I need more time.
I wish I had more time.
That’s one of the most common phrases people will say.
However, the truth is, everyone from the world's richest billionaires to Joe Blow down the road has the exact same 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
It’s not that we need more time.
What we need instead, is more focus.
Over the past two decades, research has shown that our attention span has significantly decreased by 25%, to just 8.25 seconds. That's less than a goldfish!
With more technology at our fingertips than ever before, our tendency is to now look for quick fixes.
We can scroll through Facebook divulging 100s of pieces of information or watch 20 clips on Tik Tok in just a few minutes.
No wonder it’s so hard for us just to sit down, and focus on things that are actually important to us.
So how do we destroy our distractions, to stay focused and get sh*t done?
Follow these 5 steps.
1. Prioritise (and learn to say NO)
Do you say you want something, but never seem to have time to do it?
Maybe it's going to the gym, working on that side hustle or making more time for friends and family?
If you’re struggling to actually do the things you want to do, it’s not because you don’t have enough time (#excuse).
So what should you do?
First up, write a list of what’s important to you.
Then number them from most important to least important.
This is your list of priorities.
So when you have a decision to make on whether or not you should do something, check your list. If it’s not on there, then practice saying NO. If it’s between A or B, ask yourself, which one is higher on your priority list?
Note, there’s an important caveat here. If making money right now is higher on your priority list than spending time with friends and family, just make sure that you’re not ALWAYS prioritising money over friends and family, as that’s a quick way to destroy your relationships. Instead, maybe only prioritise it, let’s say like 70% of the time.
2. Schedule everything (so you take the decision out of it)
Did you know it’s estimated that we make about 35,000 decisions every day - from what to eat and wear, to what we say and do?
Each time we make a decision, this zaps a bit of energy out of us.
By the end of the day, after all these decisions, our will power to make good decisions start to fade – also called decision fatigue.
Facebook Founder, Mark Zuckerberg and former US president, Barrack Obama are famous for understanding this concept. They admit to wearing basically the same thing every day – because running a billion dollar company and the most powerful country in the world, requires them to make life changing important decisions. And as such, they take out as many decisions as possible, like what to wear, to have enough energy to focus on more important things.
So when it comes to focusing on your priorities, schedule your tasks in your calendar the night before, so when you wake up you already know what you will be doing. No “ums” and “buts”.
I literally schedule everything in my calendar, from laundry and meal prep to writing articles and setting my to do list.
If you don’t set the task, either you’ll forget to do it, or every time you think of doing the task – there will be an internal battle - “Should I do this now or later?”, “Should I even do this task at all?”. But when you schedule it beforehand, you take the decision out of it, which makes it’s easier for you to take action – because you’re already mentally committed to doing it!
3. Prime your environment
A bad environment can cause you to procrastinate more, and a good one can help you be more productive and support you in achieving your goals. For example, it’s no good having a cupboard full of cookies when your goal is to get healthy.
Priming your environment, means optimising it for success.
Make your environment work FOR you, not AGAINST you.
Want to get work done faster? Eliminate distractions and procrastination pit stops. Turn off your notifications and close those distracting web browsers.
If you need extra help, try these apps to get you super focused.
4. Commit to micro tasks
If you’re not used to focusing for long stretches, just start with 15 minutes or even 5 minutes.
It might seem ridiculous to only do a task for 5 minutes. But first of all, 5 minutes, once a day, for 7 days, is better than 0 minutes, never.
Second of all, you’ll be surprised at how much you can achieve in short bursts. I use this principle for myself with writing. I commit to writing at least one paragraph a day. Some days this is all I would write, other days the act of doing it would inspire me and soon enough I’ve spent an hour typing away. Either way, even with just one paragraph a day, I would finish at least one article each month, as opposed to zero!
5. Check if you can delegate (and let stuff go)
Don’t try and do it all. Yes, I know, we all wish we were superhuman, but reality is we only have so much time and so much energy.
I know this might be especially hard if you’re a perfectionist like me. But remember, when we try and do everything ourselves, it means we have less time to focus on things we actually want to do.
If you have a task that you could delegate to someone, take that opportunity. Even if it means it’s not done exactly the way you want, learn to let go.
There’s no such thing as having more time, instead it’s about getting more focused.
The 5 steps above might sound really simple, but I bet 95% of people who say they have no time are not doing at least 1 of these steps.
If you’re one of them, try them out - and see how much more time you will have!
Have a tip to get more focused? Leave me a comment below.