Knowing what markers to look out for in order to reach your ultimate goal is imperative, but what about day-to-day? How do you organize your daily workload so that you hit the milestones you’ve set for yourself?
Certainly not by working harder.
As cliché as it sounds, it’s true.
Working longer hours is not the way to get more stuff done.
Isn’t this ironic?
We live in an age of countless communication possibilities, yet we’ve never felt so trapped by the range of choices.
This might sound unthinkable, but when I was growing up, I didn’t have a cell phone. In fact, we didn’t even have a landline. In the USSR in the 80s, if you wanted to find out if someone was home, the only way to know was if you stopped by. Phones back then were a luxury.
Shocking, isn’t it?
I had seen cell phones only in American movies and didn’t aspire to have one—the bulky contraptions didn’t look lady-like at all!
I also didn’t care about ever owning a computer. All I knew about printers was that the stacks of perforated cards my mom would bring home from work that was spit out by huge mainframe computers were great to play with, draw images on and use as bookmarks.
Oh, careless childhood!
Fast forward 3 short decades and I can’t imagine my life without Apple products. Each one of them is eager to deliver to me my new communications. For every commitment scheduled in my calendar, I receive 4 notifications, 1 on each device conveniently synced with each other.
How ridiculous is that?
But what’s even more awesome (and tragic!) is that all those devices allow us to work from anywhere—in the grocery line, in a traffic jam, waiting in the doctor’s office in anticipation of appointment, on a flight to our favorite vacation destination, and even upon our arrival at that paradise when we break the promise we had made to ourselves to not work.
Stop the madness!
We work all the time. And what trips us up even more, is that our work is endless. Given the online nature of our businesses and our perfectionism, we are constantly working on creating something that is absolutely flawless.
We start with a small idea, but, by the time we are done looking through comments after announcing it on Facebook, we realize that we actually have a huge project on our hands.
The business we’ve started with so much love now feels like a trap. We busy ourselves with work every free minute of our time. Our family members don’t see us anymore and we get irritated when they insist on spending time with us.
Deep down we know they wish us well and feel guilty for choosing our business over them time and time again, but we feel like there is no other choice if we are to build a successful business.
Or is there?
I have to tell you a secret. I don’t wish I had more time.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t always follow my own advice (don’t we all know what we *should* do, yet often times choose not to do it?). When that happens, I push back due dates or apologize for getting to someone after a delay. In those moments I wonder if things would be different if I had more time.
But deep down I know that having more time wouldn’t solve the problem. If I mismanage the time I already have, having more time means that I’ll have more time to mismanage.
So, what’s the point of having more time?
Having more time doesn’t necessarily result in accomplishing more. Working more simply means working more.
That’s why how you do things on a daily basis needs to have a purpose.
The power of routines
To make the most out of your time establish routines that are uniquely fitted to your personality, your strengths, the demands of your business, and the people in your life. A single nomad would have different routines than a mom of 2. More than that, two different nomads and two different moms of 2 would have different routines.
So, stop comparing yourself to other business owners. None of them is like you, has your circumstances, or your experience. Stop putting yourself down because your results are “not as good as” the results other business owners choose to talk about in public. Stop doubting yourself if you are not moving as fast as other business owners you look up to.
Instead, concentrate on how you can improve your daily routines. It doesn’t have to be a strict schedule, but rather a rhythm that allows you to “fall in” with your regular activities… a way to compartmentalize the tasks to run and grow your business.
Once you’ve done that, some of these routines will happen on certain days of the week/month. Others, will be triggered when something else happens.
Imagine how much freer you’d feel if you created a rhythm where you were doing, let’s say, bookkeeping every Thursday afternoon for 30 minutes, blogging every Tuesday for 1 hour, and Twitter for 20 minutes a day 4 days a week?
Those recurring items would magically appear on your calendar. You’d be clear on your daily priorities and have the flexibility to add or not add more tasks to your list…
On the other hand, what if there is something you can’t put on your calendar as a recurring item? For example, if someone decides to buy a consultation with you? That’s a case of a “trigger” routine.
That’s where the checklists that I shared with you a few weeks ago would come super handy.
Clear. Manageable. Simple.
Creating rhythms for yourself will not only give you peace of mind, but also help you better estimate how long each task takes. Knowing the time each task will take means that YOU will be in control of your schedule and your business. Not the other way around.
You don’t need more time. You need to use the time you have intentionally, then you can accomplish much more than what your time usually allows.
Back to You
Where could you use your time more intentionally?