For years, I’ve been working with clients all over the world to create lasting change in their careers, relationships, health, and happiness. While each person’s story and circumstances are unique, I’ve found that the challenges that prevent people from achieving their goals are surprisingly similar. We all want change, but we don’t have time to take action.
So what sets the truly successful individuals apart? They know this simple truth: Time management isn’t about finding time — it’s about making time.
These are the top three time management challenges that people face, and how you can overcome them.
1. “I’m not getting the important things done.”
I’m willing to bet that there have been times when you worked all day, but at the end of the day, you felt frustrated that you didn’t get anything important done. You spent time putting out fires and taking care of others, but not getting any big things out of the way. Am I right?
The secret is that achieving your goals isn't about how much you get done; it's about doing the right stuff.
This comes down to prioritizing and learning to triage your to-do list. You should divide your to-do list into four categories and take daily action on your tasks. For example:
- High Importance; Urgent. These are the big-ticket items that relate to your goals or the most important things in life. Example: Make appointment with accountant to file taxes.
- High Importance; Not Urgent. These are priority items that don’t have a looming deadline. Example: Make plans to see cousins.
- Low Importance; Urgent. Often, these are the annoying day-to-day tasks that have a date they must be completed by. Example: Return shoes to store.
- Low Importance; Not Urgent. These are the items that you’d like to get done at some point, but the timing isn’t vital. Example: Buy book a friend recommended.
2. “I don’t have the momentum to keep going with my goals.”
Each day, decide on the three things — big or small — you want to achieve that day that will move you toward your goals and give you the most bang for your buck. If three seems like a lot to start, pick fewer. If it doesn’t seem like enough, consider anything you do after those three to be extra credit. This will ensure that you’re getting the right things done and building on your track record of success.
At the end of the day, check in with yourself and ask, “Did I accomplish what I wanted to? Did I do the right tasks in the right order?” Completing a few of your top items is more important than completing 10 pointless ones.
3. “I’m paralyzed. I can’t do it.”
After dividing your goals into bite-sized tasks, it can still be hard to take action. This is especially true when we’re trying something new. It’s all about developing a track record of success and building your “self-trust muscle.”
Acknowledge that there are times when you’ve felt paralyzed, but were able to push through the discomfort and take action anyway. Write out a list of times you felt stuck, but managed to move forward. It can range from personal issues, to work, to anything else. Ask yourself, “What accomplishments am I most proud of in life?” Look at this list every time you feel self-doubt start to rise. Personally, I keep this list as a virtual Post-it note on my laptop. Every day, this almanac of my achievements cheers me on.
Want more? Sign up for my free video training series to Take Back Your Time.
Amita Patel is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.