Even if you know your goals for the upcoming week, that’s not enough. You still need to develop an effective strategy to handle the everyday things and the surprises that life will throw your way.
With that said, here are four critical steps to use this weekend that will help you become a master of your time.
1. Focus on your behaviors, but even more on your words.
As humans, we don’t like deprivation, and this very fact keeps many people in their same narrative of life despite feeling an urge to change. Change is difficult also because our daily language plays an integral role in the construction of our identity.
In fact, a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research testing the language people use when confronting temptations discovered some interesting results. One group was instructed to use the phrase “I can’t” while the other used “I don’t” when considering unhealthy food choices.
After the study, everyone was offered a chocolate bar or a granola bar so the researchers could measure if they would take the unhealthy or relatively healthy option. Thirty-nine percent of the people using “I can’t” chose the granola bar while 64 percent of people using “I don’t” chose the granola bar, which led researchers to buy into the idea of psychological empowerment.
Your challenge is to look at some habits that aren’t serving the narrative for where you want to go. For example, maybe your breakfast (and overall health) is lacking, and this leaves you lethargic in the morning, which affects your work.
Start changing the habit by choosing to say, “I don’t eat foods for breakfast that leave me lethargic,” and then pick one small habit to integrate such as starting the day with a simple smoothie to boost energy levels.
2. Set up a checklist for the most important times of the day.
I not only believe in auditing myself but also in establishing precise guidelines for the way in which things will be executed, because this saves time and prevents indecision.
When it comes to creating a checklist, the first two areas to address are your mornings and nights, because they serve as your two biggest factors in determining the quality of your day.
When it comes to your mornings and nights, identify three to five actions that you’ll take first thing no matter what. For example, in the mornings, it’s easy to grab the phone and check email or social, which leads to time and precious energy being wasted.
To help combat such things, make a list that starts with walking to the bathroom to brush your teeth, then drinking a glass of water, and finally meditating (or at least thinking about the day ahead) for five minutes to prime yourself for a day of success.
3. Have clarity before any work session.
I learned this lesson from a coach, and I pass it on to any client I work with. No matter the task, it’s imperative to know why you’re doing something and what you hope to gain from it. In simpler terms, what’s the desired outcome?
For example, I have a block on my schedule each morning for 60 to 90 minutes to draft columns such as this one. The desired outcome is to get a rough draft completed and ready for processing during my afternoon editing sessions. In your business, perhaps it’s blocking out space on your calendar for calls, but get ultra-specific with it.
The desired outcome could be to book strategy calls, check-ins, or whatever else that could be important to your big mission.
4. Ruthlessly guard your environment.
Our environment can be an underrated energy drainer, and the unfortunate part is that we don’t even realize it sometimes. You’re probably familiar with people draining your energy, but various objects, smells, and sounds can affect your performance as well.
With that in mind, audit your environment and look over everything and decide if it’s draining you. If so, then discard it. For me, I need order and space, which is why I don’t have papers flying everywhere and a cluttered desk.
Create a list of must’s that you need for top performance, and under no circumstances waver from this.