Every single day we each get 86,400 seconds and what we decide to use those seconds for literally determines our entire lives.
So how do we use our time to become really productive, without just becoming busy fools, without procrastinating and without drifting aimlessly?
What does it take to become as productive and successful as people like Bill Gates and Sara Blakely?
In this post, I’m going to share with you some amazing productivity hacks and some powerful tools so that you can become your most focused and productive self.
HOW DO WE MAKE THE MOST OF OUR TIME?
When we have big dreams and are striving to build really successful businesses, it’s essential that we’re really strategic and intentional about how we’re spending our time.
The problem a lot of people face is that they don’t understand how to actually manage their schedules in a way that is effective.
- How do we avoid cramming so much in that we feel totally overwhelmed?
- How do we know what we should be prioritising?
THE BIGGEST CULPRIT BEHIND TIME-WASTING
The biggest reason people don’t make the most of their time is because they don’t have total clarity around what they’re actually trying to achieve and what it is they need to do.
As Bill Gates once said…
Time is our most precious commodity. Money can’t buy any more of it.
We all have the same amount of time, so the clearer you get on what you want to make happen with your time, the more likely it is that you’re going to become super productive.
HOW SARA BLAKELY MANIFESTED CLARITY INTO HER LIFE
So if you’re stuck in a place where you know you want to create more success, but you’re just lacking clarity, I want to share this tip with you from Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx:
Sara said that she used her manifesting skills to figure out how to get clarity around what she was going to make happen in her life. She wrote in her journal that she was going to create a product, sell it to millions of people and that it was going to be something meant to make people feel good.
And whilst she didn’t know the exact steps to getting there, she trusted that somehow the universe was going to deliver an idea to her. Two years later the idea arrived and Spanx was born. Since then Spanx has grown into a billion-dollar business.
If you’re in a phase right now where you feel like your focus and thoughts are all over the place:
- Open yourself up to finding clarity.
- Don’t be scared to ask the universe for help!
- Write down what it is that you want to achieve.
You don’t have to have the perfect picture or the exact idea, you just have to have clarity around what it is that you want to make happen in your life and the direction you want to be heading in.
Trust that somehow, the universe is going to give you the clarity you need to get to where you want.
This is an exercise I do all the time and it truly is powerful! A lot can happen when you open yourself up to finding that clarity and once you do, your life will start moving in that direction and you will be able to make so much more of your time.
IMPROVING YOUR DAY-TO-DAY PRODUCTIVITY WITH TIME-TRACKING
When you’re trying to figure out how to improve something, you need to look at where you’re at right now and create awareness. The same goes for improving your day-to-day productivity.
It’s completely normal to fall off track and to go through periods where productivity is waning. There are times when I feel like I’m not getting anything done, where things feel messy and overwhelming.
This is when I like to track my time so that I can get a clearer idea of exactly how I’m spending my days.
Time-tracking is a really powerful exercise that can shift your mindset and make you really aware of exactly where your time is being used (or wasted).
So how do you track your time?
It’s as simple as writing down everything you do in a day on a piece of paper, from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep.
Take note of the amount of time you’re spending doing everything and anything throughout the day: From preparing and eating breakfast, to the calls you have, to the moments of time when you just do nothing and even when you’re doing productive work.
Be as detailed as you can and track everything over the course of a few days.
Set up a reminder in your phone to go off every hour to prompt you to look back and record what you have been doing in the past hour and then just write it down.
Stick with this exercise for a few days and it will be a real eye-opener that will help you get clear on where your time is actually being spent.
GETTING CLEAR ON CORE ACTIVITIES AND PRIORITIES
When we’re building a business, there are so many different areas we need to focus on.
From creating products and services, to marketing them, managing business operations, building a team, staying on top of admin and the list goes on. It’s a lot to think about!
A really helpful exercise is to categorize the core areas that you need to focus on.
For example: It might be that content creation, marketing and visibility, calls, admin, operations and finance are core areas of your business activities.
- If you think about your business right now, what are the categories of work that you regularly have to spend time doing? Sit down and take some time to figure out what these categories are.
- Look at what you need to do on a daily, weekly, monthly basis – what tasks have you got going on? Make a list of all the regular daily, weekly and monthly actions you can think of.
- Once you have done that, look at what categories those tasks fall under so you can start categorising individual tasks into similar groups and then use those categories to block out dedicated time.
- The next step is to break everything down. You’ve got your recurring tasks figured out, but then you’ve also got to look at what projects you’ve got going on. Ask yourself what your main priorities are right now. Think about how you can break down that project so that you can bring it to life within your schedule.
Bill Gates talks about how he blocks his time and how disciplined he is with his time. He allocates every minute of the day to something, even if it is just 5 minutes of his day to one particular task.
If it’s scheduled in, it will get done.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SCHEDULING IN PRIORITIES
Every single one of us has priorities and each business will have different priorities of its own, so we have to get clear on what those priorities are.
As entrepreneurs, this often depends on what season of business we’re in, but for most of us, visibility is absolutely a core priority.
We have to constantly work on how we’re getting ourselves and our businesses out there, how we’re getting more people to discover us, to want to become fans, subscribers and customers.
This, for me, is always a main priority, so a large chunk of my time every week is dedicated to visibility and I make sure that it’s planned into my calendar.
I know that when I fail to schedule my priorities, the days go by, distractions come up all the time and I risk forgetting to focus on my core activities, such as visibility. This would get missed and I would then not be able to have the impact I can have if my focus goes to that.
So make sure you’re identifying what you really need to focus on and prioritise and how you’re going to break that down into chunks of time that you can set into your calendar so that you can actually work on it and get it done.
Take some time to map it all out.
I personally find it helpful to get everything out of my head and onto it a big piece of paper and once I’ve done that, I transfer it into my Google Calendar so that I can clearly see those blocks of time allocated to core activities and priorities.
CREATING A WEEKLY PLAN
I also use a daily planner, the Carrie and Co Perfectly Planned Planner™, so that every day I know what I need to tick off my to-do list.
Every Sunday (you can do this on any day that suits you), I sit down and plan out my week. I look at what my schedule looks like, I look at my priorities and my core activities and figure out what time blocks I need to allocate.
I go through Monday to Friday and make a plan for each day so that I wake up every morning knowing exactly what I have to do to make my goals happen.
It might not always be really detailed, but at least it shows me what I should be doing in each time frame.
It doesn’t have to be really specific, but every week you need to make that plan for yourself so that you have clarity around how you’re going to make the most of your time that week.
DON’T PLAN EVERY SECOND OF EVERY DAY!
Just as important as planning is also NOT planning.
Remember to leave some wiggle room for yourself because none of us are perfectly productive all the time. Remember that you’re not a robot!
I sometimes get to a point where I pull my schedule together but it doesn’t inspire me and I just want to be creative and let inspiration strike.
It’s totally fine to have times like that and to change it up and we have to do what works best for us.
Personally, I know that there are periods of the year where I’m in more of a creative mode and then there are other times when I know I have to get a lot done and it’s imperative that I get organised and disciplined with my time.
Give yourself permission for this not to be perfect and rigid 100% of the time.
For certain personalities, that rigidity and structure works, but I think that for most of us, we often reach a point where we need a break.
It’s good to factor in free time throughout the week so that it’s not all completely jam-packed. Leave room for unexpected things to come up, room for creativity, room to do the unplanned.
CREATING A DAILY PLAN
Aside from sitting down once a week and planning the week ahead, every single evening I sit down and plan out the next day and this is where the plan is really detailed.
I get clear on who I need to chase up or get in contact with and the tasks I need to complete.
This is where I use my physical planner to create that schedule so that I know exactly what needs to get done and at what time. This is what helps me to be super productive every day.
If you’re clear on what the big picture and vision is, you know what your priorities and recurring tasks are and you work your plan around where it is that you’re trying to get to, it makes life so much easier and more productive.
You’ll wake up every morning without that sinking feeling of being completely lost or clueless about what you need to be working on because everything has been mapped out and scheduled in.
PRODUCTIVITY TOOLS AND TIPS I LOVE
Here are some really great tools I use that helps me to be more productive:
I love an extension browser called Toby, which stores all the webpages you need to access on a daily basis. I use it to link to my email inbox, my calendar, the Members’ Club etc. Through Toby you can also organise and categorise, which helps me reduce the time I would otherwise waste chasing down links.
Another tip I love is something I once heard on a Tim Ferris podcast, which is to change the settings on your mouse and make it faster! This might sound like just a small thing but every little helps! Honing in on small details can save a big amount of time in the long run.
My favourite tool for managing my schedule is a Google Calendar. It’s so handy and you can access it across all your devices. It’s helpful for time blocking and colour-coding your activities so that your day is organised at a glance.
Another amazing time-saving tool I love is Lastpass, which helps you safely store and auto-fill passwords, rather than scrambling around every time you need to log into an account.
There you have it! Follow these steps and you will see a complete transformation in the use of your time and the results you’re getting out of every day, week and month.
With a little clarity, focus and some strategic planning, you can achieve so much more than just winging it day after day. Tasks will get ticked off, projects will get completed and goals will get accomplished. It’s truly amazing how far you can get when you’re intentional about how you’re using your time!
I would love you to leave me a comment and let me know what your favourite productivity tips and tools are that you use in your business to help you get the most out of your time!