How often do you find yourself running around the entire day, always on the go, and no matter how many things you stroke off your to-do list you never seem to get ahead? Whether it’s making a dent in the pile of work on your desk, taking the kids to soccer practice, or fitting in exercise. No matter how determined you are you become more frustrated and stressed.
The problem is the majority of people like to look or act busy. It’s a badge of honor in our society to be “productive.” Not looking busy will make others think we are lazy, a bunch of slackers as one may say. However, being busy does not necessarily mean you are productive. For example, pay visit to the local gym. Take a look around the room, I’m sure you will see someone reading a magazine while they are on the treadmill not even breaking a sweat. Sorry to break it to them but unless you are elevating your heart rate to the correct level you won’t see any change. Once again it makes one feel good they are seen as doing their part in maintaining their health, but are they really making an impact in their life?
Most likely the answer is no.
Studies show if one wants to maximize their time, they must limit themselves to the essentials. People achieve the greatest impact when they take on fewer tasks. They focus only on the most important tasks that will move them the fastest to their end goals.
When I don’t see a client come to the gym for a while, one of their biggest excuses is the lack of time. The problem is how is it that successful entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson or Oprah Winfrey are able to run multiple millionaire dollar empires? While the rest of us struggle managing our time with one job? They both have 24 hours in a day just like we do. The secret…focusing solely on things that matter.
Here is how you can start reclaiming your personal power to accomplish more by doing less:
1. Determine your priorities
What are the essentials in your life? Essentials are things that will impact you for the rest of your life. They provide you with benefits today, tomorrow, and many years down the road. For example, fitness has a life impact. By exercising regularly, you will get an instant rush of endorphin’s providing a sense of well-being and stress release. In the long term, you will look healthier, younger, and prevent the onset of diseases such as diabetes or stroke. You will also age more gracefully and stay vibrant as you enter your golden years.
2. Set main goals
Write down major goals want to accomplish. Make sure to be specific by listing the goal, and attach a completion date beside it. Review your goals daily to ensure you are on track.
When setting a goal write down all the things you will need to accomplish it. For example, if you want to lose 10lbs by December 31, 2016, you will need: gym membership (if you decide not to workout outside or at home), running shoes, gym attire, personal trainer, accountability partner, heart monitor, food journal, a subscription to a health magazine etc.
3. Get rid of distractions
I’ve experience instances where people would skip workouts due to peer pressure from friends to go for drinks after work. If you have a hard time saying no to people, this is a good time to start. When you start to say no on a regular basis, people will begin to respect you. Your time will be valued and people will no longer try to divert your attention away from you goal.
Once you have accomplished this, start eliminating unimportant time wasting tasks such as office gossip, reading your Facebook feed, and watching TV.
4. Change your habits
Take an inventory of your habits. Which habits are bad habits? Begin eliminating one a day and replace it with a good habit. Have an accountability partner or group that will hold your feet to the fire. They will ensure you stay on track, preventing de-motivation.
When you are in the process of eliminating bad habits make sure to keep your goals simple and achievable by breaking down your end goal into a series of sub-goals. Failure to do this will result in you giving up as the goal will look to challenging to achieve.
For example, if you are getting back to exercise after years of inactivity start with 15 minutes a day for 2 weeks. After that, up the time to 30 minutes for the next 2 weeks. By this time your body will have gotten used to the routine. After 4 weeks, increase the time to 1 hour. Your new habit of exercising regularly will now be a part your life.
5. Pick your battles wisely
A great martial arts master does not jump into battle flailing away with no plan. You need to approach your day with the same mindset. All your actions must be strategically carried out to offer you the most efficient use of your time. My suggestion is:
Cut down on email distractions – No need to respond to email right away. Within 24 hours is good enough. Set a time to respond to email such as noon during lunch and at the end of the day. Also, keep the messages as short as possible and to the point.
Work on 3 major tasks at a time – I allocate 1 hour for each task before moving on. To make sure I stay on track, I set a timer.
6. Eat healthy foods
The sugary breakfast and coffee are not going to cut it if you want to have endless energy. Eating healthy not only makes your skin look great but it helps your brain function at the highest level. When you have energy, you gain mental clarity and the ability to make better decisions. You also avoid the dreaded afternoon sugar crash where you being to feel sleepy.
Eat whole foods staying clear of processed foods as much as possible. Add lots of fresh fruit, vegetables, and lean meats.
7. Develop a morning routine
The one thing all successful people have in common is they get up early in the morning. My father used to be up by 5:30am. Before heading down to the office he would practice martial arts in the parking lot of a local Kmart followed by a quick breakfast. Martial arts were his way of clearing his mind, allowing him to focus on the present. You can also achieve this by practicing meditation, yoga, tai-chi, qigong, or taking a quiet walk.
When you get into the office begin work on the 3 most important tasks. Make sure you don’t check emails or get on social media. This routine has never failed me. It has given me a sense of accomplishment especially when noon rolls around and I see I how much closer I’ve come to achieving my goal. Not only does it make me feel motivated but it relieves a lot of stress as well.
No matter what your goals are, implement this technique into your daily lives. It certainly does work wonders, and it is what separates the successful champions in life from the dreamers.
Take care and happy goal setting!