Time. We all have the same 24 hours each day and the same 365 days in a year. So, why do some get more done and move their careers or businesses further along in a year than others? What are they doing that others aren’t?
The answer lies partly in the ability (or inability) to focus on the right things and make the most of every minute. How we view and choose to use our time makes all the difference when it comes to either being highly productive and hitting your goals or feeling like you’re constantly struggling to keep your head above water and drifting in a sea of elusive dreams.
If you find yourself struggling and not reaching goals, the first thing you need to ask yourself is, “What is my mindset regarding time?”
Do you think of even small blocks of time as opportunities to accomplish something or do you have limiting thoughts and behaviors?
For example, if you were given 30 minutes to tackle whatever you thought you could, how would you respond? Would you dismiss that 30 minutes as not enough time to really accomplish anything and pass that time on social media, or would you quickly choose a task on your to-do list and jump in with the determination to make the most of it? Your answer to that question makes a difference in terms of productivity and moving toward your bigger goals.
Changing your mindset is possible. It starts with an awareness of “why” you hold the beliefs you do about time, outlining what you need (or want) to change, then making the conscious, deliberate adjustments to your thinking and behavior.
The other question you need to ask yourself is, “What am I really doing with my time? Am I focusing and utilizing my time on the right things?”
Making the most of your time isn’t about constantly being busy, it’s about knowing which tasks have the greatest impact on moving you or your business forward and which tasks don’t. For the sake of efficiency, productivity and success, the tasks that will have a positive impact on getting you to your goals are the ones you should focus your time on.
Having a well-thought-out goal and a plan is key in this! You need to know what you REALLY want to achieve, what you’re currently doing that might be helping or hurting your chance for success, and what you need to do differently. When you have a clear vision of what your goal is and how you’re going to get there, those right things also become clear. What might have once been seen as 10 minutes to fritter away on social media becomes 10 minutes to make that call, reach out via email to a new client, make a list of smaller goals for the coming week, or start brainstorming a new process that might make your business function more efficiently.
One final question I would encourage you to ask yourself is, “What (or who) am I allowing to dictate how my time is spent?”
There was a time when my life felt out of control. I was pulled in many different directions daily, plagued by distractions and overwhelmed by activities that left me feeling like I was just spinning my wheels. And I had a hard time saying no, even when I knew I should. I just couldn’t get a handle on why this was happening… or how to fix it. I remember expressing this to a dear friend, colleague and fellow entrepreneur one day, years ago, when he gave me a solid piece of advice that has stuck with me since. He said, “Cathy, the only person who can control your schedule is you.” He couldn’t have been more right. It was like a lightbulb went on. I needed to take control of my time. I needed to figure out what I valued in my life and my business and manage my schedule accordingly.
We all have different circumstances, demands on our time and choices to make, but ultimately how we use our time is on us. If I choose to fill my days with meetings and activities that merely eat up time, my chances of reaching my goals are slim – and my frustration level goes up. But if I choose to take ownership of how my time is spent, I will not only increase my chances of successfully reaching my goals, I make sure that the people and things that truly matter to me get the time they deserve.
As human beings, there’s always room for improvement. And a new year is a great time to reflect on what we could be doing better to move toward the life we want to create for ourselves. When we consciously seek to understand “what” we’re doing and what we could be doing differently, it changes the game. ( Here’s a worksheet you can use to help you sort through your “whats”. )
In 2017, we all get the same 365 days, 8,760 hours or 525,600 minutes. That’s a lot of precious time for work, play and rest! If you’re going to make a resolution to do something differently in the new year, why not resolve to gain a better understanding of how you view and use your time. Consider what you value, set your goals, get focused, and make the most of all the precious time 2017 has to offer!
Happy New Year!