Where Is Your Time Leaking?
By now, you should have figured out your deepest why, the one that’s going to fuel your mission to become more productive. Now, we need to do a two-step exercise:
1. First, we need to find where your time is leaking.
2. Second, we need to declutter your routine.
Today’s lesson is about finding where your time is leaking. Tomorrow, we will focus on decluttering your routine.
We live in the “smartphone age,” meaning we are highly accessible and distractible. Time pressures are multiplying at a dizzying rate. It’s an unquestioned truth of modern life: We are starved for time. As time is a nonrenewable resource, you need to protect it, plan it out, and make the most of it. While there’s nothing that can be done for past time, there are certain things you can do to create more time now. So, to do more great work, you need to start taking ownership of your time.
Let’s start with today’s exercise:
Grab a pen and paper. While you can do this in a word document, I recommend the old-fashioned way, as it makes it easier for your brain to process information. We are going to start by doing a “brain dump,” i.e. having a look at your last month of work:
• At the top, list your top three priorities/projects (let’s call them “goals”) from the last month.
• Below, draw a line through the middle of your sheet.
• On the left side, write all the activities that brought you results. This is what I like to call “meaningful work.”
• On the right side, describe the tasks that slowed (or even stalled) your progress. These are your “meaningless work” actions.
Think of everything you did in the last month and then ask yourself this question: “Did this activity help me achieve my goals?” If yes, it goes on the left. Otherwise, add it to the right column.
List everything you can think of—the more, the merrier: meetings, internet surfing, grabbing coffee with coworkers, preparing presentations, etc.
Here’s a sample of mine, as an example:
I could go on, but you get the picture. At its core, my goals and what needs to be done are simple:
There are sub-activities within those on the right, but everything else is pretty much wasting my time.
For people who work for a company, here are some of the biggest time-wasters:
• excessive email
• online and offline conversations with coworkers/team members
• pointless meetings
• constant interruptions from phone or computer notifications
• non-work related internet surfing
Keep in mind that some activities might be meaningful and meaningless at the same time. An email or meeting that makes great progress in one of your goals should be put on the left column. However, being in a meeting of a team project that you are not working on won’t move the needle on your projects, so it should go on the right side.
Now it’s your turn to do the exercise.
Keep an eye on your inbox tomorrow. We will take the information you listed today and start decluttering your routine. You’ll start having more time to do the stuff that matters: your goals. And I will teach you how to choose the goals you should pursue.
To a Productive Day!
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