12 Steps to Vanquish Your Time Vampires
Part II of the Time Management Series
Now that you’ve identified the time-vampires in your life, you can now work on finding more time in your day. Once you let go of time wasters and focus on being productive without over scheduling, you’re going to meet your life goals faster than you think.
1. Check Your Attitude
If you don’t believe you have control over your own time and that you can eliminate time wasters, gain more time, and get more done, quite simply – you won’t. When it comes to time, it can be challenging to develop an abundance mindset. Not only can you eliminate time wasters, but with smart delegation, you can buy more time.
2. Go to Bed and Get Up and the Same Time Each Day
It might seem counterproductive when you want more time, but by going to bed on time and sleeping 7 to 9 hours a night, avoiding over or under sleeping, you will create a situation where your mind and body get used to functioning at the time you need it.
Going to bed and rising at the same time every day is going to give you more energy. You’ll be more productive after a good night’s sleep. When your mind is clear and not sleepy, you can do more, better, and faster.
And finally, it gives you the same amount of time each day to be super productive.
Take the time to take a few deep breaths. In through your nose on a count of four, slowly – now hold it in, count to four, and then slowly let the air out of your mouth on a count of four.
Practicing this breathing technique for 5 minutes is a great way to center yourself before starting your day.
Take one or two deep breaths before each task to calm you and set your focus.
4. Organize Tasks by Priorities
The 34th president of the United States came up with a method to figure out what’s important to do and what can wait. It’s called the Time Management Matrix and, over time, has become the Time Quadrant and made more famous by Stephen R. Covey, who wrote the book: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Essentially, you need to organize tasks in one of four quadrants to determine how you should schedule it.
Quadrant 1: Important and Urgent – This includes crises, projects with deadlines, and pressing problems.
Quadrant 2: Important and Non-Urgent – This includes building good relationships, new opportunities, and recreation.
Quadrant 3: Not Important and Urgent – These include issues like emails, phone calls, meetings, interruptions, and especially things happening now when you’re trying to do something else.
Quadrant 4: Not Important and Non-Urgent – These types of tasks are often called busy work and can include calls, emails, fun games, water cooler chats, and are usually time wasters.
5. Schedule Everything Realistically
Once you have an exact list of things you need to do, learn to schedule everything realistically with deadlines. Batch all tasks or errands, and use your time wisely.
Are you running errands? Combine efforts to ensure you don’t spend too much time in the car. If your dry cleaner is near the market, drop off your dry cleaning before picking up groceries. You’re going to pass it anyway, so don’t make a second, time wasteful trip.
Don’t schedule time wasters and always add high-value tasks over low-value tasks. High-value tasks move you closer to your goals. Low-value tasks do nothing to advance your goals and can even take you backward.
6. Delegate More
Delegate jobs when you can. In some cases, you can delegate household tasks to family members according to their age.
For many of your business tasks, you’ll want to hire someone. A virtual assistant can easily assume the low-value but necessary tasks that take up so much of your time.
Spending money is often a roadblock when it comes to delegating. However, it can be seen as a money-saver, particularly if it’s eliminating your time vampires and helping you stay on track. For example, ordering groceries for delivery might have an additional charge. Still, the fact that it eliminates a couple of hours of work, plus the possibility of picking up junk that interferes with your goal of eating healthy, is a win-win.
7. Plan Your Day the Night Before
8. Cross Things Off Your Schedule
Each night at a specified time, set aside 10 minutes to plan tomorrow’s tasks. Look at your master schedule to quickly see what you need to do at a glance, and then organize it in order of importance. Do the most important tasks first.
This is also an excellent time to review your day. What did you get accomplished, what needs a follow-up, and what tasks didn’t you have time to do.
As you accomplish your tasks on any given day, make sure you take the time to cross them off your list. This will provide you with another look at your schedule and calendar, so you don’t forget anything, plus it feels good to check something off the list.
I have a whiteboard calendar, and I use small post-it notes to keep my month on track. My daughter saw this and immediately adopted her own version. She says it is very satisfying to take that sticky note off, crush it in her hand and toss in the garbage when she completes a task.
My point here is, the more you focus on feelings of accomplishment, the more motivated you’ll be to keep going.
9. Use Gap Time
No matter what you do, you’re going to find that you have some gap times in your day. You’ll be waiting in lines, waiting for your doctor, commuting, waiting to pick up your kids, waiting while they’re at practice, and so forth. Sometimes you know when you’re likely going to have to wait on something, but sometimes it’s going to be a surprise.
Keep something with you that enables you to be productive during gap times. If you knit, bring your knitting; if you read, bring a book. If you are a writer, you can bring your laptop. It’s up to you what you do during gap times, but it’s an excellent time to be productive, and it’s also a perfect time to read for pleasure. It depends on your goals what you choose to do during your gap times.
10. Let Go of Guilt
One problem people often experience when they try to get rid of time-vampires is guilt. No one wants to explain to their mother why they cannot talk for an hour every day at 3 pm. However, know that guilt is a wasted emotion. Choose to do things or not do something and just let go of the blame.
11. Arrive Early
One other way to get more time in your day is to arrive at every appointment you have 15 minutes early. That might add gap time to wait, but you have a plan for that. More than likely, it’s going to ensure that you are on time, not rushed, and due to that keep, your mind functioning at a high level.
12. Be Done When You're Done
One thing about being productive and managing your time better is that it is crucial to accept that perfectionism and procrastination are roadblocks that waste time. It’s okay if the towels are not folded the way you want them as long as the folding gets done.
It’s okay if someone formatted the report slightly different from how you’d have done it if it’s what the client wants. It’s okay that dinner was delivered tonight instead of made from scratch. It’s okay to stop tweaking something when it no longer changes the substance. Let go and accept being done, and you’ll discover so much more time in your day.
For most people, the first step toward eliminating time vampires is identifying and acknowledging them and then working toward replacing them with planning, goal setting, and decisive action. TV, internet, games, email, social media, and so forth can be substantial time-vampires, but that doesn’t mean you should never participate in those fun things. Of course, you should. However, when you are doing it, do it with purpose. Know how long you’re going to spend and make it a fun event and not something you do out of habit.
If you find that you are procrastinating on doing anything, you have to dig deep into the why of it. Organize things better, set a deadline, cut out all distractions, and get the thing done as quickly as possible. The ball is in your court.
Next week I'll show you how to improve your focus and productivity so you can manage your time better.
If you have any comments or questions, please post them below or on our Facebook page. Have a wonderfully productive week!