Time is one of the biggest barriers between us & getting our work done. We constantly struggle to find the time to create, build our brand and relish in our social lives. Some days we wake up not in the best shape to work or life gets in the way of our plans. Other days we have all the time in the world, yet we give in to our poor habit of procrastination. So you find yourself stressing over the fact that you aren’t getting enough done, don’t worry. There’s a simple solution to your problem: The Eisenhower Principle.
This time-managing principle was devised by the renowned army general and 34th president of the United States, Dwight Eisenhower. It’s great for entrepreneurs, CEOs and creatives, who constantly have to juggle tons of work and changing priorities. However, you don’t have to be any of those things in order to use this principle to take back control of your time.
Here’s a short video that sums up the Eisenhower Principle really well:
Getting a handle on this principle may take time, but it’s worth it in the long run. For practicing this principle on a daily basis will help you find that time you need to build your brand and write.
I’d start by making a list of all the tasks you need to get done in both your workweek & personal life. Then set an achievable number of tasks you’d like to get done in a single day. You should also set aside a couple of hours or days of extra time to tackle a task, in case something comes up (Long gone are days of last-minute essays!). This way, you are setting yourself up for success and not a failure. Additionally, you could draw the Eisenhower grid and chalk out what is a priority and what isn’t.
That being said, the Eisenhower Principle will only work if you are committed to changing how you spend your time and following the schedule you design for yourself. There also may be a few things you need to work on in order for you to see the best results. In order to help you, here are some extra tips & tricks that I use in order to save time and be productive:
Contrary to popular belief, multitasking can actually be detrimental to your productivity. Instead of trying to do a million different things at once, you should focus on one task. For some, this also means being in a quiet environment free from distractions. For, a recent study demonstrated that some people work best with music and others don’t. I am one of the lucky ones who can work with my music playing, but I still enjoy some peace and quiet every once in a while!
Set Deadlines & Time Limits
Even if you work on your own time, it’s important to set deadlines. Having a set deadline in mind will allow to prioritize your tasks with more ease and be more productive. That being said, you should be realistic when setting your deadlines and make sure you give yourself ample time to complete each task.
While you’re working, you should also set time limits. Say you need to work on market research. Set yourself a time limit of 45min and once time’s up, move on to the task. Even if you didn’t find all the research you need, doing will enable you to make progress on more than one task on your daily list. If you have extra time, you could always come back to any tasks that aren’t done at the end of the day or at a later date.
Learn to prioritize
Knowing how to prioritize is one of the best skills you can learn. I like to divide my tasks into 2 colour-coded categories: work & personal. However, you can add as many categories you like and use whatever colours you’d like. That way when I make my schedules, it’s easier for me to figure out what I should prioritize that’s work-related or personal. While this might work for me, it might not for you. So you have to find the way you can adapt the Eisenhower Principle that works best for you.
Focus on what you specialize in
While it’s great to learn new skills, there are a time and place for it. When you have a jam-packed schedule and overbearing workload already, don’t make life more difficult for yourself by adding the extra weight of trying to complete a task you aren’t proficient in.
When it comes to my own work, I know where my strengths lie. So if there’s something I need to be done that’s work-related and I don’t feel confident in, I delegate it out to someone else. For example, if I need a specific photo for a project that I can’t find on a stock website, I hire a professional photographer. Luckily, I’ve had the opportunity to meet quite a few over the years, so I know exactly who to ask.
So not only should you delegate non-essential tasks or work you aren’t proficient in, but you should build a strong network of individuals you can assign these tasks to. This will take a lot of time and effort, but in the long run, it will pay off more than simply hiring someone on Fivver or Upwork. For, freelance websites are simply a transaction: The freelancers do the work you need and you pay them. Which leaves you with a dead-end when it comes to building your brand. Through networking, not only are you supporting your colleagues, friends or whoever they may be, you’re opening the door for new possibilities. Say you want to sell your book. Chances are you will have more success selling it to someone who you’ve hired in the past and knows you than someone else. Furthermore, those connections lead to future job opportunities, learning new things and reaching new audiences. Just remember to give more than you take and not be overly dependent on others for your success.
Take Advantage of Your Mornings
They say by waking up early, you gain an extra hour or two every day. When you think about it, this can add up pretty fast! Aside from that, I personally have never felt better than on the days I was working on the Farmer’s clock. A couple years back, I stayed at my friend’s farm for a week. Instead of just pulling up a lawn chair and relaxing during my vacation, I insisted on helping out. So every morning I was up at 4am to feed the sheep, waterfowl, dog & chickens. In the evening, I’d take the birds from the pond and return them to their secure pens (And catch that stray sheep or two who wandered off). While it wasn’t much work, it got me used to that system of being productive in the morning.
When you take advantage of your mornings instead of slaving away late at night, you actually get a lot more done. Take your phone for example: Let’s say you can only charge at night so when you wake up in the morning it’s at full battery. As the day goes by, your phone’s battery level decreases. While it may still work, it will be less responsive. Your mind works the same way. So it’s best to take advantage of your brain power when it’s at its full capacity, rather than skipping sleep to work when it’s not.
Read Before Writing
A trick I like to use to get into the right mindset before I starting writing is to read. Every morning when I wake up, I read for an hour before I start working. This has helped me so much, as I’m absorbing not only the story I’m writing but also the dialogue structure, vocabulary and character relationships being portrayed in the novel (Just to name a few). However, it doesn’t have to be a work of fiction or a book. You could read the newspaper (If anyone still does, let me know in the comments below), a science article or even an informative blog post.
Train Your Brain
A wise professor once told me that if you want to get things done, you have to train your brain to seek work and not leisure. When we constantly give in to our social media habits and those “quick-fix pleasures”, we are telling our minds that that is what is expected of it. So when it comes time to work, we have a harder time concentrating on the task at hand. Instead, when you have free time you try a new hobby or learn something new. Thanks to the internet, there are tons of free online resources that can help you do just that, such as Ted Talks and HowStuffWorks.
“Urgent vs Important Tasks- (What SHOULD YOU Do First?)- The Eisenhower Grid.” YouTube, uploaded by MTD Training, 22 Feb 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Caw-TRFIqFk.
Thank you so much for reading this article! If you found this article helpful or have any time-saving tricks you’d like to share, let me know in the comments below!
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