One of the biggest fears we have is not having enough time; enough time to finish a project, get an application written, or a proposal sent out. It's that nagging feeling that you might as well not even try because you'll probably run out of time. Or the realization that the deadline is at midnight, and here it's already 7pm, so why even bother? It's born out of procrastination but also causes procrastination. Have you ever said to yourself "I'm never going to get my materials together in time, so I might as well not even bother?"
Us, too. It happens. But how do you get out of that mindset or rut?
The key is realizing it is a mindset. Meaning it's in your mind. Anything that's in your mind, you can adjust. If you think about it, there are 2 kinds of time. There is clock time, which is standardized and given (60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day, etc.) and then there is the time you feel on any given day. This kind of time is completely based on perception, meaning an hour at the dentist can feel like an eternity, while watching your baby turn 18 can feel like the blink of an eye. So any tasks that you want to fit in for your practice or business can be organized with clock time, but their perception can be adjusted depending on your mental attitude towards them.
Step one is harnessing and organizing that clock time.
1. First, you need to know where all of your time is going to begin with. Grab a scheduler (or a calendar), and for one week, write down everything you do and how long it takes. Be honest, and see how much time the various parts of your business or practice take. (This is also a valuable exercise to see what things you're not even doing, even though you know you probably should be doing them). How much time during your week is spent with productive activities that are working towards your goals?
2. Goals? You know you have some, but are they really clearly spelled out for the next month, six months, or year? And we mean really clear, like you know exactly what the goal is, and how it's broken down into achievable tasks over the next few weeks? Next step: write out your goals, and then break them down into manageable pieces or steps.
3. Each piece of that goal should have time assigned to it. This is where a scheduler or calendar actually comes in really handy. A to-do list is great, but what happens is that it becomes longer and longer and then gets overwhelming. Take those to-dos and pencil them into a real schedule with real amounts of time assigned to them. That way you don't have to think about them and have them overwhelm you, unless they are the scheduled task in front of you for the next 30 minutes or hour. Keep that appointment with that task. If you do that, it will actually get crossed off your list! Amazing!
4. Take 10 or 20 minutes at the beginning of each day (or even the night before) to plan the day. Make sure all your scheduled goals are still on track and that the tasks you set for yourself are realistic to accomplish. At the end of your work day, take 10-20 minutes to go through that day's tasks and assess if you've actually accomplished them and if the process went smoothly. If it didn't, assess what went wrong and try to remedy it for next time. (For example, you set one hour to work on your writing, and you got nothing accomplished because you were feeling blocked and spent one hour staring at a blank screen. Next time, start the task with a list of questions you can answer to help you get the writing process started. Start simply, with a question like "What is this project about?")
5. Take a minute before each task to decide what result you want to achieve. This will help you know what success looks like before you start. And it will also slow time down. Take a minute after each task to determine whether your desired result was achieved.
This all seems like a lot of work, probably. But once you try it and figure out a way to work it into your routine, time will feel a lot less scary and you'll actually feel like you have a grasp of it–and can possibly even manage it!
Good luck, and let us know how it goes!