Episode 50: How to Use Your Time Wisely for Maximum Productivity

Does it ever feel like time slips through the cracks?

Maybe you sit down to work on Monday morning, and all of a sudden, the entire day is gone.

Or maybe you begin the week with a big list of projects to complete, but by the time Friday rolls around, you have no idea what you accomplished or how the days went by so quickly.

Or perhaps the weeks, months, (even years?), simply fly back at an alarmingly fast rate.

If so, you’re not alone.

In fact, I’ve been feeling the exact same way over the past several weeks. So much so, that it inspired me to get curious and figure out what I can do to change things up.

In this week’s episode, I share with you what I’ve been doing to help me use my time more wisely, live each day with intention, and ensure that I complete the important projects on my list each day.

Are you ready to find out how?

Great! Check out episode 50 below, or stream it from your favorite podcasting app!

Prefer to read? Keep scrolling for the entire podcast transcript.

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST HERE!

IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL DISCOVER…

  • Why time is our most valuable asset 
  • How to recognize where your time is going each day
  • Strategies to use your time more intentionally to both increase productivity make more time for you

LINKS FROM THE PODCAST

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How to Use Your Time Wisely for Maximum Productivity (Transcript)

Hey friends, welcome to the podcast. Episode 50. What’s going on with you? How are things in your neck of the woods? 

I am, quite frankly, in a little bit of denial that we just had the 4th of July holiday this past weekend in the United States. I mean, I know I always think the time goes quickly… But this year is just bizarre. 

And of course, you don’t need me to tell you that. But honestly, part of my brain is still convinced that we’re in April. I don’t really know how the time is flying by so quickly, despite the fact that we have so much sameness day in and day out. And perhaps that’s actually why. We don’t have a lot of change to break up our days and our weeks and our months. 

Who knows. Maybe I’m the only one feeling this way. Maybe there are some of you who feel like the days are dragging by slower than ever.

Wherever you are at in terms of time right now, I think that today’s episode will be useful for you in terms of helping you think more intentionally about how you want to use your time. More specifically, it will help you decide on purpose what you want to do with each of the 24 hours in your day. 

Time is Our Most Valuable Asset

Because the truth is this – and I think I’ve mentioned this on the podcast before – but I really believe that time is our most valuable asset. And I realize that might sound strange at first since we often jump to money as our most valuable asset. 

But in reality, time is the one thing that you can’t get more of. It’s the one thing you can’t create more of. If you spend money, you can always create more. But when you spend time, you can’t do the same. Once you spend it, it’s gone. It’s like a non-renewable resource.

And I don’t mean for this to sound all gloom and doom. That’s certainly not my intention. But I am sharing this perspective because as I’ve reflected on it the past week, it’s helped me start thinking more deliberately about how I want to show up each day. It’s helped me consider how I want to spend my time each day. What are the things that I want to do with each of the 24 hours that I have every single day?

The Value of Time

Because I think for many of us, and I know this is true for my ADHD clients and myself, that time is something we all want more of. Just think about it, how often do you hear somebody saying, “Gosh, I sure wish I had less time to work on this thing. I wish I had less time to work toward my goal or build my business or finish this project at work. I wish I had less time to prepare for this presentation or get ready for this event or that event.” Never, right?

And then compare that to the opposite. How often do you hear somebody saying, “Wow… I wish I had a few more hours in the day. I wish I had just one more week to work on this thing. Or I wish I had just a few more days to get this thing or that thing in order. ” My guess is that you hear the latter option quite a bit more often.

Now, are there exceptions to this? Of course. Of course, there are times when we might wish we had last time. But generally speaking, we are searching for more time.

And again, this is because time is so incredibly valuable.

So I invite you to spend a little bit of time thinking about why time is valuable for you. 

How To Manage Your Time Productively

Once I started thinking more carefully about time and the value I place on it, I also started thinking more carefully about how I am managing my time. I started considering how I am spending my time each day. Because if time is my most valuable asset, I need to think about managing it just as I would manage my money. I need to be intentional about how I am managing my time or spending my time. Otherwise, it slips through the cracks as the days and the weeks and the months pass by, which is exactly what I’ve noticed as I reflect on the fact that we are already into July.

So after you think about the value of time for you, I also encourage you to reflect on your thoughts about time. What are the stories that you tell yourself about the time you have each day? Do you often tell yourself that you have plenty of time? Or are you telling yourself that you don’t have enough time? Do you tell yourself you are far too busy? Maybe you’re constantly telling yourself there’s never enough time in the day or you think you’re going to run out of time. Get curious about your thoughts concerning time.

Your Thoughts About Time

As we know, those thoughts that we think on repeat will impact the results that we create in our lives. 

For example, if I’m thinking to myself, “there’s never enough time in the day.” I’m going to feel super overwhelmed. And when I feel overwhelmed, I do the most counterproductive thing in the world, which is procrastinate. 

So I go on social media when I feel overwhelmed. I get lost in my inbox when I’m overwhelmed. Or I do all the easy stuff on my to-do list, rather than the important things that are actually going to move me closer toward my long-term goals. 

And of course, when I fill my day with procrastination, there’s never enough time in the day. Because I’m not working on what I need to do. So of course, I’m going to run out of time.

If on the other hand, you think to yourself, “I always have plenty of time.” Or “I always get everything done on time.” Maybe that thought makes you feel certain. And when you’re feeling that sense of certainty, you look at your to-do list, and you dive in and get to work. You don’t experience that familiar overwhelm, because your brain is focused on the thought that you always get everything done on time. Are you always have plenty of time. So when you do those things, you’re creating a situation where you get everything done.

The Circumstance Is The Same

So again, I cannot stress enough the importance of knowing your thoughts about time. Because with both examples that I just shared with you, the amount of time we have stays the same. The circumstance doesn’t change. If I am looking at 5 things on my to-do list, and I think to myself I’m never going to get this done, I’ll get stuck in overwhelm, I’ll distract myself, and I won’t get it done. 

But if I look at that same list and I think to myself, “I always get everything done on time.” I’m going to get started because I’m feeling certain. I know exactly what to do. And I know I’ll have enough time to do it.

Where Is Your Time Going?

Now as you think about how you want to spend your time, another thing I think is really important is to understand where your time is going right now. How are you using your time on a regular basis? 

And to answer this question, I invite you to take a few minutes after this podcast and think about everything you did over the last 24 hours. Take 3 minutes and write down everything that you did. 

Exercise Part 1

It doesn’t matter if it was a working day or not. Just trace back the last 24 hours and record every little thing you did. And I’m not just talking about the big projects and items on your list. I’m talking about waking up, going for a walk, getting ready, eating meals, going on social media, talking with a friend, texting your mom, watering the lawn, ordering groceries online, etcetera. Challenge yourself to fully explore what you did over the last 24 hours.

And as you look at that list, what stands out to you? What are your thoughts about this list? Do you like how you spent your time? If you could go back in time, would you spend it differently? If so, what would you do? And why? I find these questions are so powerful because they really raise our awareness of how we’re spending our time.

Exercise Part 2

And in fact, the second part of this exercise really drives this idea home, which is spending some time writing down what your best 24 hours would be. If you could take the next 24 hours to do whatever you wanted. If you could choose the perfect day for you, what would you choose? What would go on your calendar for the day? And again be as specific as possible. Don’t skimp on the details.

Now, why am I having you do this? Basically, I think it’s a really powerful way to help you recognize how closely you are living into your ideal life. Are you creating time for the things that you want in your life? Because after creating your ideal 24 hours, I encourage you to compare those two days. Are there many connections there?

Now, I realize that you probably can’t live your best 24 hours every day. But I am also willing to bet that you aren’t living your current days with as much intention as you would like. If you’re like me, you might find yourself going through the motions a bit — and especially if you’re listening to this in real-time with the pandemic when everything is the same day in and day out — without asking yourself, are these the things I want to be doing with my time? I have 24 hours every day, what do I want to do with them? How do I want to spend my time?

Time Wasting Culprits

Because chances are, when you look at the past 24 hours, you may see some things you’re not particularly excited about. In fact, you might even see some things on that list that you would consider wasting time. Maybe you see a lot of time scrolling Instagram or watching too much Netflix. Maybe you find yourself working too much – that’s what I found for myself when I did this exercise.

Or maybe you find yourself spending your time in other ways that are a little more sneaky, or might even feel necessary, but when you examine them more closely, they really aren’t. 

Sneaky Time Wasters

So these are things like wasting our time stuck in indecision and confusion. Maybe you’re trying to make a decision over something, and you spend countless hours going back and forth and back and forth trying to make a decision, telling yourself there is a right decision to make, rather than making the decision, moving forward, and having your back.

Maybe you are wasting your time judging yourself or judging other people. Or maybe you are simultaneously on Facebook scrolling while judging other people about what they’re doing or what they shouldn’t be doing right now. And you’re using your time for judgment rather than focusing on what you want to be doing with your own time right now and thinking intentionally about how you want to show up yourself. 

I was working with a client this past week who shared that she gets stuck in regret. She spends time thinking back to things she wishes she would have done or should have done differently. 

Maybe we find ourselves getting stuck in overwhelm, and we loop over and over and over in a state of worry as we ask ourselves, “what if this happens?” and “what if this happens?” and “what if this happens?” I’m so stressed and so overwhelmed and I don’t have enough time.

And as we’ve talked about on other podcast episodes, these emotions of worry, of indecision, of regret, of overwhelm, these are emotions that keep us stuck. They are indulgent emotions. They allow us to spin out without moving forward, or they keep us doing actions that don’t create the results we want in our lives. 

Regret

Just think about it. Think about when you’re stuck in regret over something you wish you would have said or wouldn’t have said or would have done or wouldn’t have done. If you’re like me, you ruminate over and over in that feeling of regret. You’re living in the past, you’re stuck in “shoulds,” and you’re not living in the moment. You’re not enjoying what’s right in front of you. And you’re arguing with reality. You’re arguing with what did happen. So if you did say “that thing,” and you’re telling yourself you shouldn’t have, that feels terrible. 

But what if instead of getting stuck in regret, we learn from it, and we move forward? 

Or maybe you’re stuck in regret about not participating in an activity or a call or an opportunity. And you’re telling yourself you completely missed out on something and you totally regret not doing it. The reality is that you are once again stuck in the past. You’re completely missing out on your life right now, because you can’t focus on anything else but your feelings of regret in the past. 

So rather than getting stuck, try asking yourself, how was it perfect that you didn’t take that opportunity or take that call? Why was it meant to happen that way? What can you learn from it? And how can you move forward today to create a result you want?

Indecision and Confusion 

Or let’s say you are stuck in indecision. You really want to grow your business further, but you’re not sure if you should start a podcast or YouTube channel. Or you don’t know if you should launch a course or do live trainings. Or maybe you’re stuck on your brand colors for your website. 

Whatever it is, you find yourself spinning out in indecision. You go back and forth. You reach out to tons of different people to get their opinions. And you keep looking for further confirmation or someone to tell you that “this way” or “that way” is quote-unquote the “right decision.” 

But the reality in this situation is that when you’re stuck trying to make up your mind, you don’t do anything. You don’t build your business at all. Instead, time slips by as you feel confused and frustrated, rather than making a decision, following through, and having your own back on that decision. And then if it doesn’t go the way you intended, you learn from that situation, you pivot, and you move forward.

Do These Resonate

So there are so many different ways that we find ourselves wasting time with these indulgent emotions. Can you hear yourself in any of these situations? I know I’ve been in both examples that I just mentioned in terms of regret and indecision – and as a side note – there’s nothing wrong if you’ve been there. Honestly, we all have. It’s all part of being a human. 

But what I think is important, and what I want to stress here, is being aware of what’s going on. I think it’s really valuable to know how you’re spending your time because then you can decide on purpose whether you want to keep showing up that way. You can decide whether you want to keep spending your valuable time doing what you’re doing.

Make More Time

Now, on the other side of the coin, we also have thoughts and feelings that inspire action, which in turn, seem to create more time or save us time. 

Make Decisions

And one of the most powerful ways that you can make more time is by making decisions and having your back on them. Make a decision, move forward, and adjust as necessary.

Create A Plan

The second way to make more time in your life is to create a plan and stick to it. If you’ve created a calendar with three different goals on Tuesday, follow through on that plan. Because when you waste time avoiding, or distracting, or trying to “multitask” on different projects, you’re only slowing yourself down further. 

So if you’ve created a plan, and on Tuesday at 9 a.m. it says to prepare for your presentation, the most effective thing you can possibly do let’s get started on your presentation at 9. Even if you don’t want to. Even if you’d rather do anything else. And even if it’s just setting a timer for 10 minutes I’m taking the first baby step forward so that you get the ball rolling.

Constrain Your Attention

Another way you can make more time in your life is to really constrain your attention to the most important things on your to-do list, or the most important goal or goals that you’re working toward right now. 

If you have 25 different projects in the air, you’re going to waste a whole lot of time and indecision as you decide what to work on first, what can be put on the back burner, the deadlines for everything, etcetera. But by limiting your focus, you have a much easier time quickly understanding what you need to do, when you need to do it, and the steps you need to get there. It may sound counter-intuitive, but when you really limit your focus, you actually get more done. Because you do it more efficiently.

Start Saying No

And coinciding with the idea of constraining your focus, is the importance of saying no more often. 

Now, believe me, I get it. I know it’s incredibly tempting to say yes to every request and offer and every opportunity that comes your way. You want to please everybody. You don’t want to ruffle any feathers. And you don’t want to miss out on anything. But once again, when you’re stretched too thin you don’t make the progress that you want to. What’s more, you waste a bunch of time transitioning from one thing to the next.

And as a side note, if you want some further tips on how to constrain your focus and get clear on what’s most important, I encourage you to scroll all the way back to episode 7, which is all about how to identify your top priorities and actually stick to them.

Identify Your Priorities

In fact, I encourage you to keep your top priorities front-and-center as we consider this last question today. That question is: what do you want to use your time for? Again, you get to decide how you spend your 24 hours each day. It is completely up to you. You get to decide how you shape your life. And I believe the more intentional you are about this question, the quicker you’ll create the life you truly want.

What Do YOU Want?

So again, how do you want to use your time? What does “using your time wisely” mean to you? What do you value most that you want to incorporate into your life every day?

For me, these are things like helping my clients reclaim their time, reduce their overwhelm, and get control over their lives. It’s helping them learn how to uncover all of their unique strengths and learn how to share them with the world.

And it’s also about challenging myself, and growing and learning and expanding my own strengths so I can keep showing up and sharing and teaching what I know to all of you.

It’s about spending time with those I love – whether in person or virtually – and creating connections and having deep conversations. It’s about being creative and trying new things. And it’s about taking care of myself and getting enough exercise and sleep and healthy foods.

It’s about spending time outside walking Bruno and having dinner with Ryan every night.

And taking some time to really think about what I value most has been incredibly helpful. Because when I am planning my schedule or when I am contemplating saying yes to this invitation or that committee, I can return to these values. I can ask myself, is this how I want to spend my time? Is this a wise use of my time? 

Again, you get to decide, which is so powerful. And this can change, too. In fact, I think this is a question that’s worth exploring often as you continue growing and learning.

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