It’s time to put a plan into action to get focused, maximise your productivity and manage your time better. The following steps are meant to do just that, so take some time to execute them one by one. Remember, the goal here is not to work more; it’s to use your time better.

Step 1: Realise the importance of time

We all tend to have that mindset of “I’ll just deal with it later” when there’s something unpleasant that has to be done. The unfortunate side effect of this kind of attitude is that it just adds unnecessary pressure and stress to your life, and more importantly, nothing ever gets done. There will always be more to do; this is an unfortunate fact about the fast pace of our lives. So take a minute to realise the importance of time in your life. It’s something that, once spent, you can never get back. Every new day, you are given a fresh 24 hours to use however you see fit. Use this time to spend on things that are important to you. Think about what you want to incorporate into your life: is it time with your kids, exercise, client relationships, training your staff, getting a degree? Then schedule time every day to dedicate to that goal. When you have incorporated what you value into every day, how can every day not be a success?

Step 2: Set a goal

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery Needless to say, it’s important to have goals in order to avoid just floating through life (unless that’s your thing). But goals are also important to keep you motivated. You have to think about why you’re doing something. This doesn’t necessarily have to mean writing down your life goals right now (unless you already have them all figured out). You can break it up into five-year goals, one-year goals, or even monthly goals. These shouldn’t be goals you think you should accomplish, or things other people are pushing you to do, but things that you want to do. Thinking about goals that are important to you will be that extra kick in the rear you need to achieve them. So think about the timeframe you want to work in, and write down your goals. You can also stick them up somewhere as reminders to keep you motivated.

Step 3: Get organised

“For every minute spent organising, an hour is earned.” – Benjamin Franklin

Now it’s time to get organised. This comes more naturally to some folk than others, but it’s very easy to do if you can just take the few minutes to do it. You’ll feel a lot better afterwards too.

Make a to-do list with every task/activity that you need to get done. Most of us will have one of these already, in some form or another. If you don’t have everything written down, don’t worry, you can add things as you remember them and as you get new things to do. It’s very important to write things down if you want to stay neatly organised. It’ll also save you time wasted trying to remember what it was that you had to do.

Your to-do list can take many forms: a diary, your phone, a desk calendar (which is very convenient when you want to jot something down), or just stick a magnetised memo pad to your fridge – whatever gives you the easiest access, so you’re not tempted to leave writing things down until later. You might think you’ll be able to remember it, but most times people just remember that they were supposed to remember something, not what it actually was.

However, some people find to-do lists only add unnecessary pressure. An alternative to this form of organisation is to rely solely on a calendar that dictates when you should do what in order to get everything done. You can break down your day into as small as 15-minute increments.

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