Everyone hates to admit it, but you know it’s true. Time is our most essential asset if used efficiently. We all have 24 hours in our schedules. Thus, no matter what anyone says, we’re equal. It’s how we use our time that makes all the difference.
Isn’t it fascinating how some people can maximize their productivity levels while others can but don’t? I’ve always wondered how someone like Elon Musk runs his businesses, stays sane and functional, and lives a fulfilling life. Then I thought: it’s not that he has time for everything; it’s that he made time for things that matter to him the most.
The myth is, many people believe they don’t have the time to start a side hustle, learn a new skill or language, or read a book. It’s easy to fall into this trap. Think about it, you must have said NO to one of those before. I have. I do it all the time knowing it’s false. The trick to conquering the “I don’t have time” myth is to become aware of it.
Here are 4 ways to stay on top of your game, catch the excuses in your head, destroy them, and be extra productive.
1. Set 3 big goals for the month
I hate planning. It overwhelms me. Most of the advice out there is that you should sketch out your month, week, or day in advance. That you should make a detailed plan. It sounds like a chore if you ask me. Being able to manage time well and increase productivity shouldn’t involve more work, should it?
The best way to go about this is to have 3 big goals at the beginning of each month. When you have a list of 15 goals, just looking at them will crush your drive. As a result, it will cause inaction and a decrease in motivation. However, when you write 3 goals on a piece of paper or Google doc, it’s light, doable, and manageable, and there’s nothing more empowering than having a can-do attitude when looking at a list of goals.
2. Eat the biggest frog of the day
This is in Brian Tracy’s book “Eat that frog”. In it, he refers to big goals as frogs. When you wake up, you need to identify your hardest, most important task for the day, and go after it first thing in the morning.
It’s essential to eat ONE big frog, preferably a task that demands energy and focus. For me, It’s writing a long piece, article, or email. I head straight to my Mac when I get out of bed because I know I need to be one step ahead of my day before it sweeps me away. You need to preserve an hour or two that is free of distractions to work efficiently and get meaningful results.
Again, the more goals you have, the harder it is to manage time and be more productive. Do this every day and every small step will add up to enormous accomplishments.
“Time is a created thing. To say I don’t have time is to say I don’t want to.” – Lao Tzu
3. Prioritize and protect your time
Like money, it’s important to watch where your time goes. That’s your first step towards effective time management. Choose a suitable time to do your most important tasks and protect that time with your life. By that I mean never say yes to unexpected tasks. Life can easily get away from you.
Also, most people undervalue time. They don’t know if you’re busy or free, and they’ll always ask you to hang out and have fun. Use that lack of knowledge to your advantage. It’s better to look unavailable or active even when you’re not. It makes it easy to say no to things that add nothing of value to your life. By protecting and spending your time how you want, you have more in control.
The worst thing that can happen is when time is controlling you. That’s what makes a person say “I don’t have time”. It just means they’re entangled in their own illusion, and the sad part is they’ve convinced themselves they can’t change their situation. As a result, they lose hope and live the rest of their lives thinking there was no solution to their problems due to “lack of time”.
In a nutshell, be more aware of how your time is spent, and invest it into important habits that’ll move the needle, which will allow you to grow personally and professionally.
4. Hell yeah or no
This concept is based on a book by the same title: “Hell yeah or no: what’s worth doing” by Derek Sivers.
When you’re asked to do something, anything, the answer to it should always be hell yeah or no. If you’re not feeling pumped about going after a goal, question that decision. There should be nothing between hell yeah and no.
Therefore, we have to be picky about where our time goes. Before taking on new projects, I think long and hard about how much time I’ll have to invest. I ask myself these questions:
- What am I going to get out of this once it’s complete?
- Is it genuinely going to be worth my time?
- How much time will I have to invest every day and week?
For example, I’ve always wanted to learn how to code. Even though it’s boring — a clear red flag — I knew it’s necessary for my writing business. Given that I’m not a techie person, I find coding ridiculously time-consuming and unenjoyable. It’ll take me weeks, if not more, to become decent at it, so it won’t be worth my time. Instead, I can use that time to do other exciting things for myself.