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16 Things Successful People Do to Maximize Their Time

16 Things Successful People Do to Maximize Their Time

The truth is, 95 percent of the things we do in our lives can and should be done either by someone else or by automation tools. Successful people focus on the five percent of things only they can do: they optimize their time so that they spend most of it doing  the things they do better than anyone else in the world. They don’t try to do it all. They know this only leads to disaster.

Most importantly, they’ve defined success for themselves. They aren’t trying to measure up to some cultural or societal standards of success. They don’t care what other people think of them. They live their life on their own terms.

The following are a few key things successful people do to do less and live more.

1. They don’t waste decades of their life off-course.

Most people spend years, sometimes decades of their life on an undesired path. They’ve in-authentically, following cultural and social norms and eventually found themselves in a mid-life identity crisis. Although identity crisis is fundamental to identity achievement, the goal is to get this out of the way sooner rather than later—like, in your 20s and 30s rather than your 50s and 60s.

2. They correct their course quickly.

Airplanes are off course 90 percent of the time. Yet, they almost always arrive at their final destination on time by incessant course corrections throughout the flight. Because they correct themselves so quickly, getting back on course is easy. If they weren’t so intense about their course corrections, they’d be extremely late or never make it.

Likewise, successful people have an internally correcting system. The more narrow and aerodynamic they can get, the less time and energy they spend getting where they want to go.

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3. They remove non-essential garbage from their lives.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

 — Leonardo De Vinci

Successful people live minimally. They removed all the non-essential physical, mental, and relational baggage bogging them down. Their lives are built on fundamentals. They avoid excess. They say no to almost everything.

4. They skip non-essential steps most people take.

Most people climb ladders vertically. Successful people switch ladders laterally. Almost all of the United States Presidents spent less time in politics than the average Congressman. The best, and most popular Presidents, spent the least amount of time in politics. Ronald Reagan was an actor. Dwight Eisenhower laterally shifted from the military. Woodrow Wilson bounced over from academia.

Rather than spending decades climbing the tedious ladder with glass ceilings, they simply jumped laterally from a different, non-political ladder. They reached the top by skipping the unnecessary “dues-paying” steps.

5. They focus on results rather than hard work.

The majority of the population still lives under the outdated industrial model. They work 9–5 and are compensated for the amount of time they work. No punching the clock, no dollars earned. However, successful people focus on the few things that generate the most results. Everything else is either automated, outsourced, or removed. Rather than getting paid for time, they are compensated for the value they produce.

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“You could do most of what Richard and Steve do, perhaps better than they do it. Except for what they do for about five minutes a day. In those five minutes a day, they create billions of dollars’ worth of value. And most of us could not do what they do in those five minutes.”

 — Seth Godin

6. They use automation tools.

We all do certain 30–60 second tasks multiple times every day. Successful people automate these tasks. There are endless automation tools you could use to remove the doing from your life to create more space for living. One example is Zapier, which is an app that makes automations between multiple web services. Essentially, if something happens at one place, something else happens at another. If someone buys something from you on PayPal, they are automatically put in a customer file. If someone important emails you, it’s sent to a place where you’ll see it.

7. They outsource tasks.

After optimization and automation, the rest gets outsourced. Like automation tools, there are limitless outsourcing options. Fancy Hands is a team of over 3,000 virtual assistants who are available 24 hours a day. The service starts at $25 dollars per month. Fiverr is another outsourcing tool where you pay $5 to get various tasks done like editing your blog posts or transcribing your audios.

8. They create automated income streams.

Successful people have established their life on their own terms. They are not governed by the clock. They consciously choose how they spend every minute. That’s because they’ve created automated streams of income.

There are several approaches you can take to doing this. Some take longer than others. You could build a large real estate investment portfolio. This may take a few years. Or, you could create online courses using tools like Aweber or Infusionsoft. You can even automate the marketing using Facebook Ads.

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9. They set short timelines.

“How can you achieve your 10 year plan in the next 6 months?”

­ — Peter Thiel

According to Parkinson’s Law, work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. If you have a lot of time, you’ll be inefficient. If you have a little time, you’ll be intensely productive. Short timelines facilitate flow, which is optimal human functioning.

10. Get 7+ hours of healthy sleep daily.

Healthy sleep is essential for increased productivity and optimizing your life. Successful people ensure they get good sleep. They keep their room around 68 degrees and avoid eating too close to bedtime. They go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Most wake up between 4:30 and 6:00 a.m.

11. They have a killer morning routine.

Successful people have a bomb morning routine. They practice prayer and meditation to orient themselves toward the positive and abundance in life. They exercise and get their blood flowing. They eat a healthy breakfast, focusing on proteins and good fats. They take cold showers. They listen to or read content that instructs and inspires them. They review their life vision to get perspective on their day. And they do the most undesired task first, knowing if they don’t, it won’t get done.

Most of the time, this routine is complete by 8 a.m. and they’ve already completed the most important things they will do that day. They’ve put themselves in a position to succeed at their highest level the rest of the day. To be fully present and not bogged down by the urgent and unimportant.

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12. They have a small to-do list each day.

Successful people do not have big to-do lists like most people. On most days, there is only 1–5 things that really need to get done. They usually have these things done before noon and have the rest of the day to attend to urgent and life stuff that naturally pops up.

13. They drop stuff that isn’t working.

Most people fail to understand what psychologists call the sunk cost fallacy. When people put resources into something, even if it’s a sinking ship, they stay in longer than they should. Sometimes to the death. Successful people, on the other hand, discern quickly when they are on a dead-end path. Even if they’ve put lots of resources into something, they see quitting as a win, not a loss. They move on quickly and don’t overthink the past.

14. They check their email and social media at a few specific times each day.

Most people wake up and immediately check their email and social media. They put themselves in a reactive mental state. Subconsciously, they’ve committed their day to other people’s agendas. Conversely, successful people check their email and social media at specific times each day. They don’t obsess over messages, page views, likes, or other statistics. At most, they check these things only a few times per day.

15. They completely unplug when they finish working.

When they are at work, they’re at work. When they’re home, they’re home. Successful people aren’t afraid to be unreachable. They have one or two key people who keep them in the know if needed. But when they finish their work, they are just as awesome and present with the ones they love. They make time for rejuvenating recreation. They aren’t workaholics.

16. They take mini-retirements often.

Most people take two weeks off per year. Successful people take multiple mini-retirements each year. At least quarterly, they take a one to two week hiatus. Often, they check out for an entire month. They aren’t afraid of taking long-periods of time off. Their lives are far more balanced than most people.

Conclusion

Successful people live their lives fundamentally different from the norm. Rather than being a mediocre generalist, they do a few things only they can do. The rest is automated and outsourced. They do less and live more.

Featured photo credit: vintage-elegance/splitshire via splitshire.com

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Published on January 16, 2019

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

  • Are you a great strategist?
  • Are you an effective planner?
  • Is Project Management your strength?
  • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
  • Are you the ideas person?
  • Is Implementation your strength?

Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

4. Take Time for Planning

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

You can take the time to think about:

  • What’s the purpose of the project?
  • How Important is it?
  • When does it need to be delivered by?
  • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
  • What are the KPIs?
  • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
  • Who is working on this project?
  • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
  • What tolerances can I add in?
  • What are the review stages?
  • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

5. Focus on Priorities

Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

  1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
  2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
  3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
  4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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    The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

    If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

    If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

    6. Take Time Out

    To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

    If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

    Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

    In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

    Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

    7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

    Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

    I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

    Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

    If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

    8. Stop Multitasking

    Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

    So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

    When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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    If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

    9. Work in Blocks of Time

    To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

    I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

    Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

    Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

    Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

    Then take another 10-minute break.

    Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

    By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

    10. Get Rid of Distractions

    Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

    “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

    Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

    If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

    11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

    You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

    Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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    Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

    12. Take a Time Audit

    Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

    Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

    You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

    Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

    Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

    At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

    If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

    13. Protect Your Confidence

    It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

    When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

    Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

    When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

    Final Words

    A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

    The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

    If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

    Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

    Reference

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