“If you want something done, ask a busy person.”
– Benjamin Franklin.
As a busy woman, people often ask how I find time to get things done. As a director of three companies, a wife, and a mother of three young children, I find that – like most things – it’s mastering the art of several things that can lead to “getting stuff done”.
So without further ado, here are my Top 8 Tips:
- Set your goals. For me, I ALWAYS have a list of goals that I am working towards. I’m continually thinking of my daily, weekly, monthly and yearly (and beyond) goals. I always have a purpose and I’m always setting a “To Do” list in priority order. This keeps me focused on getting the important stuff done and also conquering daily milestones that are important to completing a greater/long-term goal.
- Planning is the key. I spend just about 99% of my time planning, and 1% doing. Okay, so that is an exaggeration, but the point is: I spend a lot of time planning. My favourite quote is by Winston Churchill: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. In business (and in life) I have certainly learned this the hard way. I also find that if I don’t have a plan, then I spend my days being “reactive” instead of “pro-active” and I allow for others to dictate how I spend my day. If this carries on for too many days in a row, there tends to be a snowball effect of not “getting stuff done”. This leaves me feeling drained, stressed and overwhelmed. To avoid this, I ensure that I start the day off outlining how I want to spend my day. As per Tip #1, I set weekly, monthly, and annual targets that I review regularly to make sure that I’m on track. Remember, the quickest way to get where you are going is to have a road map (or Google Maps, for you millennials).
- You are nothing without your health. Unfortunately it has taken me a while to accept that I’m not a robot and that I need to eat, sleep and exercise (how annoying!). As a business owner, I have worked some crazy hours. I’ve clocked as much as 120 hours in just one week. I would work 18-20 hour days and then go home to shower, have a quick nap, and then repeat. Having a desk job, I was predominantly sedentary throughout the day, living off high energy foods to compensate for my lack of sleep, suffering from dry eyes (due to limited blinking when using computers), diminishing eyesight, and several joint and muscle issues from sitting all day. Looking after my health was my last priority. My thought pattern has now done a 180 degree turn. I now know that it needs to be a priority and that without your health, you have nothing. As a young 20-something-year-old, I just thought I was indestructible. Unfortunately, I have had to spend a lot of time and money on my health to undo all the damage caused by exhausting myself physically and mentally. Moral of the story: Health is and should be a priority. Optimal health leads to greater energy, less down time, and increased ability to “get stuff done”.
- Focus. In this day and age there are so many distractions: Social media, YouTube, Googling, text messages, emails…. the list goes on. The key to having an awesome day is to cut out the noise and distractions, allowing you to focus on the task at hand. This kind of leads on to Tip #5…
- Stop multi-tasking. I used to take a lot of pride in multi-tasking. But more and more, I realised that when I multi-tasked, I actually accomplished less. There are many studies to show that multi-tasking can actually diminish your mental performance. I now try to “chunk” my time and allocate blocks for each activity. This gives me so much more clarity.
- Get the hardest things out of the way first. The number of times I would start the day saying “I have to get [really important task] done – no matter what”. Then I find I get to the end of my day and I have completed everything BUT that one thing. Does this happen to you? Procrastination is the biggest thief of time! In the famous words of Nike, “Just Do It”. Capitalise on your willpower and self-control muscles being in peak state in the morning, and take care of the hardest things first. This will become a habit soon enough and you will feel so much more accomplished.
- Improve your typing speed. I recently read an article that stated that you can save 21 days a year by improving your typing speed by 20%. *Insert shocked face*. How crazy is that? I assume that this tip may not apply to everyone, but for me, this is a biggie. My typing speed is about 90-100 words a minute and my keystrokes on the numeric keypad are higher again. This means that I could have typed this blog in 10 minutes (I haven’t…. but I could have.)
- Multiply it out. The Hannans team members know that I love annualising everything when it comes to time and money. I find that when you do this, you really start to understand how even 30 minutes a day can really add up over a year (it adds to 11.38 days, allowing for 8 hours of sleep per day). So if you can find an extra 30 minutes each day by cutting back things like TV and social media time, as an example, you can find time for that holiday, that exercise, or that hobby that you never have time for. This phenomenon can also work in your favour. For instance, spending 30 minutes a day exercising could help you lose just over 9kg in a year (assuming your eating is on track, of course). Jeff Olsen’s book “The Slight Edge” perfectly sums up how our slight changes and bite-size activities can really amount to a lot over a long period of time.
So these are my Top 8 Tips for getting things done. Hopefully this has given you some good food for thought on getting the most of out of your day.