Forget Lengthy To-Do Lists, Focus On These 5 Tips Instead

Struggling to get it all done? Is your workload piling up? Don’t have enough hours in the day?

If you are a mother and entrepreneur who wants to build a lucrative business while trying to raise a wonderful family, you have a lot on your plate. Up early in the morning to prepare the kids for school and sneak in one or two tasks for your business. Then, up late at night, after the kids are in bed, trying to finish the tasks that you have started earlier in the day.

Is anyone else burning the candle at both ends?

Are we actually doing ourselves any favours? Is it okay to take care of our business, spouse and kids while neglecting our health and well-being?

When we are tired, we make mistakes. When we are exhausted, we are less productive. And everything is a struggle. Our business and family won’t be able to depend on us if we are unwell.

So how do we keep it together?

Breaking down what you need to do

If you are anything like me, you write a list of all the things you need or want to do for a day. And it keeps growing and growing and growing. If we’re being honest, we know we cannot complete all the tasks we write on our to-do list within a day, but we create the list anyway.

What if we choose only two or three tasks to complete in a day and just focus on those? And then, instead of concentrating on what we didn’t achieve for the day, what if we write a list of all of the things that we did achieve at the end of the day? Are we going to get better results?

I think we would.

So, don’t get up too early or pull an all-nighter to squeeze in an extra hour of work. Don’t look at the long list of tasks and feel disheartened. Instead, try to apply these tips to help you manage your time better:

1. Improve your focus by turning off distractions.

Email alerts, social media notifications, text messages – anything that grabs your attention away from meaningful work affects your focus. It’s so much easier to concentrate on a task at hand when you get rid of interruptions. Remember what Peter Drucker said: “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”

2. Block out periods of time for highly demanding tasks. Turn off your phone and close the door.

Consider keeping a diary for a week to track how you spend your time. Guard your time fiercely – know where every minute goes and you’ll have a better chance of taking control of every hour. We all have a limit of 24 hours a day so don’t let a minute or two slip unaccounted for. Schedule realistic breaks and include buffer for unexpected things. But be sure to carve out blocks of time and set up the right environment for deep, focused work.

3. Wake up an hour or two earlier in the day to do those pressing tasks.

Client calls, emails, family-related chores occupy most part of our day. But the early risers have control over the first few hours of their day. And they use this time for their most important priorities. Most successful people find early morning as the best time to exercise, meditate or do work that matters most to them. Decide your top priorities and start working on them first thing in the morning.

4. Choose a task that you are going to complete. Set the clock for 30 minutes and get it done.

It’s amazing how much you can achieve in small bursts of time when you focus intensely. Set a timer and do what you can within that span of time to get a clearer picture of how long it takes you to do something. Once you are able to figure out how much time it takes to complete a task, you will have a better way of planning a day-to-day schedule that works for you.

5. Know your strengths, weaknesses, and limits so you can plan accordingly.

Which tasks do you love? Which ones are you great at? What about the tasks that you do not find enjoyable, or struggle to complete? See if you can get help or hire someone to do it for you. If not now, plan to delegate that work in the future.

The first step in managing our time well is knowing where it goes. This takes honesty and careful observation. The best part is that this is something we can work on if we care enough about our sanity, goals, and success.

Over to you: What tips and tricks did you find helpful in managing your time? What obstacles did you have to face when trying to juggle work/business and family life? Share them in the comments.

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