I have frequently asked this question in the past, and even now it sometimes comes to my mind. Do we have too little time to do everything that we want to do?
Why such a question?
Because in the past, every day when I go to my work and look at my to-do list, I see 50 to hundreds of tasks. There were tasks even before several months I put on the list.
With such a to-do list, I found myself that I can not focus on my most important things.
So, every day I asked myself “why this happened to me.” How can I become better achiever?
Simply, I need to do something. I need to improve myself and start finishing every critical thing on my list.
How much time we have?
The time, when we talk about productivity is a limited category. We can not have more than 24 hours in a day. There is no escape from this. It’s a fact.
In this time interval, besides your working duties, you have other personal obligations as basic physiological needs. And when I think about time, it’s easy to come to a hasty conclusion that we have too little time and the time is guilty about our failure to do everything we want to do.
But, apparently, we can not change anything here.
One example how we make horrible mistakes when it comes to time management
These few months I was so busy that for example a couple of days on the road it’s going to get 500-600 emails in my email inbox. One part from these emails is those who do not require responses from my side. Another part is simple questions, one small part is those unwanted messages, and one part is the priority ones that need some action by me, etc. So, although perhaps only 20% of those messages are essential to my work, 80% require some kind of processing such as review, deletion or leaving to answer later. I treat the priority emails immediately, no matter which device I’m using and from where. But the problem remains with that remaining 80 % of messages.
When it comes to emails, I have decided to sort the received messages in my Inbox so that the oldest messages appear first and the latest ones to be the last. And just because of such a decision, for some time I’ve managed to keep the level of messages in my Inbox to be around 30. Simply to get to the latest one, I must at least look at some of the older ones and finally decide whether to download something or simply press the Delete button or the “Archive” button.
In such a situation, when I want to do something I can not do it. This is because of the GTD principle that I use. In many cases, the message requires more than two minutes of my attention and focus. So it often happens that there are unread messages because I want to reply but again and again at the moment when I see it I need more than two minutes of my time. It’s going to take days or months when I finally decide something. I say “why I’m already lying to myself when I will not respond to this email, and it is my shame to respond in a couple of months after.” So, I simply click the “Delete” button or “Archive.”
The real problem behind our productivity
This example and dozens of others brought me to one conclusion: It is not true that we have too little time to do whatever we want to do or need to do, it is exactly how it should be. The problem is that we want to do too many things in an impossible time frame.
With such behavior, we only increase, add, switch from today to tomorrow and add again for tomorrow, that increases our to-do list twice and more
Then, we will go back, and we delete what we have added, and when we finally think that we are returning our lives in our own hands, we again exponentially increase our list.
This is a huge problem for all of us. We need to do something about our to-do list, and our behavior when it comes to time management and our own productivity
What can we do to succeed in finishing what we really need to do?
- Setup goals and be clear what you really need to achieve. This is the first step from where you can start. And again, do not make a mistake to set up hundreds of unachievable goals. You will need SMART goals if you want to succeed in this process.
- Know what your priorities are. This is the most important thing when you want to improve your time management efforts. If you don’t want what your priorities are, everything will become your priority.
- Keep your to-do list as short as possible. Remember that you have only 24 hours daily available. Use your priorities based on your goals and put only two to three things that you will need to do each day. All of this things each day will move you one step closer to your goals.