We all live in a life where we can easily be bombarded by all of the not-so-important things and allow our lives to be flooded by things that are outside of our control. Social media, election banter and emails are the first three things that come to mind that can flood our time and lives, and finding control in this world is key to staying successful on what is important.
What is important to you? Spending more time with your spouse and kids? Having more of a scheduled and prepared day? Being able to workout and take care of your health on a daily basis? All of these things should be important to most of us, we just need to learn how to prioritize our lives in a way to make the right choices to conquer our days. Here are 5 keys to create success in life and to take your days back.
Keep the main thing the main thing, or keep the goal the goal
It is important to make sure you know what your #1 top priority for the day is and get that done first, with absolutely no distractions. We all have “to-do” lists and things we never seem to get to, but we need to stay focused on what is most important and do just that ONE thing each day.
Also, if you have set a goal for yourself to reach down the road, make sure you write down daily targets that will get you closer to your goal. An example of this – if you want to lose 10 pounds over an 8 week period, your daily targets may be that you will eat protein at each meal, or drink an extra glass of water before bed and when you wake up. It can be something so simple, but when written down and actually acted upon it becomes very powerful to getting you closer to your goals.
Stop doing time management, start doing priority management
For every task during the day, you should have a priority set for each task, and a time allotted for each task. Think of the highest priority items first, as well as what you can implement or get done the fastest. We all know that checking things off our “to-do” lists can be very motivating, so start with those items that are the highest priority and can be done the fastest and then set a time in your schedule for when you are going to complete the task. This will ensure that you are not checking your email 10 times a day, or looking at social media on the hour every hour. My business coach and mentor, Alwyn Cosgrove calls this strategy “Force Ranking.”
You would start with your primary question or goal of what you want to accomplish, then work backwards from there and start to fill in all the items you need to complete and with what impact and speed each action item brings to the table. Here is an example of what your force ranking system would look like:
Force Ranking – Primary Question? Ask this question first.
|Item- what needs to be completed to help aid in your primary question
|Impact – (1-5)
5 = huge impact
1 = small impact
|Speed – (1-5)
5 = quickly implement
1 = slow to implement
Total score from both columns
The high impact and faster items to implement would be what you would work on first (scores totaling 8-10). For those items that may have a high impact, but be done at a slower speed (scores around 6) like a larger project – make sure to work on these since they have a high impact, but also set a goal completion date. For those items that have a minimal impact and are slow to implement (scores of 2-5) you are probably safe placing these on the back burner for a later date, or reconsidering if you even need to do it.
These are all top priority items that we can get done in the first part of our day, before we need to put any fires out. Make sure to plan your day ahead of time, don’t just “show up.”
Make time, don’t try to find time
We all have the same amount of hours in one day – 24, and the same amount of hours in one week – 168. Let’s make sure we are making time every day for all the important stuff. You can make time by doing the following:
– Write down the most important things to get done the night before, that way it is first on your mind.
– Make your priorities a true priority. If you want to learn more, make the time to read. Place it in your schedule like an appointment. It will get done if it is placed in your schedule.
– Have non-distracted “time blocking.” Make sure to block off certain times of the day where you get particular things done, and try to keep it somewhat the same each day.
– Stop watching TV! The average American watches between 5-7 hours of TV a day! This is in almost all cases a “time waster” and you will lose some powerful hours in your day by being stuck on the couch.
Remember, if it is on your calendar, and you stick to your calendar it WILL get done.
Extend the game
Adding to point #3, if you can make time you will be successful. Start to plan your day around your mornings- this is where it has been proven time and time again where you can get the most work done, before any distractions come into play for the day. If you can set your bedtime for 1 hour earlier and your alarm for an hour earlier, you won’t lose any more sleep and you will extend your mornings by one hour to get some of the most important things done while your brain is the most active!
Simplify, simplify, simplify.
There is no reason at all to make things any harder or more complicated in life than they already are. Success lies in keeping it simple and making sure you are relentless in making things easier on yourself. A few quick and easy suggestions to do this:
– Use bullet points and lists daily. Having something as simple as a standard pre-written weekly grocery list can make your time at the grocery store so much shorter and keep you from buying those not-so-healthy items.
– Prepare ahead of time. This will almost always simplify anything you do in life. Unpreparedness leads to making things more complicated and sophisticated.
– Shark habits – think one bite and it’s done! This has become well known by Dan John, who has been famous for saying, “I will always reply to your email.” And he does, no matter how many thousands of emails he gets each day, he opens it and takes appropriate action right away. When opening an email, reply or delete. When brushing your teeth, make sure to floss. When setting up appointments, set reminders right then and there. Shark habits keep the simple things very simple, instead of out of our control.
A great quote to end with comes from Kevin Eastman, former Los Angeles Clippers Vice President of Basketball Operations. “Success lies in the simplicity, and confusion lies in sophistication.”
Don’t forget how valuable your time is in your life. It is the only non-sustainable resource that we actually have more control over than we ever imagined!
Seize the day!