As our daily lives get busier and busier, overwhelm increases and can easily lead to stress. So, how do you handle life when there’s a mountain of things to do each day and none of it ever seems to get done?
There are plenty of methods for getting control over your life – organising tools, software, to-do lists, time management techniques – but here are a few simple things you implement today to start saving time and reducing overwhelm.
1: Cut Down on Phone Calls & Emails
Phone calls often end up being way longer than expected. As a serial phone-avoider, I don’t personally have to worry about this but I know many people that always seem to be on the phone. Do you need to pick up the phone so often? Limit your phone calls to only the times when it’s absolutely necessary. Do whatever you can through email and only use the phone when you really need to discuss something with someone.
It’s easy for email to sap your time too, so be mindful of back and forth emailing. If you’re arranging a meeting for example, give one or two preferred date(s) to make it easier for the other person. You could also consider an online booking system which can save heaps of time.
A great tip I heard from Elizabeth Emens is to add ‘NNR’ to the end of your emails or online messages. This stands for ‘No Need to Reply’ and is a great habit to help your colleagues and friends save time too.
2: Keep Meetings & Discussions Short
For meetings, create a clear agenda with a time limit and stick to it. Keep small talk to a minimum. When having an informal discussion, keep a goal in mind and focus on achieving that goal. Once achieved, wrap up the conversation.
This is especially useful for your personal and business boundaries too – if people know what to expect, they’ll be less likely to take advantage of your time (we all know a time vampire, right?).
3: Limit Email Time
Daily emails can seem endless. Set a time limit for how long you’ll spend on email during certain times of the day. For example, 30 minutes for morning emails, 15 minutes after lunch, and so on. Instead of reading the first message first, start with the most important and respond in order of priority.
Once emails are dealt with, delete or file accordingly to keep your inbox organised.
4: Avoid Social Media
Social media can be a serious time-waster. Stay off social media, turn off notifications, delete the app from your phone – whatever you need to do to remove the distraction. If you use social media to communicate, use only the chat function. For Facebook, you can download Messenger and leave the regular app off your phone. If you use it for business, set aside time and limit it just like with your emails.
It’s all too easy to get distracted by social media, so use it with a set goal in mind and you’ll save hours of time scrolling.
5: Go Off the Grid
When you need to focus on a task without distraction, seal yourself up in your home work space or office and keep away the outside world. Let your clients, friends and family know that you’re not to be disturbed for a set time period. This is a good idea when you’re doing strategic planning or anything else that requires serious concentration.
Leave your smart phone in another room to minimise tech distractions. You’ll be amazed at how much you can get done without the usual daily interference.
6: Time Manage Your To-Do List
For each item on your daily to-do list, set a maximum time limit. This is the most time you can spare for the task. Set a timer as you begin each task. This prevents one item from taking too long and pushing others off your list.
I’d suggest using a tool such as Forest App or the Pomodoro technique; both great ways to keep your focus sharp.
7: Run a Time Audit
A great way to start managing your time more efficiently is to conduct a time audit. This involves keeping a log of everything you do and how long it takes. You can do this for a few days or even a few weeks to see exactly how you’re spending your time. It’ll then be clear to you what you need to cut out – the results might surprise you!
8: Take Care of Yourself
Take care of yourself mentally and physically. Self-care can get put on the back-burner when we’re super busy but actually that’s the time when we need more, not less self-care.
Get plenty of sleep, eat well, manage overwhelm and stress, and stick to regular routines. If you maintain your health in this way, you’ll stay more focused and work more efficiently.
9: Take Breaks
Take many small breaks throughout the day to keep your focus. During these breaks, you may want to engage in some activity that’s just fun and relaxing. Spend 10 minutes grounding in your garden, get the sharpies out and colour in, or have a short walk outside.
Always look for parts of your day that you can trim, and you’ll find yourself working smarter with less stress.
Do you have any time-saving hacks which help you reduce overwhelm? Comment below.