You know the feeling…a million things going around in your mind and a to-do list as long as your arm.  It seems that there’s a never ending list because no sooner do you cross one thing off, then another task gets tacked onto the end.  And don’t forget the usual running around and routines that must be fitted into every day…work, sport, kids’ activities, appointments…is there time in there for cooking?  We often feel guilty that we’ve not achieved what we’d set out to do and blame our busy schedule for the reason we aren’t getting enough done!

There’s a difference between busy people and driven people:

Busy people are busy doing “stuff”.  Driven people are busy doing “stuff that matters”.

As a single parent who runs a business, I work hard to achieve as much as I can each day.  It’s a constant juggling act but one that I’m pretty good at!

Tip #1 Manage your priorities

If you have a lot to achieve and a limited time to do it in, the way to successfully accomplish everything is to prioritize the tasks.  There are often simple or more fun things to do, but are they important or helping you to achieve your set tasks or goals for the day?

  1. Focus on your goals and things you want to accomplish.  The tasks you set for yourself each day should focus on moving you towards that goal.  Beware of distractions or “shiny objects” that appear.  These are often more fun or appealing but not often helpful.
  2. Go through your list of “things to do” and decide what’s important, what’s urgent and what’s simply there (but not really important, nor urgent)
  3. Rate your “things to do” like this:  A tasks = Urgent and important, B tasks = Important but not urgent, C tasks = Urgent but not important, and D tasks = Not important and not urgent.
  4. Now go through all your ‘A’ tasks and decide what order they each need to be done and number them, e.g. A1, A2, A3.  Continue to do that for each of the other categories, e.g. B1, B2, C1, C2, C3, D1, D2, D3, D4, etc.
  5. Complete each task in the order of priority, meaning that no ‘B’ tasks should be done until all ‘A’ tasks are complete.  And certainly no ‘D’ tasks should be done until all the A, B and C tasks have been achieved!

Tip #2 Manage your time

There are only so many hours in a day, so we need to make sure we use them wisely.  If you’re on holiday and can throw your watch away for a few days — excellent!  Otherwise, you need to keep a close eye on the clock.

  1. Set yourself a realistic time limit for accomplishing tasks (and stick to it).  Even set yourself a timer or alarm and be aware of the minutes ticking by.
  2. Use a diary or scheduler to keep track of what you need to do or where you need to be.  Get it out of your head and onto paper (or digital device!).
  3. Make a prioritized to-do list every day and give each task a time frame.  If there are too many items on the list and not enough hours, something needs to go or be rescheduled for another day.

Tip #3 Manage yourself

The best way to be in control of your day is to be in control of yourself.  This means being in control of your emotions, your decisions, your thoughts and your well-being.

  1. Make yourself a priority.  If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take proper care of others and you won’t be the most effective version of you.  Always schedule some YOU time into your day.
  2. Be your own supervisor — check up on yourself and hold yourself accountable.  If you achieve your goals, you’re the one who will be most proud.  If you don’t achieve your goals…you are the one to blame!
  3. Always strive to improve yourself…physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally.  Always have goals in every area of your life and remember, you are NEVER too old to learn new tricks!
  4. Maintain your sense of calm even when things around you are hectic.  If you don’t know how, seek out and learn ways that help you do this, e.g. techniques, meditations, breathing exercises.  I love picturing the image from this sentence, “Behave like a duck…calm and unruffled on the surface but paddling like heck underneath!”.

If you want something done, ask a busy driven person!