Happiness is a state of mind. So is success. And lack of time management skills is the biggest impediment to developing a winner's mindset.
Far too many people waste time trying to buy happiness when it does not cost a rupee. Some people just wish and dream of a day when they’ll be able to afford the things they feel will make them happy and successful, like a new home, exotic vacations, and more. In comparison, others work to make their dreams come true.
Happiness is a state of mind. So is success. To get yourself into this state of mind, you have to develop daily habits that don’t hold you back but instead help you get more done during the day, meet obligations with ease, and lie down at night with a smile on your face because everything’s headed in the right direction.
The Obstacle of Time Management
The most significant barrier to feeling happy and successful is the lack of time to do all we want. Taking on too much at once can lead to a time crunch. So can procrastination. Many people make the business of not planning their time – especially if something isn’t scheduled or due right away.
It can be too easy to think that you have plenty of time, so you do something else first (or, if we’re honest, waste time on social networking sites). Then before you know it, you’re facing a deadline without being sure of having enough time to get it done.
10 Daily Time Management Habits of happy and successful people
The following tips will help you find more hours in the day and feel less overwhelmed by the tasks facing you:
1. Clarify your future
If you try to achieve something because everyone else is doing it without considering your happiness and success, it will be a long, hard struggle to get what you want – if you get it at all. Some people make plans well ahead of time, and others do it in smaller increments.
You might plan for something you want to achieve for happiness and success next month or the next day. But have an idea of how you want your day to unfold. Be specific, not vague – that way, you have a way to measure whether or not the day was a “win.”
Be very clear about your aims and ambitions, both short and long-term. Write them down. Once you know what you want to achieve (and why), it’s easier to decide what needs doing and plan accordingly.
2. Focus on your top priorities
You’ll be more productive and profitable if you identify and focus on the areas most important to you during the day. Work on the fundamentals first. The Latin word ‘fundamentum’ means foundation – so take action, build strong foundations, and the rest would follow.
You don’t want to tackle a big project all at once. It can lead to you feeling overwhelmed. The best way to handle this is to break down the project into mini tasks. Use a calendar or other means to divide a big goal into chunks, and schedule quiet time for working on these chunks. If you have a project that you know will take three months to complete, do a little bit of work on it each week. This way, you will know the top priorities for the week.
This way, you would have completed your job thoroughly and professionally by the due date. Rushed jobs can often affect the quality of the finished product, and you don’t want to present work that’s less than your best effort.
3. Schedule your priorities and account for uncertainties
Decide your daily principles, not the tasks. Then, write your top three priorities for the day in your work planner (you have one of those, don’t you?) to set aside a realistic block of time for your priority actions. Keep a chunk of time free for the uncertainties and contingencies that are bound to come up during the day. This reduces anxiety over not having enough time and keeps you focused.
4. Make it a point to say No!
Consider Jim Rohn’s suggestion. “Learn how to say no. Don’t let your mouth overload your back.” Always check your schedule before committing to anything new. Don’t allow others to divert you from your objectives.
There are ways to politely say ‘No’ at work and still be considered a team player. Practice saying No. You can start by saying No to something unimportant daily at work and take it a step further.
5. Have a support group and create enabling systems
Success is teamwork; you can’t achieve it by staying apart from the team. You can’t do everything alone, even as a business owner. Have a support group with whom you can consult daily. Create supportive systems, including processes and tools for filing, management information, and communication processes and tools.
Processes are what will bring you results, and you will derive happiness from the results.
6. Take a reality check
Will your current activity have a positive outcome, or are you doing it to keep busy or avoid something else?
Ask yourself: Will what I am doing take me closer to my goal? As Peter F Drucker observed, “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”
It is more important to have meaning in your life than busy hours in your day. Having a choc-a-bloc calendar is more a sign of escapism than a successful mindset.
It’s tempting to do something yourself when you think you can do it faster and better. But consider the long term – delegation now will save time in the future and, if done well, can motivate your staff, boost their confidence and help develop their skills.
Outsource the work that someone else can do, but is usually a big time drain on your time. Focus on the skills you excel at and enjoy most – and find others to take over the tasks you least enjoy. This way, you remove several tasks from your own to-do list. The work still gets done, and you are free to do other, more important activities.
Delegation saves you time and money and allows you to be more productive – all crucial ingredients to be happier and more successful.
8. Rinse and repeat your success
Remember the last time you went away on holiday, and how you got so much done in those few days before you left? What strategies and techniques did you employ that made you so effective and focused? Can you repeat them? Alternatively, imagine you are going away tomorrow and work through today accordingly.
Be fully present in everything you do every single day. Refuse to let yourself go through life on autopilot. You can tell if you’re on autopilot if you finish doing something, but you can’t remember parts about doing the task.
9. Protect your sleep and family time
You sabotage your success by not getting enough sleep.
Losing sleep leads to feelings of unhappiness, anxiety and irritability. Plus, when you don’t get the rest your body needs, it leads to a loss of productivity. You will begin to slow down physically and cognitively because your body can’t function at top performance when it doesn’t have enough sleep, making you sluggish and unhappy.
Similarly, family time is essential for mental peace and happiness. Work is only a portion of your life. There are other aspects to it. When you allow work to take over, it throws everything else out of balance. All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.
Break the habit of checking phone notifications immediately after they pop up. Control your online habits for effective time management. Formally schedule personal activities too, so you make time for family, friends, your health and fun because having a balanced life reduces stress and increases energy levels. Time management is really about life management!
10. Stop working at a fixed time and plan well at the end of the day
Life is a series of seconds, minutes and hours each day. Working hard does contribute to your happiness and success. But there’s a reason that taking time off work is important. Time off helps you recharge your batteries and enables you to relax and not lose sight of the big picture of your life.
You’ll be happier if you set work boundaries. People with a definitive line between work and off-time are far more successful. Not doing this will lead to unhappiness, poor health and stress and can negatively affect your intimate relationships. Besides, having a predetermined quitting time will enable you to enjoy the fruits of your labour!
Utilise your day-end to plan for the next day. At the end of the working day, tidy your desk, make notes about what needs doing tomorrow and prioritise those tasks. You’ll worry less that evening and be prepared and focused the following day.
The Last Word
Start slowly. Don’t try to implement a bunch of new daily habits all at once. It takes 21-45 days for a new habit to take root, so don’t beat yourself up if you’re slow to implement them regularly.
The key to your happiness and success lies in consistency. Be consistent with one habit before going on to another. Before long, you’ll start noticing positive changes that will motivate you to continue daily.
You will become a good time manager, which will be a significant step for your happiness and success.
Always have more to do in less time? Too busy making a living to enjoy your life? Take the free 'My Time Management Style' Assessment to enhance your productivity and have a personal life.
Smita D Jain is a Certified Personal Empowerment Life Coach, Executive Coach and NLP Practitioner. Smita’s ‘Empower Yourself’ Personal Clarity Coaching Programs enable busy professionals unhappy in their jobs to find time for their passions and transform them into professions so that they work because they want to, not because they have to.
Prior to her journey as a coach, Smita had extensive experience of 14 years as a corporate and business strategy professional with Fortune 500 companies. She is also a speaker at various public forums, a published writer, and an Amazon bestselling author.