I hate feeling like time is slipping by. When I catch myself thinking, “wow, is September over already?” then I know I need to get on top of things.
The question is: how, exactly?
For me, the answer is simple: make a roadmap.
Charting Out Where You Want To Go
Constantly living in a reactionary state is draining. When you start each day with resignation, with a dread of what may come, that’s a terrible way to approach life.
Not only does it wear on you mentally, it burns you out emotionally as well.
Many people spend their workdays “putting out fires.” If you are constantly reacting to problems, addressing issues that come up, and trying to deliver things yesterday, then it’s no wonder you feel burned out!
Have you ever gone to the grocery store without making a list? Chances are you bought more than you needed, and spent more than you intended. And of course, you always forget that one thing.
Except when you make a list, that is.
Why not make a “list” for your day/week/month/year?
In order to get somewhere, you have to know where you want to go. If you haven’t set goals for yourself, go read the post about the difference between being productive and being busy. Come back when you’re done.
A goal is simply something that you want to accomplish. There are little goals, big goals, short term goals, and long term goals.
You should have goals in every category.
Start With The Daily Grind
If you ever want to accomplish long-term goals, you first have to get a handle on your day-to-day activities.
You can start by protecting your time, and being intentional about how you spend the time you’ve allocated.
Block off some time each day for answering emails. Maybe that’s two hours in the morning. Maybe it’s an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon. You may have heard this advice before, and that’s because it works. The trick is to NOT let other tasks encroach on your time blocks.
If you are answering email, close your door and don’t talk to anyone. If you are writing a report, turn off your email notifications. Focus is a powerful thing, and you’ll find you can accomplish a lot more when you aren’t multi-tasking.
Try to identify the worst culprits that steal your time each day. Is it a particular co-worker that likes to chat? Is it a manager that calls too many pointless meetings? Make an effort to avoid the things/people that steal your time.
Add Purpose To All Parts Of Your Day
When you infuse purpose into your day, life ceases to be a defined by the grind. Your day becomes a series of tasks that you tackle for a reason.
There’s a reason most success coaches and CEOs and entrepreneurs emphasize the importance of a morning routine. It gives you a reason to wake up in the morning, it reminds you what you are working for, and energizes you for the day ahead. Who doesn’t want that?
Part of what gives purpose to your day is having a goal that is bigger than today. If every day is a brick, your wall will get built over time. Having something to work toward is imperative to combat the drudgery of daily tasks.
If you need to, set an alarm for when you want to start getting ready for bed. Wrap up screen time in advance of getting into bed to give your eyes a chance to relax. Create a routine to help you wind down so you can fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow.
From the time you get up until you go to bed, purpose is what drives a life of accomplishment. People who are successful know where they want to go, and they do the work it takes to get there.
Look Into The Future
If you keep doing the same thing, day in and day out, nothing is going to change.
When you look at the future — six months or a year from now — do you like what you see? What do you want to change? What is your motivation for making that change?
Maybe just thinking about it is overwhelming. Of course things can go wrong. And I’m not saying you should throw away everything on a whim, either. But I am saying that the sooner you start laying bricks, even if it’s just one a day, the sooner your wall will be tall and strong.
So here’s what I want you to do:
- Think about what robs you of your time each day. Make a list, and brainstorm some ways to get that time back.
- Before you go to sleep, make a list of things you want to accomplish the next day. If it helps, choose one or two items as “must do” for tomorrow.
- Stop snoozing your alarm. Pick a time to wake up that allows you to approach the day on your terms (instead of rushing out the door in a frazzled hurry).
- Once you’ve gotten a handle on the first three items, write down some bigger and longer-term goals. Set a reminder to review these goals once a week.
Doing those four things will allow you to shift from reaction to response.
Don’t let time pass you by. You have one life to live — what are you going to make of it?