“Why does time go so slowly?” This was the question that my ten-year-old son was asking me, the interesting thing is he was absolutely serious. It made me realise at some stage we go from being children that wished time would go quicker so we can celebrate an event or reach a milestone to being someone who just wished time would slow down so we can get everything done.
People are busier than they have ever been before and most of the time are achieving less. This results in feelings of overwhelm and stress. When this happens people lose focus on what is really important.
Here are five simple strategies to getting more done with less stress:
1) Slow down to speed up. Growing up I remember my mother always saying “less haste, more speed”. When we act in haste we don’t have time to think about what we are doing and we either end up doing a bad job that needs to be re-done, or we end up doing the wrong tasks at the wrong time. Take a couple of minutes and write down absolutely everything you need to do. Everything. Get it out of your head. The challenge is when you have everything in your head it’s a bit like a washing machine, you keep rethinking all of the things you have to do and so it is easy to go into overwhelm. Get it out of your head onto something you can see.
2) Prioritise what you need to achieve. Ask yourself - what is the one thing that if you achieved that today, would make the biggest difference? Then prioritise the other things that need to be achieved that day or possibly that week.
3) Schedule time. Set aside at least one session of 90 minutes of uninterrupted time to just focus and work on just the one thing that will make the biggest difference. Turn of your e-mail, turn your phone onto silent and put it outside the room, let everyone know that you cannot be disturbed, close your door and then put your head down and just focus on this one thing. If you are thinking that you couldn’t possibly do that, I will challenge you! There are times each year, if not each month, if not each week, that you are able to take 90 minutes to yourself. Think about when you go to a doctor’s appointment, a dentist appointment or the last time you were on an aeroplane. Did the world end, no! Get your diary out now and schedule some time. Personally I find one of the best times for me to work on my most important tasks is early in the morning, when no one else is around.
4) Do not let your mouth overburden your back. When you know what it is that you need to achieve, beware of letting your mouth overburden your back. Learn to say no. It’s amazing how when people are busy they tend to say yes quicker and easier than someone who isn’t so busy. We have all hear of the saying, “if you want something done, give it to a busy person.” Are you that busy person? And by saying yes you are not getting to the most important things that are going to make the biggest difference? I have found two techniques that are very useful. When someone asks you if you can do something or if you are interested in doing something is to say, “thank you for thinking of me, however at this stage I cannot do that, should anything change I will let you know”. Now this is a rather direct approach and may not work well for everyone so the second method, even though it is not quite as efficient still works well. Thank the person for thinking of you, let them know you will just need to check your diary and then you can get back to them. This gives you time to asses if what they are asking you to do or are offering you, fits in with what you are trying to achieve and if not you can politely decline.
5) Acknowledge and celebrate your achievements. At the end of each day, reflect on what you have achieved. Three great questions to ask yourself at the end of the day are; what did I achieve? What did I do well? What could I have done better? Celebrate your progress and reward yourself when your complete projects or achieve what you set out to achieve. Think about how you can celebrate certain milestones, it may be going out for dinner, enjoying a bottle of your favourite drink or just a peaceful walk in nature.
I know that sometime in the future, hopefully later than sooner, my son is going to feel there just isn’t enough time to get everything done. He is going to be grown up and have places to go, people to see and goals to achieve. Until then I know that I need to continue to follow these eight strategies so I have the time to be a good father to my children.
Embrace these steps and focus on doing less so you can achieve more. When you start to feel that you are making progress and achieve results, you feel better about yourself, you feel better about others and life starts to feel great.
Life is a journey, enjoy the ride!