Three Keys to Maximizing Your Time

 Photo: Creative Commons,  Flickr User ThiagoA.

Photo: Creative Commons, Flickr User ThiagoA.

There are only so many hours in a day. Every single person, no matter how busy (or not) they seem, works with the same set twenty-four hours in a day. Yet we're all increasingly scrambling for time and trying to make more with what we have. We use technology to speed up our processes and, hopefully, multiply the impact of our hours a little bit. But try as we might, we're all working with the same fleeting asset. We can't make more time, but it can be maximized. How? Here are three keys...

1. Make some lists.

It sounds simple, but for many over-busy people, it's incredibly difficult. Start by making some simple lists. Think of your life overall. What's most important to you? List that out. Think about your ideal week? Make a list of what will make you feel like a success at the end of the week? Think about your ideal day? What needs to be accomplished to call it a win? If you jump into your day and just get tackled by the urgent, you'll never make it a priority to accomplish the most important. If you don't take time to prioritize what's most important in your life, you'll get taken on a ride by the busyness of your day-to-day life. Make some lists so you know what you're striving for.

2. Work in your sweet spot.

We all have a sweet spot. Some of us fire on all cylinders in the evenings. Others need to get going first thing in the morning. Some work great in an open environment like the local coffee shop. Others need the peace and quiet of a closed-door room. When you're working outside of your sweet spot, your productivity takes a nose-dive, your effectiveness is cramped, and your efficiency is crushed. Work in your sweet spot to increase your effectiveness and efficiency and get more done quicker, thus maximizing your time.

3. Quit something.

Chances are that there are a couple things you could quit. Reflect back on your lists and think about what it is you're doing that's not on your priority list. See what you can quit and do so. Consider how much time you spent working out of your sweet spot. Change your situation up to get back into that sweet spot. Maybe there are even little tasks or responsibilities that you're doing right now that you could effectively pay somebody else to do for you. Ask yourself what only you can do and start doing that.

You are made for a reason. You have priorities and you know how you're wired for a reason. It's time to maximize your time to land where your biggest and most important impact lies. 

Okay...now, let's be honest...most of us are so busy that we're not even going to have time to make a list or figure out what our sweet spot is. Do one thing this week to figure that out. Just one thing. Make an appointment with yourself for an hour and use that time to work through the list-building. If you get a lunch hour to yourself, use a lunch hour this week for that kind of thinking. Just one day, set your alarm and hour early or pour yourself that late-in-the-day cup of coffee to stay up late. It's not forever, but make one move this week to start processing through these steps. The sooner you make a move, the sooner you'll change, and the sooner you'll be on the road to maximizing your time.