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As a time management coach, I’m very conscious of how I spend my time. I try to accomplish activities in the most effective, efficient way possible, and I’m typically pretty good at filtering out the noise that can interrupt or distract me.
But I was shocked to discover that I had an Achilles’ heel. A small flaw in my thinking was leading to up to 10 hours a week of unnecessary effort.
Here was my issue: Whenever I told myself, “This is going to be so hard and require so much effort,” I then made the activity hard and require a lot of effort. The flaw in my thinking was creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Fortunately, I was able to address this issue with these three simple steps that anyone can follow to help shift their mindset and save time on tasks they perceive as difficult.
1. Tell yourself that an activity can be easy.
When you stop telling yourself that an activity will be awful, take a ton of effort and lead to little results and instead start telling yourself that an activity can be effortless and easy, you can often stop dreading it and procrastinating on it. You can stop finding ways to make a mountain out of a molehill. From that place of peace, you can think a lot more logically and clearly about what you actually need to do and also relax about the whole process.
I know that this mindset shift sounds strange or even impossible to do when your past experience tells you that an activity will be hard. But it can really work.
2. Limit your actions.
When we think activities will be really hard, we can sabotage our success and waste a lot of time by not putting limits on our actions. For example, if you tell yourself it’s going to be so hard to get new clients, you might think of 20 different things to do and then overwhelm yourself trying to do all of them. Or when it comes to your health, if you tell yourself it will be so hard to get into shape and then you try to change everything all at once in an extreme way, you may feel overwhelmed and end up eating chocolate chip cookie dough at midnight in despair.
But when you tell yourself that an activity can be easy and strictly limit your actions, you can stop dreading the activity, stop spending excessive time on it, stop taking actions that don’t lead to results and stop procrastinating. For example, as the end of 2018 was approaching, I asked myself, “What’s the one most important activity for the end of this year?” Then I asked myself, “What are the next most important activities?” I narrowed my goals down to three so I could filter out all the other noise.
By doing this, I was able to be successful in investing consistent time in reaching them. My top three goals have all been achieved. This focus really helped me carve out time to make the most important activities a priority. A big part of this success also came from using my top goals to decide what not to do — not investing in other business development activities, training, etc., that would keep me from the activities I considered most important.
3. Constrain the time frame.
In certain areas of my life, I was making activities that I perceived as difficult even harder on myself by not limiting the time frame for completing them. My thinking was, “This might be helpful to me in achieving my goal, so I might as well get it done, no matter how long it takes,” instead of thinking, “I only have an hour — what really matters? I’m going to do that first and let everything else just fall by the wayside.”
I found that setting a time constraint really helps me focus and reduces my stress about the activity and, surprisingly, it seems to lead to results that are just as good. Being busier doesn’t always equal being more productive.
Let’s stop making activities hard and start making them easier and less time-consuming with these three simple steps.
January 3, 2019 at 09:09AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs