Not Enough Time? Here’s the Fix

If you ask average person to do an additional task, they say they are usually too busy to take on anything new. Their typical response: “not enough time.”

If you ask the same question to a busy person, someone who clearly has a packed schedule, sits on boards, volunteers their time for charitable causes, is an executive or on track to become one, they will think for a moment and then give you one of two replies: 1) “Sorry, I can’t take that on because …” (they tell you why) or 2) “Yes, I can do that. When do you need it by?”not enough time

Not enough time? Give a busy person something you need done and they will find enough time to get it done.  They work late, cut down on television, get into the office early, squeeze out time during lunch or on the weekend and get assistance when they can. They are busier than most, yet they know how to manage their time well enough to be able take on new tasks. It’s not that these people do anything extraordinary. Yet we see them as extraordinary because of the amount of things they are able to accomplish. How do they do it?  For starters, they don’t complain. It’s not in their nature to whine about problems. They don’t focus on “not enough time.”  They would much rather put their energies toward finding a solution.

Which one of those reactions best describes your behavior? Are you the “not enough time” person or the “sure, I’ll do it” person?  You can mold yourself  by asking these simple questions that adjust your frame of reference and have a big impact on your ability to manage your time:

  1. How much time will this task really take?
    1. Are you just being bothered because someone asked you to do something that wasn’t initially on your plate or does this task really require a major investment in time?
    2. Or are you disturbed because of the nature of the person who made the request?
    3. Will you meet new people and expand your network of contacts as a result of working on this task?
    4. Will this add to your resume?
    5. Will you be doing someone a favor (which is a good thing, by the way)?
  2. What are the ramifications if you personally don’t take on this task?
    1. Is someone using you as a crutch to avoid doing the work themselves? If so, then that’s a good reason to use the opportunity to encourage them to stand on their own feet.
    2. Would the task not get done at all if you didn’t agree to do it?
    3. What are the benefits to all involved if you did this task?

Dig deep and you will probably find that you have the time to do a lot more than you do now. Your actions will change your reputation so you are regarded as the highly prized person that people turn to when they want to get something done. There is always enough time.

Things on My Ignore List

You’re busy. You probably have a “to do” list to keep you on task. The tighter your focus is during the day, the more you can accomplish. That means you have to let some things go by the wayside. We rarely create a written list of things to ignore, but we store all of them in our minds.

My ignore list is shaped through the prism of knowing what is most important in growing my business: acquiring new customers. If something comes up that isn’t focused on business development, I tend to ignore it because it will not help me achieve my goal.

By ignore, I don’t really mean to completely ignore doing something that needs to be done, just delegate it or put it off for after-hours work. For example, I don’t enjoy doing bookkeeping work so I hired someone else to do that. Also, my company gets so many customer support calls each day that I need a team to manage the volume. I’m always available for special cases, but most calls are easily supported by others.

The things I don’t focus on during the day allow me time to concentrate on the things that I need to focus on, the things that will help my company grow, the things that need to be done during normal work hours.

Here is my ignore list. I usually do these tasks during off-hours:

  1. Bookkeeping review (I have a bookkeeping team who handles day to day tasks)
  2. Catching up on my blog reading
  3. Reviewing reports
  4. Tweeting (I often schedule posts to go out throughout the day)
  5. Facebook
  6. Budgeting
  7. Basic research for competitive analysis
  8. Administrative tasks that I can’t delegate to someone else

My role during work hours is to generate new business, form partnerships and figure out other ways to grow the company. Anything else gets put on my ignore list till later.

Get in the Zone

When you’re extraordinarily focused for a short period of time, you are in “the zone.”

No Interruption Policy

Getting in the zone at work means no phone calls, no texts, no tweets, no meetings, no dialog with anybody, no checking your friends’ Facebook posts,  no interruptions  – period , except for an occasional sip of Red Bull.

We’ve all been there. You know it works. Getting in the zone empowers you to focus with laser-like accuracy on a specific task, problem or issue that requires your utmost attention. Everything else is tuned out. There is just one mission: get your task done.

It’s hard to get in the zone for long periods at a time. It’s like swimming underwater. You need to come up for air and have a change of pace.

All too often, we never allow ourselves to actually get in the zone. There is always an interruption. We use the interruption as an excuse not to focus. At the end of the day, we haven’t accomplished nearly as much as we could have. It doesn’t have to be like this. You can squeeze out so much more juice out of each day with a small shift in your mindset.

Pretend You’re Going on Vacation

Think about the work day before you leave for an extended vacation. You are so focused on making sure that everything you are working on has either been completed or your colleagues know the next steps to address in your absence. You are able to get in the zone.  You take a shorter lunch break and avoid all distractions so you can wrap up in time and enjoy your vacation. Getting in the zone is forced upon you so you ensure that everything on your “to do” is knocked out.

What if you planned in advance to get in the zone as if you were about to go on vacation the next day? How much more could you accomplish at the office tomorrow if your mind was dead set on completing a series of tasks that are important. Tune out the noise, the “triviata.” Only hone in on your mission and make it happen.

This magical day of accomplishment usually won’t happen by itself. You need to mark it on yourcalendar. I often take an imagination day  just to allow myself to get in the zone about business strategy. Other days, I schedule in 2-3 hour blocks of time when my phone is on do-not-disturb and my door is closed.

I can’t do this all of the time. When I do, this technique of pretending I’m going on vacation and allocating concentrated time to focus gives me a boost of energy followed by a sense of accomplishment.

Tell me about ways you focus to accomplish your tasks and goals.