Ever heard the song “Time Won’t Wait” by Jamiroquai? While not specifically referring to productivity, the gist of the chorus, that time isn’t slowing down to accommodate you personally, is one that is wholly applicable. You see, an integral part of getting out of the distracted state and into the productive one is mastering how you think about time and how you use the concept of time scarcity to hold yourself to account. Coupled with a strong sense of routine, you’ll have the ability to power through the unimportant and zero-in on the zone with increased clarity.
Step #1: Embrace Time Scarcity
How many hours are there in a day? How many of those hours can you reasonably function at your peak and get important stuff done? Not that many, right? Time is a precious resource and should be treated as such. One of the biggest things that enables distractions is an underlying thinking that our time is infinite. If you start embracing the concept of time scarcity, though, that the hours in the day are a commodity and you have to spend them wisely, your mindset will likely shift to the point where you automatically take steps to maximize what you can get done.
Think about it. You don’t just throw away your money frivolously, right? Why would you do the same with your time? Think about the value of your time, the return on investment you get when you perform different tasks. This will enable you to cut out what’s wasteful and concentrate on what’s fruitful. Using an online time clock to help visualize what time you have available is a great way to drive the point home. If you’re running a company, have a team of people you work with or just want to keep track of your time these free timesheets can help you out.
Step #2: Create Your Routine
It’s prime advice given by productivity experts, authors, and self-help gurus alike. The reason they recommend it is because it works, and it’s a direct result of realizing that your time is finite. Going back to our “money” analogy, you can think of it as a budget for your waking hours. You’ve only got so many to spend, so you have to plan how you do that to get the best returns.
This will require a bit of introspection. You have to make a realistic assessment of yourself and gauge how quickly you’ll be able to work on different tasks, then allot your time accordingly. Prioritize what you need to do, and give the most important tasks a preference over the least important tasks.
Will there be interruptions? Yes, of course, but when you have a routine, you’re more cognizant of how precious your schedule is, and even if you need to bend it slightly, you’ll be more capable of compensating.
Step #3: Think Big, Work Small
This is akin to that old phrase, “think globally, act locally.” The big picture is what you should be focused on, but you should realize that the smaller actions are what get you there. You can’t hope to accomplish the main goal in one fell swoop, so break it up into smaller tasks that are more feasible.
A great example of this is trying to do startup fundraising. You can’t just snap your fingers and have the money you need appear, nor can you tackle everything at once to make your dream a reality. You have to identify the specific actions that will get you to your destination, then engage them methodically, one-by-one, until you reach your goal.