People often ask me, amazed, how I manage to do so many things. Aside from writing two columns every week, I speak regularly, travel, create videos, manage my business, write books, consult with five companies, network, socialize, cycle, run, read, cook, sleep six to seven hours a night and have dates with my wife. Oh yeah, I watch a lot of television while hanging out with my dog as well.
Okay, I know it sounds ridiculous. But accomplishing my preferred future requires this level of activity. I have the same 24 hours in a day that you do, but I have made specific choices that allow me to make the most of every day, and still feel happy and relaxed. Perhaps these tips will help you make the most of your time as well.
1. Pick Your Priorities
Make choices about the activities in your life. With most endeavors, you can either go deep or go wide. Focus on spending time that for you is fun and productive. If you like big families, have them, but recognize up front that kids require time and you'll have to choose a lifestyle that supports quality time with them, for you to feel satisfied. I chose the life of a consultant because I like to work with companies, but don't want the life of a big company CEO. My choices are based on the lifestyle I want.
2. Go For Efficiency
You don't do everything well. The things you do well usually give you greater joy and require less time. Don't take on something with a steep learning curve if you don't have the available bandwidth. Design your life to meet your wants, and recognize when to say no to opportunities that are outside the scope of your desires. Live your life by design, not default.
3. Integrate Your Activities
Many people go crazy trying to figure out how to spend time with friends, family, work, play, etc. Stop trying to balance time between them all. Find ways to enjoy them in a combined manner. Build your social life around people in your work environment. Find people in your company who share common interests and develop your career around the people and activities you love. If everything is out of synch to the point where you feel pulled and stressed, a change is likely imminent one way or another.
4. Actively Manage Time-wasters
Social media, family, friends, employees, co-workers and general whiners all under certain circumstances can suck precious time from you if you let them. Budget your time for necessary activities. Make a choice to limit non-supportive interactions that don't energize you. As for social media, it can easily be a black hole for time and productivity. Use it appropriately and sparingly as a tool to support your endeavors and social needs, but lay off the Farmville.
5. Be an Active Learner
You would think learning takes more time from you, but actually there are always new tools and new ways of doing things that can save you time on mundane tasks freeing you up for your priorities. Always be looking for a new way to gain back an hour here or there. Just try it and dump it quick if it starts to drag on.
6. Lighten Up
No need to beat yourself up if you can't do all the things you want because you are handling other stuff that needs attention. It happens. The world won't come to an end in most cases just because you left a few things undone. Celebrate progress and keep refining toward a happy productive existence. This is why making lists and crossing off items is a staple in any productivity handbook. Every completion is a small victory that adds up in a big way.