What do you do if you simply don’t have enough time to do everything you’ve got to do? You may be trying to hold down a job, raise a family, workout regularly, volunteer. Whatever your list of commitments, most of us have too many roles and responsibilities. When it gets too much I have been known to respond by freaking out, by stressing out, or by going out. But as Productivity Guru David Allen said
“You can do anything but not everything”
This has to be one of my favorite quotes, I like to believe I anything is possible but I need to be regularly reminded I can’t do everything.
So what do you do when you finally accept the fact that you are not omnipotent?
You could cry, or have a tantrum. I haven’t tried that in a while or you could go back to the basics. Here are ten terrific tactics for creating time when there just isn’t enough of it.
1. Write it down
The best starting place is to write it down; you have to get it out of your head and onto paper or virtual paper. The mind is not a place for storing tasks and projects, especially not if your goal is Zen like simplicity. Do a mind dump, write down everything you need to do and want to do. These coming weeks are very busy for me. I’m trying to finalize a lot of work before I go on two weeks holidays to South Africa. I worked until late last night and on my way to bed I realized I wasn’t going to sleep with so many things racing around in my head. Too tired to do any more work I took my notebook to bed and made a list of everything that I still have to do. I slept like a baby. I slept soundly secure in the knowledge that I had a starting point from which to work from.
2. Break it down
Break it down into two groups, stuff that has to be done on a particular date or time, like a meeting or an appointment and stuff that has to be done but has not time element associated with it. It goes without saying the former should go into your calendar and the latter can go into a task manager program such as Wunderlist or Remember the Milk
Eliminate everything that is not essential. What can you cancel or postpone to another time? If you have too many meetings scheduled consider rearranging. If you have too much work can you give it away to someone else? What tasks do you do that add no value to your final outcomes? Stop doing them. Use the Pareto Principle to help you decide what can be eliminated and what needs to stay.
4. Assert yourself
Often we take on too much because we are incapable of saying no at the right time. We feel sorry for someone, we feel guilt obligation or both. Always remember that someone or something will suffer if you take on too much. This school term I took on the job of Green Schools Coordinator. It’s an administrative position helping my children’s school become more environmentally friendly by achieving awards (in the form of flags) for each theme in the programme such as Water, Waste, and Energy etc. I then by default became secretary of the Parents association, Why? Because everybody else said no and there was nobody to do the job. So I said yes! It’s not so bad but I should have said no because I’m stretching my time thinly.
5. Check your Goals
Do a recap of your vision and goals for the year. Are the tasks you have planned going to get you closer to your goals? Be sure that everything you do is a step closer to achieving your goals. Being clear about your motivations is more likely to keep you on the right path and not see you side-tracked down an attractive alley with flashing lights.
6. Call in the Cavalry
Don’t be afraid to ask for help, if you have too much to do either at home or at work, speak up and get help. Taking on too much can cause suffering, apart from the obvious personal suffering the task is at risk of suffering too. Only do what only you can do.
7. Take a break
It may appear counter intuitive when you have too much to do but taking a break can increase your productivity rather than hinder it. When people tire productivity suffers. A fresh look and a new perspective can benefit all involved.
8. Sleep when you need to
You won’t believe this but I just feel asleep at my desk, really I did It’s only 22:20 but the heavy workload has been taking its toll. With my head rested in my hand I nodded off. The less sleep you get the less efficient you become. The mind becomes foggy you can’t think straight. I have had a bit of a fallow period creatively over the past 10 days (you may have noticed a lack of posts) I could say I didn’t have the time to write because I have been very busy but that’s not entirely true as I always find time for writing. The truth is when I did sit down to write nothing was coming. I would be inspired by a quotation or an action and think great that will make a great article but then when I sat down to write a very poor first paragraph would appears but it’s stubborn cousin second paragraph was reluctant to show up. Rest is so important to be able to perform at your best.
9. Be Present
Don’t waste time worrying and thinking about all that has to be done. Once you have it written down and captured in the right place, you need no longer waste brain power on thinking about the work that still must be done. Be present, stay mindful in all situations, be where you are. Train your thoughts to focus on the moment you are experiencing and not to think of future or past events.
10. Smile and Breathe
Life is too short to waste precious moments stressing or worrying about events that have not yet happened. Do what you can do and let go. So now that I have done what I can do for tonight I am going to let go and lay my head down to rest.
Buenas noches amigos