Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff that life is made of. – Benjamin Franklin
One of the most important questions we must ask ourselves is: “Am I truly happy with how I spend my work hours?”
If not, what is it that you’re striving towards that would make you satisfied? What is your big goal?
To take the next step in your career, you must define what it is you really want to achieve in your career. Are you really any closer to achieving your goals now than you were a week ago?
Most people’s big goal is to reach a higher level of income, others would prefer more time and a better work life balance. But despite us all wanting to make progress, somehow we always seem to fall short.
Why is this?
The harsh truth is that your plans are too vague and you have no roadmap.
You don’t appreciate the importance of time management. You don’t monitor and measure your progress step by step. You barely even know if you’re on course or off course.
You find yourself tired and “working” too many hours because you waste your day procrastinating on useless things such as:
- Checking Facebook and other social media feeds
- Drinking coffee and chatting with “friends” when you’re supposed to be working.
- Talking about mindless TV programs or other useless entertainment.
- Checking sports and fantasy football news and updates.
- Allowing your mind to drift onto personal issues (family, money, the weekend, etc…)
- Wasting time trying to keep up to date on Yahoo and Fox news. This is completely detrimental because mainstream media is designed to flood you with bad news that has very little to do with how the world really works.
- Checking email 30 times a day and jumping through hoops to respond to inessential requests.
- Scanning through blogs. Most of the content on the internet is contradictory fluff that’s best left ignored.
- Texting friends or family
- Messing around with Apps on your phone
Will these useless activities get you the progress you need to be where you want to be?
If you want to get serious and actually achieve something with your life it’s time to pause and ask yourself if these day to day distractions are aligned with your career goal.
To reach your goal you have to be willing to give these things up for certain periods of time. You have to genuinely ask yourself if you’re happy with how things are now, or if you’re willing to sacrifice these things in order to move onto the next level.
It’s time to get serious and commit to a plan that’s actually going to get your there:
Define Your Desired Outcome
Clearly define specifically what it is that you want to move towards. What is the desired outcome? You must have this established as the clear priority and remind yourself of it every day.
Break it Down into Smaller, More Manageable Tasks
Now you know what needs to be done, it’s time to attack this goal. The trick is to break this goal down into smaller chunks, more manageable steps. Make sure that completing each step will move you meaningfully closer to your goal
Make use of Existing Productivity and Time Tracking Tools
My advice is to make use of the software and tools out there that already have a track record of helping thousands of people implement more structure, transparency and accountability in their lives to help them work faster, more focused, and more productively.
Schedule Tasks at Least Several Days in Advance
Uncertainty and doubt are our biggest time wasters during the day. What shall I wear? Where shall I have lunch? Shall I reply to this email or start writing that report? This causes overwhelm and confusion. You need a clear map of what you’re going to be doing. It’s imperative that you know what you’re supposed to be doing and when you’re supposed to be doing it. Keep a scheduled calendar and stick to it.
If we’re not sure exactly what we’re going to be working on at exactly what time we’re going to find ourselves floundering. Eliminate uncertainty through good planning.
Speed – Don’t Take Time for Granted.
As we can see, it’s very easy to waste time since we seem to have so much of it.
Do not let your work tasks hang over you. Many people are experts at letting things drag on forever, but you need to guard your time as a precious commodity. Get a grip of your time, because if you don’t, you’re going to keep squandering it and you’ll get nowhere.
The price you have to pay is simply bringing more structure and discipline into your day by using productivity tools to hold yourself accountable and measure your real output (real output is not checking your Facebook feed).
Time tracking and setting a countdown timer on your tasks is a great way of making you appreciate your time. It turns what seems like the infinite eternity of your own existence into a set period of time in the here and now that is tangibly real and relatable to a timer ticking down on the screen. By making your time scarce with a start and end point, you’re less likely to be careless with it.
The Importance of Time Management to Achieve Your Goals
So what is the secret to getting more done at work and achieving your specific goals?
The short answer is to set up a focused block of time and get the task done. That may sound flippant, but it is the honest truth and you can see its success in everyone who does it.
It may be simple, but it isn’t easy. That’s why I recommend an online time management system to hold you accountable rather than using pen and paper.
We need to set realistic expectations and consistently stick to them. Day to day your work system should get easier to stick to. Each time you stick to the plan and learn about your strengths and weaknesses through the feedback nature of the system, you’re building momentum.
Over time you’ll notice the snowball effect of having this routine successfully implemented and it will become easier and easier as the habit is ingrained as second nature.