Step 1: Where are you now?
Before we can get a handle on our schedules, we need to take an accurate and thorough assessment of how we’re currently spending our time.
We need to increase awareness.
What I’ve found is that most people who are short on time aren’t really aware of all the ‘leaks in the bucket’.
Five minutes here, ten minutes there…
Over the course of a day, week or month, those little things start to add up.
Plus, I think we’re all guilt of some major time-wasters as well.
But we’ll get to that shortly.
It’s important that you know you don’t have to give everything up that you love.
You don’t have to only sleep 3-4 hours a night or anything crazy like that.
Our goal in this module is to identify the flagrant time wasters in your life that really aren’t getting you anywhere or bringing you any happiness or satisfaction.
Once we’ve identified those things, we can replace them with other things that are more congruent with your goals and the person you want to become.
If you LOVE to watch a certain sports team or TV show, and it brings you a lot of happiness, then that’s staying on our “good” list.
But if you’re OCD about checking Facebook or your email every 20 minutes, and there’s no real reason to do so (rarely is), then that’s something we want to dial back on.
Ah, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
First we need to do this exercise to get clear on how we’re spending our time RIGHT NOW.
That’ll give us a baseline to improve on.
Click the link below to Download the Time Log PDF:
I cannot stress how important it is that you follow this exercise exactly as described in the attached PDF.
If you’re thinking you’ll do it later, I have to warn you…you won’t. Take action now and begin this exercise.
Reading through this module without doing the actually work is a waste of your time.
(Note: I’m not looking down on you. I often read books that tell me to do certain things and I think I’d like to just keep reading and do the exercise later.
I have to fight that urge all the time- it’s human nature.
So if you have the same temptation, decide to fight it!
Step 2: Assessment, Prioritization and Quick Fixes
Alright, so what’d you think?
What couple things really popped out at you about how you spend your time?
What happens almost across the board when people do this exercise is that they see a bunch of small “time leaks” that add up to a large chunk of their day.
If you’re working out for two hours a day, or watching TV for two hours a day, chances are you’re pretty aware of that.
But when you see that you spend almost 7 hours a week surfing ESPN.com or Facebook, you think “WHOA”.
What were the “time leaks” that caused you to say “WHOA”?
I want you to look over your results from the exercise, and classify things into 4 categories:
These are things like
- Picking the kids up from school
- Sleep (within reason)
- Grocery shopping
- Commuting to and from work
- Spending time with family
- And other things that are foundational to your life and happiness
These are things like
- Activities or groups that are really important to you
- Favorite hobby
- Reading (fiction or nonfiction)
- Relaxation activities
- Nights out with your friends or spouse
- Favorite sports team or entertainment
- Take it or Leave it
This is the second tier of entertainment:
- TV shows you watch just because they're on
- Social media
- Entertainment magazines
- Gossip conversations about nothing in particular
- Hobbies that don't have you totally engaged
- Continuous email checking
- 24-hour talking head news
- Gotta go!
These are the things that you know need to go. I won’t offer up suggestions here, because everyone is different.
These things should jump out at you as things that need to stop NOW.
Ask yourself this question about all of your activities…
“Is this getting me closer to where I want to be?”
…as a parent?
…as a businessperson?
…as a healthy adult?
Be honest with yourself. And be ruthless with your time.
Most of the “time leaks” in our life are things we like and are accustomed to doing.
Break that comfort zone!
Hold every minute of your time accountable. If you’re spending precious minutes on something that isn’t getting you closer to where you want to be, then cut it out of your schedule. Never mind who’s feelings get hurt. You’ve got to get your house in order!
We want to first look at our “take it or leave it” and “gotta go” activities.
If it’s in the “gotta go” pile, you already know what to do.
But what about the “take it or leave it” pile?
You’ll have to decide here.
My recommendation is that you make a hard and fast rule to completely cut out most of these things. And then decide to keep a few others as guilty pleasures.
This will force you to pick your favorite activities- the ones that give you the most satisfaction.
Can you see how this pruning and prioritization will start to increase the quality of your life?
Next, we’ll take a look at our “Musts” and our “Importants”…
Is there any way to make these more efficient?
For example, if you spend a lot of time commuting, you could start listening to business podcasts or books on tape.
Same goes for exercising. Subscribe to some podcasts and get some books on tape from audible.com
This method of killing two birds with one stone will skyrocket your productivity and growth as an entrepreneur.
Get creative. Go through your list of ‘importants’ and ‘musts’ and figure out how you can trim the fat.
Since I work from home, I used to spend a ton of time cooking pretty simple meals.
When I did this exercise and realized I was spending 4-5 hours cooking, I decided to make a change.
(Note: cooking was not one of my chosen hobbies, nor was this particular kind of cooking something that I really enjoyed. It was more functional than anything. Cooking can be an awesome hobby, though, that is well-worth the time spent).
So I decided to do almost all of my cooking for the week on Sunday.
It took me about 2 ½ hours to do this, and I was basically set for the week.
Bam. That’s 1 ½ to 2 ½ extra hours in my week that I just created!
Now take a look at your own schedule and figure out where you can implement the same strategy.
I’ve alluded to some quick fixes already, but here are a few to get you started:
- Cut down on social media
Get on Facebook once or twice a day for a set amount of time. That’s it. We all know what happens when we log on to ‘check something real quick’ and 20 minutes later find ourselves watching videos of dogs riding skateboards (yea, that actually happened to me…don’t ask).
The same goes for other social media outlets you use. This is a really fast and effective way to take back some of your time each day!
- Check email 3-4 times a day- max.
Respond to all emails during pre-set 15-20 minute time blocks throughout the day (ex. 12pm and 4pm).
How urgent are your emails REALLY??
- Cut down on the news.
In our age of 24-hours talking heads, this 'need to stay current' can take over our lives. If you aren't ready to give up the news completely, you can manage your time spent by setting aside specific, small blocks of time during the day where you're allowed to check stories.
This applies to entertainment news as well, which has little, if any, redeeming value. Our lives will do on just fine whether or not we know where Kim and Kanye were hanging out this weekend 🙂
- Turn off the TV
Here’s a stat to make your stomach turn: The average American watches 5 hours of TV per day.
That's 1,825 hours per year- the equivalent of watching TV 24/7 for more than 70 days in a row.
Does that blow your mind?
Think if just half that time was spent interacting with the family, exercising, working on a business idea, or experiencing life first-hand instead of watching fake characters on TV living out a fantasy life.
Full disclaimer: I watch TV sometimes, too, and I enjoy it (gasp!). But we have to be careful not to let it get out of control.
Five hours a day is about 33% of our waking hours- spent staring into a box. I don’t know about you, but that’s kind of scary. It’s no wonder so many people wonder “where all the time went”!
So now you’re armed with knowledge, awareness and a list of prioritized activities that you can use to control your future!
Let’s take it one step further…
Step 3: Commitment and Consistency
We’ve already done the bulk of the work.
Now, let’s put this plan into motion.
Use your notes from Step 2 to get really specific about what you will and won’t spend your time on.
THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT:
Write it down!
When you write it down, it becomes real.
If these ideas just stay in your head, odds are that you won’t take action on them.
You want be very clear and specific with this, so that someone who doesn’t even know you could read it and know exactly what you’ve committed to.
- Specific amounts of time you’ll spend.
- Number of times a day you’ll do certain things.
- Specific activities that you commit to eliminating completely.
- Specific new activities that you commit to doing, along with frequency and amount of time.
Then it’s time for the next step, and this is just as important as writing it down.
You NEED to tell someone about your plans. Preferably someone who’s close to you, who you speak with a lot, and who is a positive, supportive person in your life.
Tell them you know it’s going to be tough and you want them to hold you accountable for sticking to these commitments.
That’ll go a long way, because if it’s someone you’re close to, you won’t want to disappoint them and look bad by going back on your word.
This is a highly powerful psychological technique you can use on yourself to get results!
Of course, now it’s time to put the plan into action. You’ve got a lot of specifics in place now, so it’s just a matter of following the roadmap.
In order to ensure long-term success and continued improvement, here’s what I recommend as well:
Stop reading right now.
Set a recurring appointment in your phone for Sunday evening every week. Make sure it dings to give you a reminder.
Each Sunday when the alarm dings, I want you to review the week that just passed.
How did you do?
Did you stick to your commitments?
Where did you slip up?
What caused the slip up?
Where did you succeed?
How did it feel to stay strong?
Then look ahead to the following week…
What temptations or obstacles do you anticipate in the week ahead?
Where are you focused on improving?
Where do you have momentum that you want to build on?
This combination of reviewing and looking ahead will give you a lot more certainty and control over the situation and will ultimately be a huge part of your long-term success.