Let’s face it. One of the most difficult areas of most people’s lives is time management. We all want enough time for our work, our family, and ourselves. So how do the most successful people manage their time?
I’ve been lucky enough to interview over 130 millionaires. They know the value of their time, and use it to the best of their ability. I’ve curated the top tips on their time management to help you have more time to work, and more time to play and be with your family.
So how do you stay productive when faced with a seemingly endless to-do list? Here are four awesome tips for greater productivity, straight from the millionaires themselves. At the end of each one, I provide an action item.
- Get everything out of your head. David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, shared this tip with me in an interview:
What are all the things you need to pay attention to? Getting all that out of your head, it’s really game-changing when you do that. It doesn’t solve your problems, but it makes them evident. It makes it a lot easier then to make good intuitive choices about where you ought to be putting your focus, and where’s it okay that you don’t put your focus today.
As I say, you need to know what you’re not doing before you feel comfortable about what you’re not doing. Getting a map of all the things you’re not doing, what are all the projects right now that you’re not doing if you’re listening or watching this? You better know what that is, or you won’t be present with anything that you’re doing.
Nothing is holding your attention hostage, and you’re able to give your full attention to whatever that is, whether that’s playing with the dog or writing a business plan. That’s really where you want to be, and that’s a critical component.”Action Item: Stop what you are doing right now (or put a time in your calendar right now) to write down everything you have in your head. Both personal and professional. Write it in your to-do list or on post-it notes—it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you write all of it down and then take the time to put it into your to do system.
- Actively procrastinate. Rob Rawson, CEO of TimeManagement.com and Staff.com, shared this tip in his interview with me:
I have a list of over two hundred tasks right now, all of those things could be good to do, but I can’t do all of them. I identify what are important tasks, but either way they are sitting there. A lot of them I will never do. That procrastination is so powerful. Then every week or every other week review that list, and ask, ‘Is that still necessary?’”Action Item: Don’t feel like you need to do everything on your list. Some items will sit on your lists for a while. That’s okay. They might not have the same urgency later.
- Have a purpose and plan for your day. JV Crum III, CEO & Founder of Conscious Millionaires Institute, shared this tip with me.
One of the most crucial parts of being productive in your work is to have a purpose for your day. Getting up in the morning and working without any goal or purpose can be a major downfall in accomplishing your goals. A person can start off the day getting ready to accomplish tasks, but without a clear purpose, you will more than likely not be as productive as you could be.”
Rob Rawson, said something similar:
I only use priorities for my today tasks. I don’t add email or any random task on my list. I do that in order to make sure I’m only doing the more crucial tasks. Right now I work on my highest priority first thing in the morning. I identify what will move me forward from the long term goals. I put that item top on my list.”Action Item: Either the night before, or the morning of, decide what your top tasks are, and stick to doing those first thing—before you get derailed by email or any other trivial task.
- Practice the Friday 15. This is a system that was introduced to me by my millionaire friend, Hugh Culver. It is a great way reset your week, even though you want to be relaxing or going home early. It sets you up for the next week, so you can be more productive.
[In this exercise] you only have fifteen minutes. The ﬁrst thing I do is look at my plan for the week. [When I do] I see this disaster that started out so beautifully organized. I got a lot of stuff done but a lot of times my list is longer than when I started.
So I looked at that and decided what it is that I can just ﬁnish in a couple of minutes. Because sometimes I just need to return a phone call, pay a bill, or change something on my blog. I get it done!
The second thing I look at is what I want to move to next week or I want to either delegate to the people that I outsource to or that I want to get rid of. So I delegate it or dump it.
Then the third thing is to create a new plan for next week. One of the mistakes we often make when we create a plan or a list is we put everything in there that we hope to do. But our expectations are too high. What I encourage people to do is keep it down to about a dozen things that are really critical for next week and that’s what I call your ﬂight plan. So, just like a pilot taking of, I now know where I need to land. So by Friday those need to be completed.
The last thing that I do is I clean up my area. I put stuff away. I get rid of clutter. I get rid of the Post-It notes, those three felt pens, two pens, and a pencil, because when I come in, I want to feel successful. And I never feel successful if I’m surrounded by clutter. Because clutter is not only a distraction—I look at it, and I think about it!—clutter reminds me I have not completed something.
So when I come in on Monday, I feel successful, I’ve got my ﬂight plan and I’m ready to go. So that’s why I call it your ‘Friday 15.’”Action Item: Action Item: This week, implement the Friday 15 and finish your week on a productive note.
You may not have the time to do all of these (since if you are reading this you are time starved!) But commit to one or two of these tips. I use them in my own life and have found my productivity increases when I manage my time, keep a clean environment, and live out my workweek with purpose.
When I feel in control of my time, instead of my time controlling me, I make better decisions and am more able to enjoy my life.
All the millionaires I have interviewed have one thing in common: they take responsibility for their time. As the ancient philosopher Lao Tzu said,“Time is a created thing. To say, ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘I don’t want to.’”