Time Management #2: Stop Putting Out Fires All Day

Sometimes in the evenings, when you’re looking back at your day, do you find that nothing on your “goal list” got done? This used to happen to me more than I’d like to admit. That’s why I’ve spent the last years intensely studying what makes us more efficient with time so we can knock out busyness and get on with the joy are lives are supposed to be made of. 

How many days do you spend the bulk of your time running around putting out fires?

How much closer could you be to your big dream if you stopped letting the tail wag the dog? There’s actually a way to work half the amount you are now and make twice as much money and time for things you love. Focus baby focus.  

Some of us may not even have a goal list to begin with—but I think most of us at least start with a general idea of where we need to focus. But then, your car overheats on the freeway…a friend you haven’t seen in ages stops by…your cat flops onto your keyboard…  

At those moments, the list usually goes out the window and your focus is gone with the wind. Then we find we don’t even bother to make lists anymore, because we feel sure we’ll just abandon them later. Why make them in the first place?   

If you find yourself exhausted because you approach each day like a firefighter, locating emergencies and containing them, listen up.  

The key to stopping this madness is mapping-out each day ahead of time. It puts you back in the driver’s seat and helps guide you when you start to veer off course. 

Start by brainstorming on paper all the things that need handling—like ALL THE THINGS! Nothing is too big or small.  

Want to write a new course to offer your clients? Maybe create passive income? Or hire your own coach to master your money mindset, reach those impossible business goals you’ve only dreamed of, get to your ideal weight, find the love of your life or really love the one you’re with, OR learn how to be twice as productive in half the amount of time— once and for all?

That’s my jam and what I do best helping my clients achieve. I’ll tell you what I tell them — you FIRST have to write it down. It doesn’t matter what it is. And I’m talking about the big and small things. Need to buy paper towels? Write it down. Dreaming of a new house? Write it down. 

Think of something in the middle of the night long after you’ve made the list? Keep your big list accessible and jot that down, too. 

Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize.

Next start a new list (based on the first one— your “master list”) organized by when things need doing. Like…you probably need those paper towels today, but finding a new house may take a while. 

Organizing everything will make you feel more powerful and in control, as well as helping you get realistic about how much can get done in a certain amount of time. 

What do you want to accomplish from your big list this month? This week? Sketch it all out! 

Sketch it all out.jpg

If next month’s goal is to find a new living space, a baby step this month could be spending a few hours a week on listing sites. Even 20 minutes at a time adds up! 

And if you really want to see magic happen, break your weekly tasks into daily ones. Really map what you want your day to look like. Put lunch in there…yoga…free time…all of it! Check out my blog on Monday Hour One, and the Freedom Calendar once you’ve made your goals and lists.

You can always change your list, but getting an outline in place ahead of time is key. You’ll be amazed at how much more you get done when you plan! 

And if you’ve ever added things you’ve already done to a to-do list just to check it off—then you’re going to LOVE watching your list ebb and flow, one item at a time. 

Would you like 2 hours back in your day guaranteed? Then take on this challenge for the month: 

Each night before you go to bed get in the habit of making a list of things you want to accomplish for the following day. Your brain will get to work while you sleep and you’ll have a bunch of bright ideas you wouldn’t have had if you didn’t make a list. The best thing yet, is that this simple task of making a list for the following day will save you 2 hours a day! 

So here’s a recap of what to do to become unstoppable:

  1. Always work from a list! Capture every idea on paper. Have a “master list,” and keep adding to it any task that comes up —big or small.

  2. Plan your day in advance! It only takes a few minutes and you’ll save 2 hours a day!! Don’t believe me? Take the challenge and see the magic unfold. It’s not about perfection either. It’s about creating a new habit. So don’t give up if your plans don’t go exactly as you’d wished. You’ll get better and better at it. So just keeping doing it!

  3. At the end of each month, prepare a monthly list for the month ahead. Pull from your master list. If you did last week’s assignment this will include your big dream-like goals, and the little things like picking up the paper towels.

  4. Always ask yourself, “What needs to be done first?” Focus on getting first things done first AND focus on the “results NOT busy work!”

    I call this the R/B principle (or R over B) for short— Results over busywork! Think completion of a major task, or projects rather than a bunch of smaller to-do’s that in the long run don’t make a difference. For instance, you may want a clean house, but if you need to organize your finances, a clean home won’t serve you “right now”. Clean up later. Prioritize now. Train yourself to do the things that’ll have the biggest impact if you get them done now. Usually these are the items we procrastinate on. You can reprogram your brain to do the most impactful tasks now, not later (or worse, never).

  5. Create a weekly list. It’s totally normal if this list changes as the week goes on. Have fun with it. It’s awesome not to have to rethink, worry and stress about what’s coming up.

  6. Be sure to cross off what you’ve done on your daily list—the mind loves to see this visual progress. You’ll get a hit of dopamine and create a positive addiction to getting the stuff done that really matters to you!

    So what’re you gonna do with those extra two hours a day? Time for more joy my friends!