The Ultimate Formula for Taking Back Your TimeJan 11, 2022
The Unpopular Opinion: Nothing you’re doing is important.
So, let’s quickly circle back to that unpopular opinion, shall we? Did I just say nothing you’re doing is important? *gasp*
Yup, I did. But let me explain. The reason we don’t feel like we have the time is because we are trying to do too many things… our to-do lists are overflowing.
I’ve talked about this many times, but we as a society have been taught that being busy equates to productivity. In reality, we cannot be productive if we don’t have balance in our lives… that is what leads to burnout.
When we prioritize everything, we are focusing on everything. Of course you don’t feel like you have enough time if you are stacking one commitment on top of the other.
There are two major roadblocks when it comes to having time.
1. The first block is procrastination.
A great example of procrastination is having your laptop open to your work while you sit on the couch binging the latest Netflix series.
There are a few reasons why we procrastinate.
The first is fear of failure.
You don’t even want to start a project because the pain of it not working out is greater than the potential pleasure of success. This one is especially true for all you perfectionists out there.
The second reason is due to the fact that we feel overwhelmed.
Whether it’s the specific task at hand or the greater scheme of things going on, when we feel overwhelmed, we push things off and distract ourselves with other things… i.e. going down a youtube rabbit hole or scrolling social.
The trick to procrastinating when you’re overwhelmed is to break down the tasks into very small steps. Once you’ve done this, only allow yourself to do one small step a day or per hour, depending on the deadline. Breaking down tasks also breaks down the overwhelm attached to them.
The third reason we procrastinate is because the task itself is boring.
Of course you can’t motivate yourself to complete something if you’d literally rather be pulling out your fingernails. When we procrastinate for this reason, it’s because we don’t see an immediate reward. We are human beings driven by instant gratification. We need to know a task is going to pay off before we spend time on it. In these cases, I challenge you to think outside the box; sometimes the reward is presented in a different way than expected.
The final reason why we stay stuck in a procrastination cycle is because we are easily distracted.
With social media and technology today we tend to have shorter attention spans, but regardless, a large handful of us have a habit of starting something just to do 20% and then get distracted and begin the next thing. If you procrastinate for this reason, it’s largely due to the fact that you are lacking clarity.
This brings me back to my aforementioned unpopular opinion and main point: when everything is important, nothing is important.
If everything is your top priority, how are you going to decide what needs your attention first? In the end, you won’t get anything done because you were constantly jumping between the numerous things that you have determined to have the same level of importance.
Determine which one of these reasons for procrastination most accurately represents you, and write down why you have the tendency to do this. You will be using this information for the ultimate formula for taking back your time!
What you really need is to get clear on your priority. This brings me to the second reason why you feel “you don’t have enough time” (… and why that is actually a lie).
2. The second block is lack of prioritisation.
You don’t feel like you have enough time because there is a lack of prioritisation.
This is you if you mark everything as important and you feel like you need to do it all. Here is how you can start taking back your time and get ready to implement the ultimate formula for taking back your time.
Step 1 of the ultimate formula for taking back your time: Procrastination becomes purpose.
Identify your most common reason for procrastination. From the four main reasons listed above, which one most accurately describes you.
Next, look at your list of to-do’s. Identify WHY doing these things are important to you. Go through each individual task and find your reason for completing it.
This will get you motivated because you’re not just doing something for the sake of doing it; you know what doing this thing will get you and that is propelling you forward!
Your action is to determine what your purpose is for completing each task.
Step 2 to of the ultimate formula for taking back your time: Prioritise your purpose
Most of us let our schedules get filled up by the people around us and then we try and plan our own life in the gap, when really it should be the other way around.
How do we take back control of our time and schedules? We prioritize.
Prioritisation happens on two levels: the first level is all about your overarching list of priorities. These are the categories of your life, for example health, business, career, family, relationships, and so on. The second level includes your to-do tasks.
The way to break this down is to get clear on what is important to you in life, from your greatest priority category to the smallest one. For example, your top three category priorities could be 1. Health, 2. Family, 3. Your career/business.
If your health is your top priority, then you want to make sure that the daily tasks you want to do relating to your health, like working out or meal prepping balanced meals, are your top priority.
Break down your priority tasks
Within each of your categories, you will also have a list of priorities, from the main priority to the tasks that are less important. If we use your business as an example, the most important task might be signing three clients. The to-do’s that move the needle and bring you closer to achieving this goal are the things that need to get done first! After that you can make time for the next most important thing on your list. Make sense?
Your action is to determine where each task falls on your list of priorities, using your overarching category priorities to guide you, and to decide how much time you will spend on each task.
The 3P Formula to Take Back Your Time
So, now that we’ve got the background information covered, let’s get down to the magic time saving formula!
(Determined Purpose + Clear Priority*Time) – Reason for Procrastination = You Getting Sh*t Done!
How should you use this formula?
First, get clear on why you are procrastinating; which reason resonates with you the most? Why is this something you do, and identify the triggers that make you want to procrastinate. Remove the distractions and start letting go of any beliefs about this task (i.e. this isn’t perfect or this is stupid, etc.) so that you can release procrastination.
Second, determine your purpose for doing the task; why is it important for you to complete this task?
Third, get clear on how all your to-do’s line up in relation to your top priorities. Which task is your main priority? You can only have ONE true priority at a time. Priority is singular. Doing the task that is most important will free up your time because when you get down the list to the rest of your to-do’s, you can reassess how important they actually are.
Finally, pair your top priority with the amount of time you are planning on giving to this task. Knowing why we want to finish a task paired together with a time limit deadline can help us complete the task with minimal procrastination.
What If I’m still Procrastinating?
If you find yourself procrastinating, identify if the task is important enough to do at all. If the answer is “no,” let it go. Give yourself grace and remember that not everything is worth your precious time.
If the answer is “yes,” go through this formula! There might be an important step you are forgetting or haven’t gotten enough clarity on yet, so dig a bit deeper.
No more stressing about *not* doing something whilst *not* doing it. K?
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