Every day someone is telling me how busy they are and I have to admit I never seem to have enough hours in the day. The problems with being too busy are not just practical … it weighs on our mental well-being too when we never feel like we catch up.
There are many great ideas that we could cover but I wanted to start with 3 simple truths that will help you get more done and feel better about what you achieve.
The 80/20 rule
This is one of the best ways to make better use of your time. The 80/20 rule which is also known as The Pareto Principle, basically says that 80 percent of the value you will receive will come from 20 percent of your activities.
This means that a lot of what you do is not as useful or even necessary to do as you may think. You can just drop – or vastly decrease the time you spend on – a whole bunch of things. And if you do that you will have more time and energy to spend on those things that really brings your value, happiness, fulfilment and so on.
The challenge is clearly identifying the activities that do bring you the big gains and that starts with working out what exactly it is that you want. What is your goal … is it a smoothly running household, happy and thriving family, is it income, business success? Whatever it is … write it down.
Then do an honest audit of the things you spend your time on and how much they contribute to your goal or goals. That will help you to work out what things are in the 20% of things that make 80% of the real difference.
You can do things quicker than you think! This law says that a task will expand in time and seeming complexity depending on the time you set aside for it. For instance, if you say to yourself that you’ll come up with a solution within a week then the problem will seem to grow more difficult and you’ll spend more and more time trying to come up with a solution.
So focus your time on finding solutions. Then just give yourself an hour (instead of the whole day) or the day (instead of the whole week) to solve the problem. This will force your mind to focus on solutions and action.
The result may not be exactly as perfect as if you had spent a week on the task, but as mentioned in the previous point, 80 percent of the value will come from 20 percent of the activities anyway. This will help you to get things done faster, to improve your ability to focus and give you more free time where you can totally focus on what’s in front of you instead of having some looming task creating stress in the back of your mind.
Take a practical example … lets say you have to pack for a trip somewhere … if you give yourself 4 hours to do that it will take 4 hours but if you allocate 1 hour, you will probably pack 90% as well but in 25% of the time. Ask yourself how crucial that 10% better packing is and whether it was worth 3 more hours.
Now I am not saying to leave everything to the last minute but a happy medium will save you time and for little loss in quality.
Boring or routine tasks can create a lot of procrastination and low-level anxiety which makes my head fuzzy. One good way to get these things done quickly is to batch them which means that you do them all in row. You will be able to do them quicker because there is less start-up time compared to if you spread them out. And when you are batching you become fully engaged in the tasks and more focused so you are often doing a better job too.
A batch of things to do in an hour today may look like this: Clean your desk / answer today’s emails / do the dishes / make three calls / write a grocery shopping list for tomorrow.
Putting a whole lot of the same type of job in a row is great too … some excellent examples are phone calls, banking, bills, school lunches, cooking meals etc Rather than cooking every night, why not cook 3 times a week but do larger portions or several meals at once … obviously you have to choose ideas that work for you and your family.
Batching is a super powerful idea once you begin thinking of what isn;t absolutely urgent and can wait to be done with similar tasks.
These are just 3 simple principles and there are stacks more … how do you save time and effort in your day?