“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…” ~ Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go
Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, penned “Oh the Places You’ll Go” in 1990 and it sold more than 10 million copies by its 25th anniversary. That’s not surprising, of course, when you consider the illustrated book is a favorite gift to give graduating students, as well anyone else about to set out for a new adventure in life. In this book, Seuss imparts a lyrical mix of encouragement (You’ll be on your way up! You’ll be seeing great sights!), balanced with a healthy dose of reality (Except when you don’t, because, sometimes, you won’t.) As Seuss winds us through the ups and downs of life, he brings us to “The Waiting Place…for people just waiting. Waiting for a train to go, or a bus to come, or a plane to go, or the mail to come… Everyone is just waiting.”
Is that you? You’ve got dreams but you’re waiting for the right moment to live into them. You’ve got goals, but you’re in a holding pattern until circumstances are right and you can finally make the leap. You’ve an idea of what the life you’ll love looks like, but you’ve just got no time to breathe life into it. I have a secret for you. You will not create the life or career of your dreams if you wait to find the time to get started. Productive time is not found. It is made and here are 7 tips on how to make it:
You could claim back up to six hours of your week just by getting organized. That could take the form of reorganizing your work space in a manner that’s more conducive to your work style or it might mean becoming better skilled at maintaining a calendar and a running to-do list. Whatever it means for you, learning to tame the chaos will put more productive hours back in your day.
One and Done
If you’ve got a daily habit of reading emails first thing in the morning and making a mental note of how to deal with each later, stop. You could add back in up to 10 hours a month according to experts simply by reading and instantly responding. Adopt the practice of touching each piece in your inbox once. Read new messages and then reply, delete, or file and move on.
Make Every Minute Count
In radio, dead air – a period of silence during a broadcast – is a bad thing. Where’s the dead air in your life? Is it sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office? Sitting in the car waiting for your child to emerge from school at the end of the day? Is it on the train while you commute to the office? Fill those spaces with sound. Whether you use your commute as a time of reflection or you catch up on emails while you’re in the pick-up line, turn that dead air into productive space.
Audit Your Hours
When we take an honest look at how we’re spending our minutes, we realize that perhaps we could use the time we have more efficiently. This isn’t to say that every moment of every day is to be used for productive activities only. Finding time to unwind with a check in on social media, your favorite television program, or pretending you don’t know your daughter is hiding in that space between her closet and her dresser for the nth time, is worth it (especially that game of hide and seek!). But, those same unwinding distractions can creep into the spaces earmarked for productivity too. Taking a hard, honest look at how you’re spending your time can help you identify when your distractions are over-reaching and when they’re not.
You’re Not a Solo Act
When we begin to feel the overwhelm creep up on us, it’s easy to give in to martyrdom. We begin to take count of all the tasks claiming space on our plates: our household chores, our work tasks, setting up dinner plans with our friends, and on and on. There are certainly tasks that only you can do. There are also tasks that you want to do. There are those other tasks, however, that are okay to delegate to someone else. Know when to ask for help and when to hold tight. Then follow through with it.
Relax Your Standards
Of the tasks you’ve held onto, embrace the notion that completing some of them can be completed in a manner that is “good enough.” Release the idea that perfection is the only standard worth measuring against. Maybe you didn’t get the book shelf dusted this week and perhaps your sit-down dinners lean more to quick-prep than fine dining. That’s good enough. Comparison shopping is good, but devoting hours to finding the best deal may not yield enough difference to make the dedication work it. The savings you uncovered in the first thirty minutes might be good enough.
Remember, “no” is a complete sentence in and of itself and there is no reason to feel guilty using it. You don’t have to say yes to every request. Say no when you need to.
To quote Seuss one last time, “Everyone is just waiting. NO! That’s not for you! Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying. You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing. With banner flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high! Ready for anything under the sky.”