So many people get to the end of their work day, looking at what’s still on their list to be done, and tell themselves there’s got to be a better way. They feel the pressure of deadlines looming, and they just wish there were more hours in the day. Maybe you know people like this.
The key is, how to solve this. And below is an example of how I do it myself and how I teach others to do it for themselves. And for those of you who saw my one minute YouTube video on Parkinson’s Law, you will relate to this.
First, I have a question to ask you. If you had an extra hour in your day, what would you spend it doing? That is a very important question, because if you don’t know what you would be doing, then you’re not about to make time for it. This works best when there is something really compelling for you. Something that you really want to do, but haven’t been able to make the time so far. Something that when it is done, you will see it as a really worthwhile achievement. You will hear others congratulating you on it, and you will feel that sense of satisfaction that today was a good day and you really made an awesome difference. This thing we will call your Compelling and Awesome Thing (CAT).
When you are clear on the worthwhile thing or things that you would spend your time on, if you had just one extra hour in your day, you are ready to make it happen. And we’d love to hear from you not only how much time you got from doing this strategy, but we’d love you to also tell us what it was that you did with that extra time.
How to get an extra hour every day
Parkinson’s Law says that the work expands to fill the time available. This is just like how you can never have a shed big enough, because no matter how big it is, it will still get filled up. So it is not really about getting a bigger shed, and it is not really about getting more time. It is really about making better use of what we have got.
A lot of people have a junk room or place in the house where they put the stuff that doesn’t fit elsewhere. Ever noticed that? And most people subscribe to the theory of ‘out of sight; out of mind’, so the stuff doesn’t get dealt with until it is overflowing and out of control. Then they get stressed out and overwhelmed about it and eventually spend ages trying to sort it out. And after slogging away for hours, it seems like they have hardly made a dent in it. That sucks. Well, one of my written goals for last year (you’ve got written goals, right?) was to clear the clutter out of our main bedroom.
Suitcases (put the problem in full view)
We had a bunch of stuff piled in our bedroom, including suitcases. For us, the suitcases belong under the beds, but they wouldn’t fit because there were toys under the beds. So we moved the toys out and put the suitcases in. Simple right. Now we needed to deal with the toys, so we sorted them out into three piles; what to keep, give away and bin. And it could only be a ‘keep’ if it would fit where toys are supposed to be kept (a place for everything and everything in it’s place!). We threw out the ‘bin’ stuff, which left the giveaways. So we stacked them up right near the front door, in full view right where everyone could see them. And it got sorted out and dealt with very fast, I can tell you.
This same strategy is what you can do to free up the time in your calendar too. Because your ‘suitcase’ is actually the thing that you really want to have time for. You have to fit it in, so get out your calendar and schedule in an hour today and every day for a week where you will spend time doing you Compelling and Awesome Thing; your CAT.
Now you may wonder what happens to the stuff that you would have been doing during that hour. That’s equivalent to the toys under the bed. Well, that is also quite simple. It will either get done or it wont, depending on how important it really is. We all get distracted sometimes, which impacts our productivity (how long it takes to get something done). And as Parkinson’s Law indicates, if we only have seven hours (instead of eight), the tasks will take seven hours. Just like how people become much more productive in the days and weeks before a holiday. They get much better focused and are much better at handling distractions (as I talked with our Inner Circle members last week).
“Don’t count the days; make the days count“ – Muhammad Ali
And if you are telling yourself that that’s how long it takes, and this strategy won’t work, ask yourself if the things take that long for everybody, or are there some people who would take longer to do it? Did it used to take you longer, but you found better ways? Now unless you are the absolute world’s best in your field (I assume you are good, but not yet world #1), then some people would be able to get the results you are getting with less of their time, right? So you may wonder how they do it, which is a good thing to wonder, and even better to find out about.
And let’s face it. We all spend some time on stuff that we could really do without, like surfing the net, procrastinating, perfecting, re-doing. So however many things you’ve got on your list that you realistically will get done in the day, you really can find ways to get them done in a day that is one hour shorter. And done well, especially when you are better focussed on the results you want to achieve and the CATs that you have been, and will continue to, make your time for.
When you have done this, send us a quick email to let us know how much time you got from doing this strategy and what it was that you did with that extra time.
And for those of you wondering, when we had cleared all the stuff out of the main bedroom, it felt so great to see the space, tidiness and to know that now we are on top of it, it will be much more manageable from here onwards.
Have a great day,
The Business Time Lord team
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