Everyone has the same amount of time; 24 hours, or 1440 minutes each day.
But why is it that some accomplish far more with the same amount of time than others?
The answer lies in how we manage time; specifically how we handle ourselves in relation to time.
Some people have clearer goals, greater discipline, and are far more organized than others. And that’s how they accomplish more!
Below are three simple strategies that help you squeeze more from every hour, so you can get more “stuff done.”
#1 Think of Time as Money in Your Pocket
Image how your thinking about time would change if you used a time-money equation.
For simplicity sake let’s say you’re earning $100/hour, or $1.66/minute. Just think, every 5 minutes scrolling through social media equals $8.30 of potential income.
Now, I realize you don’t want to express your life in cents and dollars; life is so much more than that.
But the idea is to boost awareness of how we’re spending our time. Putting an exact value on time might just get the job done!
I encourage you to think of time as you think of money! For most of us, money is a limited resource that needs to be managed. And this is how you want to think about time, a finite resource.
Thinking of time as we do about money allows us to clearly understand that we must spend time wisely to become successful; just as we would spend money wisely to accumulate wealth.
Most people have a budget for the money they bring in. You have money coming in and money going out, and some is left for you to spend as you please. Chances are you’ve created a money budget that works for you.
Now, consider creating a “time budget” for yourself. Design your time budget so you can fulfill all your commitments and still have some time left to use as you please.
And consider this, if you don’t create your own “time-budget” and decide how you will spend your time, someone else will do it for you.
Here’s is what I mean…
Unless you decide how you will spend and what you will do with your time, someone else will take up your time. Essentially, somebody else will command your time. Don’t let that happen, take charge of your schedule and your time.
As I said before, all of us have the same amount of time, but we all spend it differently. Decide to spend your time on things that are important to you, help you move forward and succeed in life rather than on time wasters that get you nowhere.
#2 Use the First Half-Hour of the Day for Planning
Use the first few minutes of your day to create an agenda for yourself. List everything you need to get done and things you’d like to get to.
Over time you’ll find your days will be more productive with, than without organization. On occasion, your plans will go awry, but it’s still better to schedule out your tasks than not to.
Begin by thinking through the day ahead. Do you have a full day of patients on your schedule? If so, all other items on your agenda need to fit around it or move to the following day.
Try to avoid overscheduling. Routinely piling too much on your plate, may leave you feeling unsuccessful or even inadequate. But the reality is, you can only get so much done in a days’ work.
Build some buffers in your schedule. Rather than planning one thing after the other, built in extra time between tasks. This allows you to take a breather and catch up from the things taking longer than planned.
You already do this with your patients. You purposefully schedule extra ten plus minutes between appointments. These few minutes help absorb unforeseen events and get your schedule back on track.
In other words, take care of your critical items before the easy and mindless activities have a chance to eat into your important morning time.
Before you leave the office, take some time to look at what you’ve accomplished for the day. Also, take a few extra minutes to get organized and plan your schedule for the next day.
If you do, you’ll be ready to start tomorrow without having to spend much time on planning or getting organized.
#3 Discover Where You’re Wasting Time
Most of us are guilty of wasting time in one way or another. There are the time-bandits of surfing the net, talking on the phone, scrolling through emails, social media, and mindlessly staring at the TV.
Unless you get these time killers under control, they can severely undercut your progress.
Internal time wasters
These are the time wasters that are within your control. Monitor your actions to find out where YOU are wasting time.
- Do you waste time by not preparing, running late, or procrastinating?
- Do you spend far too much time chatting with patients when it’s not necessary?
- Do you allow frequent unnecessary interruptions?
- Do you spend too much time on the net, social media, or your phone?
- Do you waste time with multi-tasking, jumping from one task to the next without finishing any of them?
Keep track of your behavior over a few days and see where your time wasters live. Then, of course, ask yourself what you need to do to eliminate them from your behavior.
Perhaps you could benefit from:
- Using a timer to stay on task
- Stick a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door to finish your charts, or
- Turn off email and social media notifications so you won’t be distracted
Do whatever it takes to regain control of your time!
External time wasters
These are the time wasters suggested to you. Learn to say “No” to actions and conversations that waste your time.
It’s all too easy to get sucked into office conversations that keep you from working on your projects. If anything, they may contribute to leaving you feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. They eat into your time and prevent you from doing things that matter and bring you closer to completing a task.
You can’t always limit a conversation with a patient, not when their upset or digesting a piece of bad news. But, you can politely limit unnecessary office chatter with staff and even patients, so you can get back to your work.
It’s essential you set boundaries for yourself and learn to say no. Because when you answer “yes,” to every request that comes your way you won’t get much done and eventual will have to deal with the consequences.
All too many of us are quick to put off doing things for ourselves so that we can help others; women, in particular, excel in this area.
You may end up working late, or putting in extra hours, just to keep up with all the extra work. But keep in mind, if you lose sleep and neglect taking care of yourself, it won’t help in the long run.
So, for your benefit, learn to say “No!”
Unless you’re a one-person office, you may have employees that need to be managed. From time to time there may be problems with how they handle their time in your office, which in turn may be a drain on your time.
While every situation is different, one thing applies across the board. Don’t ignore a problem with an employee. If you become aware that there is an issue with managing time, address it head-on, at once.
Talk to the person and give them an opportunity to change. At the same time keep a close eye to make sure their work gets done. If the issue is not resolved, it may end up costing you extra time and resources.
This concludes our discussion of strategies you can use to squeeze more from your time. They are simple, but highly effective when implemented.
Keep in mind, that if you fail to manage your time, time will “control” you; most often in the form of someone else making demands on your time!
Tell us what you think. Leave us a comment below and share what YOU do to manage your time.
By Johanna Hofmann, MBA, LAc; regular contributor to the NPBusiness blog and author of “Smart Business Planning for Clinicians.”