“I’M TOO BUSY!” 3 Ways to Free up Time to Reach Your Goals
Have you ever had trouble trying to decide between the vital few and the trivial many? You’re not alone. We are bombarded with opportunities and decisions all day, every day, including, “Should I switch careers to follow my passion? What is my passion, anyway? How do I build my brand?”
If you’re not careful, you can try a hundred different things without waiting long enough to see a return on your investment, and who has time for that? Maybe that’s why so many people are embracing the Essentialism mindset, which is based on the idea that you can’t do it all, and that one can be more productive by focusing on the most important things in order to yield more progress.
While focusing may sound obvious, I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s hard to practice. It’s very easy to get caught up in extra projects at work, keeping the kids entertained, scrolling through social media, and upholding nonessential personal commitments. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and think you’ll never have time to devote to your goals. Essentialism tells us that if we don’t prioritize our time, someone else will. Here are some ways to apply this concept to assist you in reaching your goals.
You must ask yourself, “Will this activity get me where I want to be?” And to commit time to any opportunity, project, or plan, the answer must be a clear yes. If it’s not a clear yes, then it’s definitely a clear no, and you need to take an inventory of your day to determine what else can be cut. Once you’ve cut out the fat, pour yourself into only the most important activities. You may be asking, how do I figure that out? Here are some guidelines from the book:
Step One: Write down the opportunity.
Step Two: Write down 3 minimum criteria for why it’s important.
Step Three: Write down 3 ideal or extreme criteria the opportunity would need to be considered.
Meeting 2 out of 3 ideal criteria is not good enough. Remember, it’s either a clear YES or a clear NO. If the opportunity doesn’t meet your criteria, then you must decline. Why spend your time doing “okay” things?
Get Some Sleep
When it comes to productivity, it’s impossible to operate at your highest potential without sleep. We live in a hustle culture, and even I am guilty of spreading this message of #teamnosleep. We are bombarded with slogans like, “I can sleep when I’m dead” and “Hustle while everyone is sleeping. Rest is for the lazy.” We see others pulling all-nighters and feel that we’re not measuring up.
By focusing on the perceived success of others, we feel we need to work harder. However, research shows that without proper sleep, it’s impossible to develop creative ideas and execute the necessary strategies to accomplish our goals. Not only will your immune system be compromised, but self-care will be non-existent. Staying up until 3 AM every night without proper balance will not grow or sustain your success. It only leads to burnout and progress delays.
Learn the Graceful No
One great tip Essentialism offers is that delivering the graceful no is denying the request, not the person. When considering an offer or opportunity, consider the tradeoff. Focus on what you would be gaining by saying no and not what you would be giving up. Every great opportunity isn’t meant for you, and it’s helpful to pause before deciding.
That pause will give you time to develop a graceful answer, and if that doesn’t work, you can say, “Let me check my calendar and get back to you.” If you quickly said yes before considering the other things on your plate, you can respond with, “I’m sorry, but I said yes to your invitation too quickly before reviewing my previous commitments, so I will have to decline.”
I hate to break it to you, but you will never have enough time. There is always something to do and something taking your attention away from your priorities. You must also take the time to plan for the unplannable, and give yourself a buffer for the unexpected.
Stuffing your daily calendar to the brim will ensure that you’ll fail to complete things, lose time and money, and just plain abandon projects because they take more time than you thought they would. Don’t take on things just because you can. Commit to the right things, at the right times, for the right reasons. Remember, being busy doesn’t mean you’re productive.
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