How To Add More Productive Hours To Your Day

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Ok, so I can’t literally tell you how to add eight additional hours to your day, and I don’t want to teach you how to be more productive for the sake of checking off more things daily on your to-do list. Instead, I want to share some tips with you that will help you be more productive in a meaningful way daily.

What is the single greatest resource or asset that you currently possess?

Education? Money? Your home? The single greatest asset is something we all have, and that’s TIME. We may not all have the same educational background or financial status, but we all have the same 24 hours every day.  With time you can expand your education or make more money, but you cannot buy more time.

Time is the great equalizer.

With the chaos that is life, time is the only constant variable.  So how do you manage your time?

Calendars? To-do lists? Life Planners?

Answer: You don’t.

If you are using the above-mentioned tools and still feeling like…

  • There is never enough hours in the day to knock out everything on your to-do list
  • You struggle to find time to do all of your business/work tasks and still have a non-work life
  • You start the day with a long to-do list, but either accomplish very little or nothing at all
  • You have no idea what to do first on most days
  • You struggle to stay motivated and energized throughout the day

Well, I have news for you – here’s the reality of your situation…

You don’t have a time management problem. You can’t manage time. Time keeps ticking on regardless of our actions. Instead, you have a self-management problem.  Rather than focusing on controlling something that you can’t control, time, you should be focusing on the one thing you have full control over, yourself.

Your goal is not to magically add eight more hours to your day.  Instead, it’s to learn how to manage what you give your attention to throughout the day and how to increase your focus on things that are most important to you.

So how do you go from simply being busy to meaningful productivity?

By definition busy means engaged in action, but productive means yielding results, benefits, or profits.  What good are your actions if they are not yielding the desired results in your life?  Even better question – What are your actions saying about your priorities?

I hate to be the one to tell you this but…

If you dream of owning a business one day, watching funny cat videos on YouTube won’t get you there.

So what will?  I’m glad you asked!

First and foremost, you have to figure out what matters most to you.  What does success look like to you?  If you don’t have a vision for your life, how will you know what actions to focus on?  You have to learn how to invest your time in the things that matter most because if something really matters, you’ll act on it. It won’t just sit on your to-do list for a month.

Think about what motivates you. What fulfills you? 

Once you know what your priorities are, you can start making better choices with your time.

Here are 5 keys that will increase your productivity:

Schedule everything!

The goal here is to plan your day rather than react to it.  As soon as you wake up, life happens and you immediately start putting out fires.  By the end of the day, you are exhausted, and you can’t even remember what all you did.

Reserve time the night before to plan out your day. Ask yourself…

What are things that you have to do? (Example: take kids to school, go to work)

What steps can you take tomorrow that will benefit your end goal?  (Think about your big picture.)

Are you making time for things that bring you joy? (Example: reading, working out, spending time with family)

Lastly, what can you automate in your life?  What small tasks can you remove or complete in a more automated manner?

For example, my sister-in-law has cut down her time at the grocery store tremendously by using the store’s online ordering system.  Throughout the week she keeps a running list of things she needs from the store.  She then goes online and places her order.  She drives to the store when her order is ready, and a clerk brings out all of her groceries and loads them into her car.

How much extra time would you have to work on your goals if you didn’t have to wander aimlessly around the grocery store while wrangling your children or standing in long lines when there are only two lanes open?

Detox from technology

I’m sure none of us are really willing to admit how much time we spend scrolling through social media, but I’m willing to bet it’s a lot.  There are times when I think, “I’ll just check my notifications.”  An hour later, I’m caught up watching some stupid video that has absolutely nothing to do with anything that’s important to me.

What are these distractions keeping you from accomplishing?

My mentor asked a question that felt like a literal slap in the face.  It really woke me up!

She said, “Why am I choosing Facebook over my vision for my future?”

Is it the fear that we might miss something? (Newsflash: You won’t!)

Or is it a deeper reason we run to these distractions?  Are you afraid to succeed?  To step out of your comfort zone?

I was.  I was afraid of rejection and feeling like I wouldn’t measure up to everyone else, so rather than face my fears I chose a distraction.

What I found to be true is that our time here is limited, and it is more important to me to live a life of happiness and fulfillment than to live a life full of fear.

So what are you going to choose?

Reserve time for yourself

The third step is probably the most important of them all.  You can’t pour from an empty cup.  You should be setting aside time daily to refill your cup.  The truth of the matter is you can’t be everything for everyone and yet be nothing for yourself.  Make yourself a priority.

Find ways to add value to your day.  How can you grow today?  Listen to an audiobook if you have a long commute. Spend 10-15 minutes reading every day.  Be a sponge in a world full of information.

Life is a journey, and you are the vehicle.  You would do a maintenance check on your car before a big road trip, right?  So why are you not doing self-maintenance checks on your vehicle?  Stop riding through life in a lemon.

Stress, anxiety, and depression can no longer be things we overlook or shrug off as normal. Self-care and mental health are vital to our well-being.  Invest the necessary time in yourself to sharpen the saw, continue to grow, and seek help if you are struggling to overcome emotional and mental barriers.

Know your limits

Again, the idea is not to create a giant to-do list. It’s to come up with a daily game plan.

Learn to say no.  A priority for someone else may not be a priority to you.  There should be no guilt in wanting to focus on your dreams.  If it doesn’t contribute to vision, let it go.

Stop multi-tasking. You can not do it all. None of us can, and you run the risk of burnout when you attempt to. Studies have shown that multi-tasking actually isn’t the most productive way to do things.  Focus on one important task at a time and take occasional breaks.

Unexpected things will pop up – be flexible. Be open to completing a task differently. If something’s not working change the plan, not the goal.  

Cultivate new habits

In a world obsessed with instant gratification, it is easy to misconstrue how success is achieved.  Social media profiles give the illusion of overnight success, but it doesn’t work that way.

Want to know what leads to success?  Habits.

Habits are the tiny actions we take daily that compound over time.

My mentor always says, “How you spend your time is how you spend your life.”

What are your habits saying about your life?  If you continue on the path you’re currently on, where will it lead?

As a millennial, this is the prime time to start building success yielding habits.  It gets a whole lot harder the older you get.

You should always be aware of what habits you are filling your time with and how they will affect your future.  What new habits can you start (or stop) that could possibly change the trajectory of your life?  To learn more about how habit building works, check out “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg.

Final Thoughts

As with everything, self-management is a process.  I know that I’ve given you a LOT of information to digest, but don’t let it overwhelm you.  Overwhelm is an excuse to choose distractions.  You won’t change your life overnight.  Cultivate a habit of self-management. Start with scheduling your priorities.

Remember that you hold the ruler.  Stop worrying about how your life measures up to someone else’s false illusion on social media.  Instead, how does it measure up to your vision of the best version of yourself?

Great external change begins with great internal change.  Every day find a way to be better than you were yesterday.

You can do this!

Trust the process.

Leave me a comment below about what success yielding habit you are going to start today!

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