You have more time than you think

I have two toddler daughters.  Three and a half and five years old.  They are master negotiators.

One of the things they negotiate hard on is extending bedtime.  It would go on forever if they sleep didn’t eventually win over.

Over the past couple of weeks my wife and I have found ourselves in a night-time “black hole.” It goes on and on and on and before we know it it’s 9 o’clock and our night got away from us.  And we’re left feeling frustrated, resentful and wondering what the hell happened.

What really happened?  We fell victims to what I call the time warp.

The time warp is that space in time where you set out to get something done but you get to the end of the day and realize not only did your “something” not get done, but the day is gone.  No more time left.

The time warp occurs because a task always expands to the amount of time allotted.

If you find that your day gets away from you, that there never seems to be enough time in the day, that you know you’re just not operating as efficiently as you can, it’s because you are feeding your own time warp. 

Breaking The Bedtime “Black Hole”

How did my wife and I get out from the losing end of our daughters’ endless nighttime negotiations?  We turned bedtime into a task and gave it a timeline.

Dinner at 5:30.  In the bath by 6:30.  Lights out by 7:30.  Period, end of story.

Sure, we still “negotiate” with our daughters and give them a sense of being in control, but now it happens inside our timeline.

And here’s the result: we still do all the same things we always do with our kids at night time.  They get a snack after bath.  Brush teeth.  Floss (yup, we floss our kids’ teeth, really).  Pajamas.  Books.  Ipad video.  Storytime.  Snuggle.

We do all the same things we used to do when our night stretched to 9 o’clock, but now we just do them more efficiently.  The time deadline forces us to be aware and thoughtful with our time.

Our kids still feel special and most importantly my wife and I get our nights back – a crucial part of our self-care that allows us to stay nourished and refueled so we can be great parents day after day.

Small Shift, Big Impact

If you want to maximize your productivity, you’ve got to be extremely intentional about how you spend every minute of your precious time.

A task will always expand to the amount of time allotted. 

So here’s the shift: start by putting a deadline on everything you do in your day.

Client meeting?  30 minutes.  Manage their expectations.  Tell them you have another appointment.

Realtor lunch?  45 minutes.  Clearing conditions on a file?  2 hours.  Make it a game.  Compete with yourself.  Next time, only an hour and forty five minutes.  Then an hour and a half.

Something powerful occurs when you create a deadline for a task and honor the time set aside: you get extremely resourceful and you consciously avoid distractions.

Calls come in; you let them go to voicemail.  Emails pop up; you force your eyes back to your task at hand.  Someone knocks on your door; you ignore.

It’s really amazing.  The most productive people on the planet understand the power of focus.  They get more done in a couple of hours than many do all day.

Before you know it, you’ll be time-blocking for things like eating and checking email, tasks that unconsciously eat up hours of people’s day.

So here’s the recap:

  1. Make a list of your tasks.
  2. Put a time deadline on each one.
  3. Put the task/time block in your calendar.
  4. Honor the time deadline.  Stop and move to the next task, even if you’re not finished.  This will force you to become more efficient and resourceful inside of each endeavor.

No more time warps.  Every ounce of increased efficiency means you get more minutes doing the things you love to do.

After all, this is your life.  Live it on your time schedule.

 

 

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