This week, I offer advice on the best ways to maximize your time throughout the day.
Daily Focus: How To Maximize Your Time
We all have goals, assignments, and tasks which need completing. Thus, we need to maximize the time we have through a variety of techniques and practices:
- Know where you’re aiming – What are your life, yearly, monthly, and weekly goals? Understand where you’re headed so you can stay focused
- Create better habits by adhering to virtue – Practice the 13 virtues consistently and constantly, so you can create better habits
- Set daily goals – Create daily goals which enable you to achieve your bigger dreams
- Have a winner’s mindset – Believe, against all odds, that you can change the world in an hour
- Keep track of your time – Keep notes on the time you spend on each activity, so you can analyze your actions
- Accept imperfections, but not limitations – Understand your flaws, but seek to overcome them
Your daily productivity is essential to your overall success. Your life goals are accomplished by ensuring every second of your life has a purpose and direction. Wasted minutes pile up and can spell doom if you’re not careful.
So, how do you keep focused on every second? Today, I will discuss how I ensure my time is utilized in the best way possible. These techniques are easy to implement but difficult to master, so don’t feel discouraged at first. However, once you nail these habits, you’ll see your productivity skyrocket.
1. Daily Focus and Life Purpose: You Have To Know What You’re Aiming At
To live a meaningful life, you need a purpose. Once you identify a life goal, you can create smaller goals to ensure success. These goals can be annual, monthly, or weekly but they should help you fulfill your life’s purpose.
Firstly, we want simple long-term goals. For example, you don’t want to have a 10-year plan, a 5-year plan, followed by a nuanced analysis of the activity in the months of February and April within your 4-year plan, and so forth. The more complicated your long-term goals, the more overwhelmed you’ll feel when planning your day.
Secondly, we want to journal constantly about our long-term goals. Always take a few minutes a day to reevaluate what you’re doing. Are your smaller goals achievable? Are they helping you move forward? Do you want to adjust them? If you want to become stronger, always question the path you set for yourself.
Have A Hierarchy Of What’s Important To Help Enhance Your Daily Focus
Lastly, have a hierarchy of what’s important. For example, my job requires a certain amount of work from me. The coding I do for my employer is more important than this blog. Once I accomplish the tasks my employer sets, then I can focus on my blog. Additionally, this hierarchy helps me to respond to emergencies. I have a strict no-work-at-home rule. No matter the issue, I don’t work from home. This frees me to spend time with my family.
By setting clear expectations, I can respond quickly and decisively to potential issues. Is there an emergency with a website? I’ll handle it first thing tomorrow when I return to work. Is there something broken on my site? I’ll have to wait until I’m done with my assignments from my employer.
Take The Time To Better Understand What Matters Most To You
Developing a clear hierarchy will save your mental energy. Here are some questions to help you develop a hierarchy and enhance your daily focus:
- What activities help you put food on the table? I would suggest putting these long-term goals at the top.
- Are you willing to sacrifice your health to pursue a goal? If not, are there exceptions?
- How important is family and social life? When will you block off time for them? How much time do they expect from you?
2. Understand The 13 Virtues
We should live virtuously because moral excellence enables us to be the best version of ourselves. When we live short-term, vice-filled lives, we will struggle to muster the courage, fortitude, and zeal necessary to accomplish great things. Therefore, contemplate the 13 virtues and embody them.
There’s no perfect moral system. However, if you follow the 13 virtues, you can know you’re going in the right direction. For example, if you are loyal to your employer and commit to creating quality work, you’ll be confident in your honest behavior and conduct even if no one else knows or cares.
Why Developing Virtue Aids Your Daily Focus and Life Long Improvement
The point of developing virtue is free yourself of shame, doubt, and fear. The more virtuous we are, the more self-assured we can be. People who go from vice to vice, seeking a constant distraction from life will be terrified of challenges. Additionally, you’ll waste precise minutes reflecting on regrets and past behaviors. For example, I wasted too much time thinking about a homeless man I could have given food to. I failed to be generous and my mind properly reminds me of my failure to be virtuous.
Understand the 13 virtues, what they mean, and what they stand for. Understand how you can live the best life possible. While performing any action, you should be able to quickly ask, “Is this virtuous?” If the answer is no, then you can safely stop doing what you’re doing.
3. Daily Focus: Set Clear, Concise, And Meaningful Goals
We’ve gone over knowing your aims. We’ve gone over how to clean yourself of doubt and shame. Now we can look at creating a plan and enhancing your daily focus.
Your daily goals are the bedrock of progress. If you set crappy goals, then you will lose.
So, let’s start at the top. You have a life goal. What are your annual, monthly, and weekly goals? Personally, I keep one monthly goal with a variety of weekly goals. With this knowledge in place, I can craft my daily goals. I set my goals for the day the night before. When I wake up, I reflect on them during my morning routine. From here, I mark them off as I go about my day.
My Current Goal System Improves My Daily Focus
For example, I want to tell stories which inspire individuals to be their best selves. To achieve my life goal, I need to satisfy my long-term goal of mastering writing. Therefore, my goal for today is to write 4,000 words and read for an hour.
As I finish my goals, I may add more as they come to mind. Each accomplished goal is highlighted in blue. Each goal that is completed but needs further review (like a follow-up with someone) I place in green and place a note next to the goal. Every goal I fail to accomplish is highlighted red and mark down why I failed it. Be blunt. Sometimes I will be as direct as “You failed to be courageous.” Such words are painful but important.
Reflect On Your Goals Frequently And Always Set Follow-Ups
Throughout the day, I’ll make a new goal a few days later as a follow-up. For example, today I set a goal to write a rough draft for a blog. When I finish the rough draft, I set a goal two days later to review what I’ve written. This is why you have to be clear about your long-term goals. Because I know my long-term expectations, I can set follow-up tasks which align with these expectations. I don’t have to overthink – the process is automatic.
Lastly, you’ll need to refine your hierarchy. Anything you’re doing for your job should be more important than washing the dishes, for example. Here are the ways that I set a goal:
- What does my family need me to do? E.g., do I need to pay a bill or clean an item or prepare dinner?
- What do I need to do for work tomorrow? E.g., do I need to talk to a client or wrap up a project or touch base with someone?
- What can I do to advance my writing skills? E.g., should I read a book?
- What can I do to advance my coding skills? E.g., should I practice my coding or do I need to use my flashcards?
- What can I do to advance my drawing skills? E.g., should I draw heads today or bodies?
It is essential to keep track of your actions. I may decide not to read a book tonight because I’ve already finished two books this week. Therefore, I can safely aim my sights on other activities such as drawing or cleaning.
There’s a lot to absorb. Thus, you need to start small and build momentum. Focus on your job. Map out what you want to accomplish at your job then get to work. Once you get into the rhythm, you can include more personal goals. Once you build a backlog of goals completed, failed, and needing follow-up, you’ll easily get into the groove as you add more responsibilities.
4. Time Limits and Daily Focus: Set Time Limits On Everything You Do
One of the most crucial behaviors I do is set time limits. Not every activity can be completed in one day. For example, I can’t “complete” flashcard studying. I can conceivably do this task for ages. Therefore, I set a time limit to study for 30 minutes. Once I reach that 30 minutes, I consider the task complete and move on to the next thing.
Time limits keep you focus while enabling you to better plan out your day. Therefore, setting time limits will help you see what needs accomplishing, how much time you have, and how realistic your expectations are. You will never perfect time management. Sometimes, things pop up, and you need to handle them. That’s why you have a hierarchy, so you can complete the most important goals first. Once you complete the most important goals, get back on track and try to achieve as much as you can.
5. “I Will Change The World In An Hour”
Next, we’re going to talk about mindset. You have to honestly believe, with every fiber of your being, that you can change the world in an hour. Your intensity will bulldoze doubts, fears, and bouts of laziness. No matter what I’m doing, I fully accept that I will accomplish something big by the end of the hour. If I’m working on a blog post, I believe I’ll finish the blog without any errors; then I’ll wrap up two more blog posts.
Do I always make it? Frankly, I don’t care. I set the bar high, roll up my sleeves, and get to work anyway.
This attitude produces results. Why? Because you’ll push yourself and break through your comfort zone. Your anxiety will decrease, and your focus will intensify. The more impressive your aims, the harder you will work to achieve them.
Lastly, this mindset will help you handle and accept smaller failures with grace and ease. Because I didn’t manage to write three blog posts, error-free in an hour, I can shrug my shoulders. I’m proud of the one blog post I finished without errors. Had I not set such an intense standard, I wouldn’t have wrapped up even one post. Therefore, I set an impossible goal and go for it anyway, so I can accomplish greatness every time.
6. Keep Constant Track Of Everything You Do So You Can Compare And Improve
You improve when you reflect on your past efforts and behaviors. During this reflection, you need to refine your actions and make improvements, so you can advance your life.
This a two-prong approach. Every night, you need to set the goals you want to accomplish tomorrow. When you’re going through the day, no matter what you do, mark down your actions as best as you can. This constant tracking will help you see where your time is going and enable you to cut bad habits while strengthening good ones.
For example, one day I set a long list of goals and finished less than half. I was irritated until I remembered I spent time with the family. Thus, my mistake was setting high aims and not remembering my commitments to my family.
Additionally, keeping track of your actions enables you to see how much you’ve improved over time. In the end, you’ll be compelled to go further as you cut bad habits. So keep track of your actions. Have the courage to get over the initial embarrassment, so you can keep moving onward.
7. Accept That You Are Not Perfect, But That’s Not An Excuse
Lastly, be honest about your flaws. We all have limitations that prevent us from accomplishing greatness. We need to be upfront with these problems and find solutions to them.
For example, I love playing games. However, games are time-consuming. Therefore, I needed to figure out a way to play games while remaining highly productive. My solution was simple: stop watching YouTube videos, consuming junk media, and complaining. Suddenly, I had more time to play games without regret or shame.
Some “flaws” are the realities of being human. For example, you need to meet your health concerns. Meeting these concerns can be time-consuming, but you’ll feel better. Thus, instead of cutting sleep, cut other time-consuming activities. Even be willing to adjust your expectations and be more realistic about what you want and are eager to achieve.
Accept your imperfections but never settle in them. They are not excuses. Your shortcomings need to be overcome and dominated.
How’s Your Day Going?
Are you killing it today or are you going to go to bed full of regret? Once you start implementing the techniques described above, you’ll live to the fullest. Daily focus is all about never let the day get away from you. When every minute is accounted for and directed towards creating the best version of yourself, you’ll dominate today.
- How was yesterday? Do you feel like you accomplish enough? Were you able to sleep soundly and felt rest was a just reward? If not, what could you have done differently? What suggestion in the list above could you have utilized?
- What was your last great day where you felt as if you killed it? What did you do? What did you avoid?
- Of the list above, which item is the easiest for you to do? Which is the hardest?
- How do you keep track of your daily activities? Is there anything you could improve?
Please remember that it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.
*Image credit to Unsplash