Why, hello, sweet buttercup! 🙂
As you already know, we are all gifted with the same 24h in each day of our lives.
However, some people are quite content with it, while others seem to need more time in a day to make everything work.
Since you’re reading this post, I guess you fall into category #2.
(pssst… I’ll let you on a little secret – we’ve all been there at some moment…)
You may have thoughts about people in category #1 which resemble something like “Ahhh, the lucky bastards!“
(well, alright, maybe not the last word. maybe?)
But is luck the real reason for this?
I assume you experienced something like this probably more than once:
You woke up, had ambitious plans for the day, thought you had it all perfectly planned out, but somehow, without even realizing, a day has gone by and your to-do list is not even halfway done. 🙁
… (an empty feeling of an unproductive day)
A swirl of questions come to your mind, such as:
“Well, what to heck went wrong in there?!”
“It all seemed fine!”
“What’s the secret?”
“Why am I not among those who make it work?”
Chances are, it’s not the time that’s causing you difficulties.
Some of the reasons below might be the culprits.
Let’s see what those reasons are…
(aka – wanting & putting too much on your plate)
Let’s be honest. How many times did you put too many items on your to-do list for one day?
More often than you’d like, I guess…
So does it really come as a surprise when you don’t have the time to finish (or sometimes even start) all those tasks?
It’s mission impossible right from the start!
There, there, now…
I don’t want you to feel bad about it.
I know how it is. I too get carried away from time to time.
Like the time when I thought I’ll be able to finish the basic household tasks (meaning cooking, cleaning, tidying the house, bathing kids…), write a post, be engaged on social media, and go out for a walk with the kids all after coming back from my lab-job.
Ha, ha, ha… How silly and naive I was…
However, there is a way where you can have a long to-do list, not complete the tasks on it, and still feel good about your day.
(if you want to know more about it, read Your To Do List Should Have The Tasks You Know You Won’t Achieve -And Why This Is An Excellent Idea)
What to do instead
If this is the scenario which bugs you the most, the thing which only matters, in the end, is whether you finished the most important task or not.
And for the future, remember – pick only a few tasks to deal with in a single day.
I know I sure will! 😉
Not being productive
Let’s do a little bit of this, and a little bit of that, and also this tiny thing, oh, and this one…
What? Dinner time already?!
You’re no doubt a busy person.
But are you being productive?
Post When It Comes To Productivity, Are You Making This Critical Mistake (Plus 5 Action Steps To Fix It Right Away) gives some insights on the subject.
You see, being busy doesn’t have to be equal to being productive.
And there’s another thing – when we tend to switch between multiple activities we appear to be productive.
(we “multitask”, as most of us believe)
But the reality is that we’re only starting a lot and not completing almost anything.
The outcome is far from having a productive day.
(there is, however, a way to successfully pull it off – and you can read about it in The Effective Way To Multitask (Yes, It IS Possible!))
The action you should take
Start working on a task and focus only on it for as long as you can.
Consider trying out the Pomodoro technique.
(if not using it already)
Alternatively, switch to some other activity when you begin to lose concentration and come back to it again after you feel recharged.
And by that I really mean an activity, not some other task.
Here’s a list of my favorite self-care activities which keep my energy level throughout the day.
The bottom line – try to finish what you started, even if it’s just one thing in a day.
Not being organized
When I was a kid and my grandparents moved, I was (almost completely) horrified to see that the new place looked exactly like the previous.
The stuff, the arrangement… everything!
My personal opinion was next: “This is so boring! Couldn’t they be even a little bit creative?”.
As I got older I understood why it was so.
Imagine this scenario.
“Darn! Where is it? I could swear I put it here.”
(the necessity of an item in question doesn’t have to be additionally emphasized, it just floats in the air around…)
5 or 10 minutes later (or even more if you want to make this play a tragedy), you’ve found the much-needed item.
“Wait! What exactly I wanted to do next?”
Some more time is then spent on regaining focus and concentration back so you could start what you initially planned out to do and getting into “the zone”.
A couple of those in a day (and to be even more fun, at random times), and you have a perfect recipe for the leakage of time.
(aka “where did the time go?” question)
Now, I don’t believe my grandparents did that because they wanted to be hyper-productive (actually, they couldn’t care less about it), but the bottom line is that when you often move things or switch their places, you do tend to search for them longer than usual.
And, yes, regardless of your feeling about productivity – time goes by.
What to do to prevent this
You don’t have to be an organizing Nazi (went overboard with this one?), but developing a little bit better organization habits will do wonders in this case.
It’s nice if you can organize… like… everything!
(a personal wooow and kudos from me in that case)
However, it’s quite enough that you only organize the things you frequently use.
Oh, and, of course, don’t forget to put them back in place!
Problem solved! 🙂
Waiting for the “right moment”
“I’ll start in a second, just to do/see this first.”
And then some other thing comes along, and the third…
Or you feel you simply can’t start without the inspiration, you know, the I’m-not-in-the-creative-mood-at-the-moment, so you’re waiting for it to come.
Meanwhile not doing anything special…
Well, if you wait for the stars to be perfectly aligned (aka “the right moment”) so you could start working on what you had in mind, chances are you could wait for a long time.
The only thing you’ll be getting from it is spending the time.
Not what you had in mind, I guess?
Oh, and one more thing to add – does it look to you like procrastination has something to do with it?
Your next action
When the time for work comes – start doing it.
Regardless of whether or not it’s “the right” moment, are you in the mood or not.
Hopefully, sooner than later, things will get easier.
Even if the beginning wasn’t stellar enough (according to your criteria, at least), you can always go back to it at a later time and polish it up.
To combat any reason which might cause you to procrastinate, visit What Is Procrastination Whispering To You? Plus Quick Action Tips To Snap Out Of It and finish this battle as a winner.
Being interrupted (a bit too often)
At work or at home interruptions are an inevitable part of life.
(if you somehow managed to avoid them, please let me know how you made it possible!)
You see, any interruption forces your mind to shift from one activity/task to another and back.
Maybe you even need to physically move from one place to another in the process.
Whichever the case, afterward you spend some time to pick up where you were so you could continue with it.
(and if the disturbance was followed with an unpleasant feeling/discussion, it will take an even longer period of time for you to truly get back and focus on your work)
A couple of those – and you can wave your day (an unproductive) “Bye-bye!”.
How to deal with it
First of all, try to determine/define the hours when it’ll be the least likely for you to be interrupted.
(needless to say, those are the hours you should put your best work effort in)
When a tide of interruptions starts to emerge, maybe it’s the best option to deal with them in bulk.
Even check if something else might interrupt you a few moments later, so you’d be ahead of it.
(this reminds me a little bit of “an attack is the best defense”)
This might look/sound silly, but why not give it a try? Put a “Do not disturb” sign and see how it goes.
(hey, you got nothing to lose!)
If you work from home, and kids tend to be the biggest interruptors, check out the post Getting The Work Done With The Kids Around As A WAHM While The Kids Are Awake.
On the other hand, if being interrupted by various urgencies at work, take a look at this – Is Urgent Really Urgent? Points To Consider When Someone Bombs You With An “Urgent” Request.
Not focusing on the most important, most meaningful task
You can do hundreds of tasks in a day (yes, even literal if any tiny thing is counted!), and still feel like you had “wasted” a day.
And then again, you can work on one or two tasks and feel satisfied, productive and fulfilled at the end of the day.
What makes the difference?
It’s the benefit you get out of the achieved tasks.
If the work you do mainly consists of the routine tasks which don’t challenge or stimulate you to step out of your comfort zone (at least from time to time), you probably feel like you’re stuck in a rut, begin to feel demotivated (go figure!), and you’ll eventually question yourself “What to hell do I spend my days on?”.
However, if the work you do has long term (of course, positive) consequences, you’ll without a doubt count that day as one well spent – and be glad about it.
Determine what tasks/actions are the ones which will give the maximum results.
Think about them this way: “If I do _____ today, how much would it help me to get closer to my goal (target, end-point, desired outcome; whatever you may call it)?”.
If the answer is “Not much” (and you are in a position to choose), a delegate/dismiss action might be sufficient to do the trick.
Read more about this process in Your Key To Productivity – The Three Things You Need To Know.
Don’t forget to write down your most important tasks in your planner.
(there’s a reason why a “top 3” section is placed there 😀 )
… And that’s about it for now. 🙂
Hope at least some of the things listed here helped you get a clearer insight into what may be the underlying reason for I-don’t-have-enough-time problem.
Spread the word if you found it useful! (or simply to say – if you liked it, please, do share) 🙂