Finding More Time To Do It All by Daneal Charney and David James Singh

The scenario

I have always seemed to find a way to do it all. I got great marks in school, was captain of my volleyball team, served on the student government, helped run countless charitable events. Six months into my first job out of school, I am logging some high-burn hours and am nearly at the point of exhaustion. I know it’s a competitive marketplace and want to work hard to differentiate myself but not at the expense of dropping the other balls in life. How do I juggle competing priorities?

The advice

Everyone gets the same 168 hours a week but how you use them is negotiable. Within that you must work (60); eat, shower, dress (25); sleep (50). That leaves 33 hours that are somewhat negotiable. Don’t try to reschedule your entire life. Focus on small, manageable actions to boost your ability to deliver on commitments and have fun.

Get up earlier

If you can commit to getting up 30 or 60 minutes earlier for the next month, you’ll build a habit that will change your life. With this “found” time you can exercise, eat a proper breakfast, keep a journal or think about your goals, ultimately freeing more time to spend on the things you love.

Record your actions

As management guru Peter Drucker once wrote: “What gets measured gets done.” Try this exercise: Create a document with two columns. List the time in one column in 15-minute increments and leave a blank space in the second column. For one week (two if you can manage it), record all the things you do in your day. Be as specific and accurate as possible, so that week’s end you can look back precisely on where you’ve invested your time. This might confirm some hunches or enlighten you on your habits. Decide which patterns that you’d like to change, continue or stop.

Use mantra cards

A mantra card is a business card-sized piece of paper that contains a thought, idea or action. For example, you might have one called “Keep the budget” or “Do 100 pushups.” You want to be able to quickly flip through the cards 10 to 15 times a day, so aim to have fewer than 10. As you find yourself daydreaming, going to get a coffee or commuting, you can shuffle through them. They will queue your mind to refocus on the things that are most important.

Check in weekly

This step is the secret to having productive days, weeks, and years. It’s simple: By taking 30 minutes at the end of each week to reflect on what you did with your time, you can see where you succeeded most, as well as areas that need improvement. Do it at a set time; use it for personal reflection. Evaluate when you had the most energy, fun, or satisfaction. Isolate which events caused stress. In the next week, make a concerted effort to do more of what boosts your energy and less of what drains you.

Daneal Charney and David Singh are Toronto-based speakers and consultants and co-authors of Hitting Stryde: An Early Career Survival Guide.

Globe & Mail article