things that add more value to it.

Include others in this exercise who you’d also want to see receive benefit from you being more productive. When they see they’re on the Urgent and Important list, they’ll support you in your long term goals.

#productivity #personaltime #organizationalskills #leadershipskills