Rethink your relationship with time for a perspective shift on productivity, explains Abigail Barnes
As the remote work versus office work versus hybrid work debate rages on around the world, some of us have work to do and lives to live! If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that when faced with uncertainty the show must go on.
When you look back on this period of your life in 5 years’ time, what will you be saying about what was happening? It’s an odd question to ask in an article about productivity, I get that. What I’d love for you to take away from this article is a perspective shift.
Time Management as a Core Value
We can’t talk about productivity without first talking about time. Time, like oxygen, is something most of us take for granted. It’s always there, hard to quantify and impossible to stop. It’s only when we have a limited amount of it that we recognise its value.
In 2012 I decided to make how I spend my time one of my core values. How I use it matters. Who I spend time with, what I spend time doing, the work I do, the clients I work with, the relationships I nurture, the time I invest in my health and my wellbeing, the things I say yes to, the things I say no to. Every action I take stems from my relationship with time.
When you change the way you look at time, the time you have will change.
What Do You Want from Your Life?
How you spend your time is creating your life all day, every day, the good bits and the not so good bits. The career you have, the relationships you do/don’t have, the health and wellbeing you are experiencing today, it’s all influenced by how you spend your time.
Spend 5 minutes with a pen and paper writing down what you’d like to happen in your career/life right now and don’t censor yourself. Put a date on it and now ask yourself: what is one thing you could do today that could get you closer to what you want?
Productivity is an alchemy, it’s a blend of what you do and who you are, which is where our previous conversation fits in. For years, the productivity conversation has focused on ways to get more done, versus looking at ways to ensure that the person being ‘more productive’ is not compromising their wellbeing to do so.
Productive wellbeing is the marriage of two disciplines with the goal of increasing output without sacrificing health.
Identify Your Productive Times
Below are 3 questions to get you thinking:
- What time of the day do you find it easiest to focus?
- Do you have a day/s of the week when it’s easier to concentrate?
- What kind of environment helps you get more done?
Your answers to these questions will help you to create a daily and weekly timetable that works for you wherever you work.
Time Audit Your Way to Everything You Want
The only way you’ll really know what’s going on is to audit your time. A time audit is something you do for 7 days. Document everything you do all day, every day. From the time you wake up to the time you go to bed. Observe and record your social media usage both for work and personal; keep track of the work you do and for whom, noting down what was expected as well as what was unexpected. You track when you eat, work out, spend time with friends/family/relationship/s as well as your life admin.
At the end of 7 days, you’ll have enough data to give you a clear understanding of what’s going on in your work/life.
From this place you can begin to make the changes necessary to create the lifestyle you want and turn your time into productivity.
This article is based on a chapter from Abigail’s book Time Management for Entrepreneurs & Professionals