Benjamin Franklin, inventor, author, politician, and one of America’s founders, is credited with coining the phrase, ‘time is money,’ in the advice he gave to a young tradesman.
Boy, if only he’d lived long enough to see how many ways technology gives us to waste time in a 24-hour day. Old Ben was onto something: there’s literally one thing we cannot create or get more of, and it’s time, so it’s up to us to get the most use out of each day if we’re going to be successful.
Let’s examine a few ways to maximize use of your days. Most of these are simple and many we’ve all heard before, but they bear repeating.
- Sleep. This sounds counterproductive, but very few of us can be productive when we get less than eight hours of sleep a night. Sleep is when the brain rests and regenerates and multiple studies done by countless scientists have proven sleep has a beneficial impact on our physical and mental health, as well as our productivity.
- Prioritize your peak hours. Don’t procrastinate: check your most important tasks off your list while you are still at peak mental capacity. You may believe you’re a night owl, but you are likely wrong: research shows most of us have maximum mental energy two or three hours after waking and that energy lasts for three to six hours. So, don’t waste your mornings. Take care of business early and the rest of the day is gravy.
- Limit priorities. If your priority list for each day routinely has 10 items or more, you’re dooming yourself to failure. You should only have a few key daily goals – no more than five or six – and you should schedule them. What time will you focus on them? How much time will each make? With this method, you’ll actually be able to accomplish your tasks for the day and you won’t feel overwhelmed.
- Learn the power of delegation. Don’t be afraid to outsource chores that take up too much space in your brain or too much time. Sure, you’ll have to pay someone to cut your lawn, for instance, but remember Mr. Franklin’s saying? Unless you enjoy yard work, you’re better off paying someone else to do it so you can focus on your profit-producing activities. The rise of meal kit deliveries like Blue Apron and HelloFresh are perfect examples of this type of efficient outsourcing: ready-made dinner kits with ingredients included provide busy cooks the ability to put a homemade meal on the table while saving a trip to the grocery.
- Strictly time yourself through the day. A tactic recommended to those with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), this hack is helpful to everyone: set the timer on your phone for 50 minutes and commit to working on one task in that time. When the timer goes off, take a 10-minute break. Get coffee, walk outside, read the news – whatever it takes to rest and reset your mind. After 10 minutes, repeat throughout the day. Breaking your day up into chunks fools our brain into greater productivity than looking at an eight-hour day stretching before us.
It’s not even necessary to use all these tips at once. Implement a couple and note the rise in your energy levels and increase in your productivity, and then you may decide to add others to your professional toolbox. You don’t have to be as sage as Ben Franklin to find success.