I was just recently reminded of a time when my friend Dan Mall shared about how he replaced the phrase “I don’t have time” with “it’s not a priority”.
He wrote: “Recently, I’ve tried to stop saying, “I don’t have time.” It insinuates that I’m a helpless victim to the all-powerful stream of hours that mightily passes me by. It’s easy to adopt an “Oh well” attitude to what you’re giving up. It authorizes my apathy. Instead, I’ve replaced it with the phrase, “That’s not a priority.” Suddenly, I’ve taken control of my own decisions. I’ve taken responsibility for what I do and don’t do. I’ve added clarity, condemnation, and encouragement, all in 4 short words.”
For me, especially as a business owner, things changed significantly for me when I realized that I alone was in charge of how I spend my time. I have to be the one to decide for myself what the most important use of my time is, and I have no excuses if my schedule feels out of control.
I think it was Greg McKeown who I first heard suggest the following:
Have a minimum amount of time set aside for the good, the deep, and the essential things.
Have a maximum amount of time set aside for those things which are shallow and not essential.
So, the YouTube algorithm popped up this HBR video up for me a few days ago during my rowing workout (TMI?). Anyway, I loved the differentiation here between a plan and a strategy. By separating them out, it forces you to reach a deeper clarity about what winning looks like and how you intend to win.
When talking with Cal Newport a while back, he shared with me about the 3 waves of productivity:
- First there was Efficiency
- Then Intentionally
- Now Meaning
These three waves go in order and each one serves the next. You begin by just trying to be more efficient. Then, once you’ve discovered how to save time, you begin to focus more on making sure you’re being proactive with how you spend your time. And then, lastly, you move toward meaningful productivity — where you take back all that time you are saving and you use it for the things that matter.
Thus, as you can see, you need all three to get the true benefits, and it’s not until you get to the third wave that you start to see all the benefits. It is in the third wave — Meaningful Productivity — where you start to produce more valuable work and you find your work more meaningful.
Such as how to have healthy relationships. How to manage your money. How to take care of your body. How to be in control of your schedule. How to accomplish your goals.
We are told that these things are important. And, if we are fortunate, then we may even see these things modeled for us in our life. But we are rarely actually given the skills, mindsets, and information we need in order to live them out in our own life.
Here are 10 tips to help you stop procrastinating that thing
- Set a short timer
- Ask someone to help you
- Get a focus buddy for accountability
- Only do one thing at a time
- Time block your tasks
- Go on a short walk and think about what you’ll do when you get back
- Ask someone else to do it (delegate)
- Answer “why” 3 times
- Don’t be perfect; focus on good enough
- Leave your phone in a different room
Which number is most helpful for you?
For me, I lean on 2, 5, and 9 the most: I work more efficiently when I am collaborating with someone else; time blocking my day helps me stay on track; and I’m a chronic over-thinker who has to be reminded to stop overthinking things.