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Personal growth

Make the most of your waking hours

In the past couple of years, I’ve thought more about maximizing the time I’m awake than getting the most important things done by cutting back on sleep. And while I still prefer to wake up early, I don’t play “catch-up” anymore, but I read, write, think, and train. They are the daily “must-haves” irrespective of what my schedule looks like; I can’t imagine making the most out of my waking hours if I don’t do them.

Most people, however, try to carry out these activities during their “free time.” The challenge is that the concept of “free time” is built on a false premise — you’re free to do whatever you want with the time you have. Yes, I know, you’ve got a job, family, and other commitments. But nobody’s stopping you from quitting your job, leaving your family, or ignoring your obligations. But would you? Of course, you won’t! That doesn’t mean you can expect yourself to do it all, though. Yet, you do, only to end up getting disappointed because you find yourself in a mess.

The antidote is to master two concepts:

  1. Prioritization
  2. Procrastination

Let’s get real — we suck at multitasking but don’t dare to admit it. It’s a documented fact that we work the best when we’re monotasking. And that’s only possible when we learn to prioritize what we intend to do. Precisely why the most productive people choose to plan their week on a Sunday and their days, the night before. It helps them focus on their most important commitments. The best set just one priority for the day, and everything else is a bonus.

Remember, if everything is a priority, nothing is. So, it’s essential to narrow down your todo list by asking this critical question: what’s my most significant focus for today? It could be that one thing that can move your business a step closer to your goal or help you get over that hurdle that’s been coming in the way of your progress. Having clarity on this will help you be more productive as you’ve just got one damn thing to do the whole day.

The ONE thing is more comfortable to focus on than many things. Contrary to what most people think, it’s a more realistic approach than expecting to tackle 25 different things in a day where the tendency is to strike off the most comfortable things that come our way and ‘feel’ productive. But have we made progress for real? Nope.

And that’s why we procrastinate (in case you were wondering why I haven’t mentioned it yet). The best way to master procrastination is to get a grip on how you prioritize. So, whip out your list and make some edits. Determine what your priorities are for this week, the upcoming month, and year. And catch up on your sleep instead of work because your priorities will still be waiting for you when you wake up the next morning.