There are three things I'm never late for... flights, movies, and spa appointments. This list may give you the idea I'm a person of leisure. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. I'm time-starved by my own choices. When I'm indulgent I don't want to miss a minute of it.

I have punctuality issues. I'm not proud of this character trait. I've tried every "Top 10" tip in every article, book and webinar. It always brings me back to the same conclusion. I am capable of being on time when the priority warrants punctuality. The rest is free game. I'm not inconsiderate. I have respect for others. I have a genuine desire to do things differently.

The cause boils down to two saboteurs. Procrastination and Perfectionism.

Procrastination provides an adrenaline kick like a drug. Once you're in the habit of getting the fix, it's a hard habit to kick. I get a rush from squeezing one more thing in before I walk out the door. Leaving 10 minutes early doesn't provide me the same payoff as scratching that one last item off the to-do list. The reality is there is no payoff. It's more a thief of joy. I frustrate myself. I disappoint others. I arrive in a frenzy promising not to do it again.

If procrastination provides the high - perfectionism is the dealer. The taskmaster telling you no one does things as well as you. The voice telling you the project isn't finished instead of saying sometimes done is better than perfect. The soul (sucking) mate keeping you from choosing how to spend your time.

Traditional time management tools have never worked for me. I set out to find ways I could escape this hostage situation, and so can you. Here are a few tips I found useful:

1. Multi-tasking is not the solution.

It's a trap. You may save time on the front end but you usually have to spend time doing at least one thing over. One simple action that's helped me the most when I want to stay focused is putting my phone in airplane mode. Turning off all notifications. No sounds. No banners. No Facebook alerts. Just me and my task at hand.

2.   Give yourself permission.

I'm convinced you're born with a timing sensor dictating if you're a night owl or a sunny morning person. You can forcibly change your biorhythms using behavioral modification. The real question is: what if you didn't have to change them? Management teams in several innovative companies like Google and Apple have proven when people are given enough freedom to work when they want to work, the work is completed faster and a better product is created. Thriving in this environment is contingent upon discovering how you operate responsibly within these flexible parameters. Start by giving yourself permission to experiment with time management tools until you find the ones that are optimal for you.

3.   Don't be penny wise and dollar foolish

Business owners can easily fall into this trap. It feels cost effective to choose the free app or web template. However, it can be an expensive proposition once you factor in the time trading out to build it for time you could be investing in business development. This equation can be solved by instead giving up that Uber, happy hour or coffee habit and setting those monies aside until you can afford to buy the upgraded version or pay a web developer. Begin by using freelancers or services like Fiverr until you can gather the resources to hire an employee or virtual assistant. Yes, the investment feels overwhelming so spend time on what it is that you started the business for in the first place.

4. Choose Wisely

We all have the same 24 hours. We often take advantage of them and sometimes simply waste them overworking. Recent research shows having more free time is likely more important for happiness than having more money. It seems no matter how many times we get a tough life lesson on this topic our old habits eventually prevail. Make meaningful incremental shifts in your schedule instead of trying to change everything at once. Spend time investing in mentorship or your own relationships. Over time you'll find you'll be willing to work wiser not faster.

About the Author

Traci DeForge, Business Development Strategist, has a proven track record of success in launching new businesses and directing operations for successful businesses throughout North America. Her consulting expertise generates National awards for her clients. She works with leaders and intact teams at companies such as Hilton, Marriott, British Airways and Google. Clients include Microsoft and Weight Watchers International. Traci facilitates workshops and classes in cities all across the country including Stanford University, has been featured on CNN and is a contributor for Inc.com.

Traci recently expanded her entrepreneurial portfolio with the launch of Produce Your
Podcast,
full service company which produces broadcast quality podcasts. Her
passion for creativity shows up by producing and hosting her Journey to There podcast.
The show provides inspiration and tactile tips on how to navigate the intersection between personal and business growth.

Published on: Nov 15, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.