One thing that has always seemed to be both an asset and a liability to me was my ability to take on multiple projects at once.
It’s just like learning to juggle. You need to learn which balls to focus on, or in this case which projects.
The first step is realizing that you do have multiple things going on at once. Don’t we all? Building a business, having a family, going to school, hanging out with friends and that oh so special time for relaxing. This may seem like a lot, but we do have 24 hours in a day so we’ve got plenty of time for it all. We’re actually quite spoiled that we have 24 hours in a day, but with sleeping we really only have 16-20 hours a day depending on how much sleep you need. Some people kick ass and sleep only 3 hours a night. I personally sleep more than this and haven’t even attempted the 3 hour cycles, except on drinking nights that have happened quite a bit in this life of mine. When I went to college in Buffalo, bars didn’t close until 4am..needless to say I had quite a few 5,6, 7am bedtimes and would wake up around 9-10am some of these times. ROUGH
But onto the important thing at hand. How you can personally learn to better juggle all the stuff that’s going on in your life.
First things first, you NEED to have a To Do list every day, or at least Monday thru Friday. On this list (I recommend either a post-it or notecard) you want to have the 3 major tasks you want to accomplish in a day. For my 30 day blog challenge, it is to write a blog post everyday and I also have exercise on there because I exercise everyday. Yours might be to call 5-10 prospective customers, clean up your office and brush your teeth. You can literally choose whatever you want to accomplish in a day, write it down and then you get to do what makes me happy….cross the stuff off the list! Or put a check mark, or eat that task. Anything you want actually.
On your To Do list, make sure you have the 1 thing that you absolutely positively must finish that day and have that written first. Do this as soon as you wake up and get it out of the way. The way this works is that once you get it done, you have more time to do other stuff. More FUN stuff!
So ask yourself “What NEEDS to be done?” and write that on your list.
I’d also like to introduce you to two different principles that have helped me dramatically with getting more stuff done.
The first is the Pareto Principle, or the 80-20 principle. Basically 80% of the results you get come from only 20% of the effort you do. So, in reality if you figure out what 20% of work you do accounts for that 80% of results, and you do that 20% of stuff at the beginning of the day; you can do nothing the rest of the day.
I mean, you might still want to do stuff. However, it will be possible for you to do nothing the rest of the day because statistically speaking…you will not be productive after you do that first 20% of work. Hmm…this is why the whole “40 hour work week” blows my mind. Too many people are doing nothing for 80% of the time but getting paid for it? (Entrepreneurship FTW!)
The next principle might blow your mind a little bit. I hope not too much, because you’ll need your mind. It’s full of good stuff.
Parkinson’s Law: Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.
If you’re like me, you’re probably thinking “WTF?!” and yes, that’s exactly what you should be thinking.
So, I’m going to give you an example of how this has been true in my procrastination in college phase of life.
Random fact: the first big word I learned was Procrastinate.. not sure if I should be proud of that or not, but it’s true. You can ask my mom.
Okay so work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. It was Junior year and I was given a task. “Write a 10 page paper that will be due at the end of the semester”. AHA as I think to myself the first week of classes, I don’t need to worry about this, I have all semester! What happens next is something that could have turned into a horror story. It’s finals week and I haven’t done the paper. In fact, I’ve been getting drunk and meeting people and having fun so who cares about papers? Well, college cares and so does my professor.
The professor cared so much that she only gave me 1 day to write this paper. Err…yes, only 1 day to write it! What a mean professor, doesn’t she realize it’s my friends birthday and I’m in college? College is supposed to be fun, not full of papers.
So what happened next could be described as a miracle, or as a fact that Parkinson’s Law does work. I finished the paper in about 5 hours. Caffeine was involved and so was a 30 minute meditation session and 30 minutes of mind-mapping. So, I basically went from having nothing done, to having the paper done. How?
Well, it’s simple really.
I could have done the paper in 2 different ways. I could have started the first week of class, working here and there on the paper and touching it up throughout the semester. OR, I could not care about the paper until the day before it was due and then write it then. I made the college level decision to wait until last minute and ended up winning in the end. However, the fact of the matter is that it would have taken me the same amount of time throughout the few months of college (10-20 minute chunks once a week) or 5 hours straight.
If you give yourself 2 hours to write an e-mail that should only take 5 minutes, you’ll find a way to waste the other 1 hour 55 minutes. In my case, it would probably be watching videos or reading. If I’m given 3 minutes to write this e-mail, I’ll find a way. We merely learn to get to the core essentials and only do what’s necessary.
Implement the Pareto Principle & Parkinson’s Law into your life to be more successful.
Write down your core tasks on your to-do list and allot a smaller amount of time to do things so you are forced to achieve more in less time, with less effort. This will allow you to juggle more projects and have more free time to spend doing cool stuff, like learning to juggle.