If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed at times, maybe there is too much on your plate? There are only so many hours in the day and chances are you are beating yourself up about not accomplishing things that in reality you couldn't accomplish in a single day anyway. Take some time to write down what really matters in your every day life and schedule in those things first. I call them the 5 F's: Family, Fitness, Faith, Fun, Finances. Sometimes I add in Food, because some of us need to remember to eat! Your Full-Time job is another one I reference, especially for my clients who work their business part time in addition to a full-time job. This "F" is interchangeable with Finances, especially if your full-time job is your main source of income.
How are your relationships doing? How's your health? What about your spiritual and mental health? Do you have a way to get away from the outside world and realign with your higher self? Are you having fun? Are the bills paid? If you get all that in order, not much else really matters. I know it seems hard to accept, especially if you are a work-a-holic like me, but remember why you started your business in the first place. Did you want to spend more time with your family? Did you want to have a flexible schedule to do the things you thought you never had time for? How is that working out for you?
In my Direct Sales Leadership Academy Course (new version will be released after the holidays), I train my clients to stop trying to balance it all and start harmonizing their work-life connections. The balancing act is a myth; so is "time management". You can't manage time, that is the one thing we can never get back once its gone and we can never buy more of. We all have the same 24 hours in a day, it's what we do with the time we are given that matters. If you took out your latest to-do list (I'm talking about the long one you keep adding to or postponing until "tomorrow"), and wrote down realistically how long it would take to accomplish all of those tasks in one day, you would soon realize you are setting yourself up for failure on a regular basis. No wonder you feel overwhelmed and defeated.
There will never be "balance". One area of your life will need more attention than the other at times and things will need to get shifted around, but you can create harmony when you focus on what's important and let go of control. To create a more productive list, start by picturing what an ideal day in your business-life looks like. What time do you get up? What is the first thing you do? Meditate? Exercise? Reach for the coffee? Or hit the snooze button (again)? There is no right answer. I want you to picture your IDEAL day in this life you are creating. What are your business hours? What kind of tasks do you want to be doing daily? What would you rather have someone else do? Are you focused on income-producing and time-saving activities? Are you in line with your passion? The things you find yourself doing that you enjoy so much that time seems to disappear--that is what you want to do more of.
Here are a few of my "life hacks" I developed to make my days and weeks more productive...
First of all, you must schedule in your 5 F's. Your personal life must be in order and must come first. If you need help with that, consider hiring a life coach. Have you heard of the Jar of Life story? If not, read this version here. I like this one because it has a funny twist at the end. Once you have your personal life rocks in place, move on to the smaller rocks and pebbles, and lastly the sand.
Next go back to that ideal business-life picture you created. Now look at your never-ending to-do list and figure out what on that list is supporting that vision. Anything not in line with your goals and business-life vision needs to go. Perhaps you have commitments from a time before that you feel obligated to continue but are no longer serving you? Maybe there is something on that list you hate doing but know it has to be done. Can someone else do it? And can they do it more efficiently? Remove those items from your list by deleting or delegating them. If it's no longer serving you, let it go. If someone else can do it, delegate it. This may mean you have to hire someone to do your accounting, update your web site, manage your social media, or even clean your house, but you need to realize you can't do it all.
Once you have eliminated the things that don't serve you and those that can be outsourced, you can schedule your tasks into your calendar. Remember, the 5 F's should be on the calendar first. Everything else gets scheduled in next. Take some time to realistic gauge how long each task takes. The next time you perform a task time yourself and put that time block on your calendar. In the direct selling industry there are lots of daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly tasks and activities we need to be on top of to run our business. I wrote a blog post about this over the summer with a list of tasks to schedule. Feel free to add to or change the list to suit your business needs.
Here are some final tips:
Focus on the hardest task or the highest income producing task first and schedule that in for 45 minutes to one hour before you do anything else (5 F's excluded, those always come first). Set a timer and DO NOT check your email or social media sites. I found an app called Focus@Will that will play brainwave based music for one hour while I work on this task and it really helps to keep me focused. I use the free version. There is a link here on this site with a few other apps I recommend.
Just before bed time, make a list of the 3 most important things you need to do tomorrow. Just 3 and write them down. When you have a plan to get something accomplished before you go to bed the night before, you are more likely to get it done and get up earlier. Try it.
Share an electronic calendar with your spouse, family members, or team members. If you use Google Calendar and have an iPhone, watch this video on how to privately share your calendar on someone else's phone.
Practice saying No. If you have trouble saying "no" try something like, "I don't think that is going to work for me at this time" or "I'm sorry, but that just won't work for me right now." When you know your goals and have a vision for your life and business, you know what works for you and what doesn't. When it doesn't work for you, it's okay to let people know.
Meditate. If you are new to meditation or having trouble quieting your mind, check out OmHarmonics. Their binaural beats meditation audio technology is the best I've tried. Not only has it helped reduce my stress, but I'm more focused and experience higher levels of creativity when I meditate regularly. Headspace is another great meditation app, and it's free!
Organize your household with a schedule and command center. There are some great ideas in this article from tipjunkie.com (the link is old but the ideas are still useful).
Here's a great infographic from SuperFastBusiness I discovered after writing this that highlights some great tips for using time for effectively in your business (click to enlarge):