Capacity, my friends, is a state of mind. Hear me out on this one before rejecting this notion completely. I saw a funny tweet the other day that "Everyone has the same hours in the day as Beyoncé." How true that is! The same goes for the highly productive Oprah Winfrey, JLo and the late Steve Jobs. We all have 24 hours between sunrises so the issue is clearly not time -- it is what we do with our time (the same thing has often been said for money -- its not how much we earn its what we do with it, which I totally agree with).
So what do you do with your time? Are you prolific in your passions or are you poignant in your excuses? I have said it before and I will say it again. In life we either have one of two things -- results or excuses. And excuses mean nothing. No one cares! You don't even care, if you are honest with yourself.
Here are my five tips to get more out of your day:
1. Stop screwing around online.
Seriously! Limit social media to 20 minutes per day -- either in five-minute segments or power it out all at once. I dare you. Try it for seven days and see how liberated you feel. The average person checks their phone 110 times a day. This is largely due to the obsessive nature of checking our inbox and our addiction to social networks. Its like we have all gone mad. Who are you expecting a message from -- the queen? Didn't think so. If it's urgent, someone will call you. It also makes you seem cooler and busier if you are not immediately responsive. That wall post, tweet or photo can wait. Your life priorities can't!
2. Be more discerning.
It amazes me in New York how people talk about how busy they are but walk slowly (often peering at handheld devices), take numerous coffee breaks and do a number of non-pressing things -- shopping for sales online, talking about mindless crap in the kitchen, taking 15 minutes to decide what to eat for lunch and staying awake to watch another Sex and the City rerun. Do this instead: turn off the TV; walk a little faster; be a little more decisive; and don't feel bad to not engage in non-constructive, lengthy office chatter. All of these things are habits of successful people. This allows much greater ease into my next point.
3. Get up 30 minutes earlier.
Given you have executed on points one and two and have eliminated a lot of unnecessary activity -- you have time to sleep a little sooner and therefore wake a little earlier. An extra 30 minutes in the morning is golden for your day -- successful people are typically early risers, as they start the day before the world is awake. Use this time for you! Meditate, enjoy walking the dog, have a run, even just have some tea and get to work sooner before the craziness sets in after 9 a.m.
4. Eliminate non-essentials.
This may sound a little harsh, but it applies to many things. Does that email require a response? If not, ditch! Do you really want to catch up for a beer and spend three hours of your life and $65 on a college friend you no longer have stuff in common with? Ditch! Is your desk full of papers from 2013? Ditch! Steven Pressfield in his book Turning Pro, said you have to sacrifice parts of your life and your relationships to get the important stuff -- your true work in this world -- done. This involves receiving some criticism from other people as it includes limiting activities and people you normally give time to. Hey, it's not easy, I know, but success and maximizing your time never is. But when you get used to it, it's freeing and cool.
5. Focus on the life and results you want.
When you are overwhelmed, create a to do list. First, base it on legitimate urgency. Second, base it on how your tasks align with your life goals. Your blog, music lesson and school research may not seem up there but the most important things are often the ones we do out of choice. As I love to repeat -- don't prioritize your schedule, schedule your priorities!
Finally, talk about time as your friend. Our words matter. Never let "I don't have time" pass your lips again. It's factually false and totally disempowering. You are in control of your hours and your life. Seize them!