We had many different jobs through our teens and twenties and the one thing that all of those jobs had in common, is that there was always a boss or a manager who would tell us what to do and when to do it. We obviously needed the paycheck, so we would do what we were told whether we felt like it or not. In our late twenties we started our own business because we wanted to be free of the job world. Being business owners took learning some new skills. There was no longer someone telling us what to do or when to do it, so we had to learn how to be our own boss. We had to ditch the employee mindset and apply the owner / manager mindset to our tasks, time, and decisions. We basically had to learn to boss ourselves around and follow through on the tasks at hand whether we felt like it or not.
Over time, it became easier and easier to manage our time and our emotions. We found that one of the best ways to use our time efficiently was a time management strategy called “time-blocking.” Time-blocking has taught us to become accountable to the intentional effort we put into the things that we need to get done. Both Elon Musk and Bill Gates are well known for having high levels of productivity along with the ability to maximize each minute of the day. What’s their secret? Time-blocking.
Pick a Time and Stick to It
Time-blocking is all about … well, blocking out a specific time to get a specific thing done. A to-do list reminds you what you need to do, which is very important, but a time-block tells you when to do it. If you say, “I’m going to do X, Y, Z today,” then it usually takes all day and can be very stressful. But if you say, “I’m going to get X done in between 3:00 and 4:00, Y done between 4:00 and 5:00, and Z done between 5:00 and 6:00,” then what may have stressed you out all day now got done in three intentional hours of focused effort. And we all know it feels great to get things done!
When you create a time-block to get something done, do your best to stay focused on the task at hand. We know that life is busy and emergencies pop up, so you may have to occasionally move a time-block to a different block of time, but try to only do it once. Don’t make excuses and keep pushing the task to another time or day. Procrastination is the enemy of success.
Prioritize Your Tasks
Have you ever heard someone say, “put the big rocks in first”? That refers to a well-known metaphor that explains how to organize your priorities. Pretend that you have an empty jar in front of you. Next to the jar is a pile of big rocks, a pile of pebbles, and a pile of sand. Your goal is to get everything inside the jar. If you put the sand in first, then the pebbles, you will not have room for the big rocks. But, if you start by putting the big rocks in first, then shake in the pebbles, and let the sand fill up all the left over space in the jar, it should all fit without a problem.
When you look at your to-do list for the day, prioritize your tasks in order of importance and make sure they’re relevant to your goals. See the “most important” tasks as the big rocks. Create a time-block to get the big rocks taken care of first, then the pebbles, and last the sand. Following this approach will help you get so much more done and will also help reduce your stress levels.
Emotions Are Your Gas Pedal
Learning to manage your emotions and get things done whether you feel like it or not, is an important part of building success. I’m sure there are many days where you are not excited to get up and go to work, but you do it anyways. Why? Well it’s probably because you need your pay check and have made the decision to do what you need to do to get paid. You don’t look at “going to work” as an option, you look at it as a responsibility. When you look at your time-blocks as a responsibility over an option, you are much more likely to get it done.
We all have feelings and emotions but the questions is, are you allowing your feelings and emotions to steer you in the wrong direction? If you are allowing your feelings and emotions to be your steering wheel, you might find yourself off the road or even crashing and burning.
If you find yourself procrastinating or not in the mood to do something you know you need to do, simply choose to respond differently to those feelings. Instead of allowing those emotions to steer you in the wrong direction, keep your hands on the steering wheel and HIT THE GAS! Take responsibility to get the task done regardless of your feelings. Hit the gas, increase your intensity, and get to work. Commit to that time block and GET IT DONE.
We know that learning to be your own boss and managing your emotions can be challenging, but if we learned to do it, so can you! Hopefully some of the time-blocking and other tips we shared in this blog will help you to be more productive than ever before. So now it’s time to plan your work, work your plan, and make it a great day!