Distractions, they are all around us. It’s so easy to get sidetracked from the things matter most. Learning how to minimize our distractions and focus more on our priorities goes a long way to improving the quality of our life.
Focusing our days on what really matters can be a challenge as is learning how to zero in and be productive. It takes discipline to manage our time wisely but it can be done.
I’m still learning how to make the most of every day but I have found some small successes along the way. For me, taking a few minutes at the end of each day to write down my schedule for the following one, does wonders for helping me stay on track and work toward my goals.
Having an action plan not only gives me an outline and a direction for how I want to spend my day but it also helps me decrease the time I spent on unimportant activities.
Following are my personal recommendations on how best to harness the power of a schedule.
Plan to do something every day you enjoy
I know I’ve talked previously about the value of scheduling in ‘me’ time but it really is important and needs your daily attention. Every day, schedule a block of time to do something you really enjoy. It doesn’t matter what it is or how much time you spend doing it. What’s most important is you give to yourself daily. Even five minutes spent doing something that fires you up will do wonders for improving your life and your relationship with others. You’ll be better able to tackle the rest of your day and give to others once you’ve given to yourself first.
Align your actions with your priorities
I may be old school but I’ve found putting pen to paper to be one of the best ways to figure out and stay on top of what’s most important to me. Journaling has helped me find clarity in what my priorities are and then writing down my daily schedule has taken it one step further.
When I write down my action plan for the following day, I am acknowledging not only what needs to be done but also what my priorities are. Without a written plan, it is easy to neglect what’s important and fill my schedule with meaningless stuff.
If you’re in the habit of neglecting what’s most important, it’s time to re-evaluate and take an honest look at your life and the changes you need to make. You have the power to change and live according to your priorities. We all do.
Increase your productivity with batch tasks
In any given day we have responsibilities and tasks demanding our attention. Without a plan of action, we can easily waste valuable time transitioning between activities in different locations. The best way I’ve found to minimize the time I spend transitioning between one activity and the next, is to group my tasks with other like tasks. For instance, I’m now in the habit of scheduling in personal task time before or after appointments I have with my lifestyle coaching and consulting clients. When I’m booked to be in a particular area of the city I live in, I will make a plan to run a personal errand before or after a client visit. It’s practical, makes sense and saves me a great deal of time by not having to go out and run the errand later.
Give some thought to how best you can schedule your tasks so they flow better and free up time for other things that really matter.
I’ve always thrived on a deadline. Maybe it’s my background as a photojournalist, but I’ve found a deadline to be a very powerful tool in getting something accomplished within a specific time frame. When we’re faced with a deadline, it is human nature to up our game and increase our effort significantly.
I am a natural procrastinator. Procrastination is one of my personal weaknesses. I use self-imposed deadlines as a way to avoid procrastination and take immediate action. When I write down my daily schedule, I also put time limits on my tasks. Further, I use the Pomodoro technique (the ‘timer’ method, I’ll explain more about it in a future post) to better help me focus the time I spend on each task.
Take one small daily step toward a BIG goal
We all have dreams. The difference between a dream and a goal is the action we take. Achieving short term goals are one thing but it’s accomplishing those big goals that can really challenge us. The only way I’ve found to achieve the large goals I’ve set out for myself is to make regular, daily progress towards them.
One of my personal goals is to downsize and relocate after my husband retires and our youngest son is finished his university studies. We’ve been in our home almost 27 years and we’ve accumulated a lot of stuff. Every day I do at least one thing that works towards my goal. (An action step may be as simple as removing an item or two from my wardrobe or culling my collection of gift bags and making a donation to a local charity.) My deadline is about five years down the road but the action steps I’m taking now will help me get there, without a lot of stress, panic and stuff to have to deal with when it comes time to make a move.
Every night schedule a small action step for the next day. Before long you’ll find those daily action steps have moved you much closer towards accomplishing your goal and the effort put forth, was not only manageable but rewarding as you’re seeing positive results for your efforts along the way.
You are in control. By scheduling your days, you’re also managing your priorities, focusing on what matters most, and better managing your time by deciding how you spend it.
What will be on your schedule for tomorrow?