Each morning people wake up and choose how they will start the day. For some, this may mean a quick workout before heading to the office and for others it could mean spending some time with their kids, reading the morning news or catching up on work-related emails.
In reality, everyone is making personal and professional trade-offs -- spending time here versus there. But ultimately being effective is not a matter of finding a balance between two spheres, but rather it's optimizing how you spend your time across the board. It's time that people embrace the notion of time optimization and put the idea of attaining work-life balance to bed.
The secret lies not in weighing opposing priorities, but in planning ahead so as to have time to spend it where you wish.
As 2015 quickly approaches, entrepreneurs should aim to set intentions for each and every day to fully optimize your time throughout the year.
Here is my approach to optimizing time in 2015:
1. Don’t follow a one-size-fits-all system.
Recognize that everyone optimizes time differently. My priorities and the demands on my time will differ from yours, another CEO’s or even those of someone in my family.
The key is to create an individualized plan that works for you based on all the factors at hand -- available minutes in the day, amount of sleep required and work commute. I believe there is no one-size-fits-all approach and that people need to optimize all aspects of their lives on an individual basis.
2. Make time for in-person communication.
Often, there are lapses in communication over text, email or even the phone. While people think these digital forms of communication are making them more efficient and social, they are actually wasting time deciphering mixed messages and clarifying points of view.
Constant interaction through digital technology prevents people from stepping back and engaging in physical reality. People often forget how much more efficient they can be by stepping away from the computer, meeting with someone in person and working through a task or issue. It’s not just comical when people seated at the same table send texts to one another. It’s sad.
3. Create a log.
If you feel that your time isn’t being allocated efficiently or are unsure of where the hours in your day are being spent, it's time for a log. Creating a log will help you identify what activities take the most time and will help you identify where you can cut back or shift priorities.
To optimize my time I have been keeping a log for the past 15 years of my life. I can tell you approximately how many hours I’ve spent working, networking, exercising, playing guitar or taking part in social activities. Yes, you can even make time for your social life.
A log, which can be as simple as a well-kept electronic calendar, also provides an honest view of where someone is spending his or her time and is a good way to assess if adjustments should be made. From personal experience, I can say it's far too easy to spend time on activities that preclude you from making the most of every moment of your day.
4. Plan ahead.
I suggest planning way ahead. I had most of the major milestones of 2015 in my calendar before carving 2014's Thanksgiving turkey. Scheduling big work events such as board meetings or conferences in advance provides anchor points to build the year around. Be transparent in communicating the master schedule so that colleagues can plan vacations and maximize time in other parts of their life.
Integrating these tips as you consider your outlook for the new year can be a defining point in your professional and personal success. Remember, no one is perfect and even if you follow these tips, there will always be distractions pulling your attention away from what really matters.
It's easy to become wrapped up in the highs and lows associated with daily tasks at work or home. Taking a step back to reflect when this happens is an important activity to embrace. In the end, it’s not about counting the minutes of the day but rather optimizing your time across multiple activities and leading a fulfilled life.