Does this sound familiar to you: You have this thing that could be so important for you, so you really want to make it happen. You have to make it happen. You start in the day with the first commitment, maybe your kids, it’s priority. Then there is the second, you have to exercise a little, then you have this appointment. Then you try to work a little, but somehow you can’t bring yourself to do the important. There was email. Then you eat. Then you need to do something with your girlfriend. And you need to buy some groceries. Then you cook, and eat again. And finally… the day is over! And you scream: “I need more time! I just have NO TIME!”

Stop.

And breathe. You need to refocus.

Refocus Your Time

Time is one of the most valuable resources you have. How and where you spend your time determines the quality of your life. And you need to get control over your time.

Especially now as I’m personally becoming a father of two baby-girls, I have to rethink how I spend the very little time I have left for me most effectively.

It can be done. Because everybody on the planet has the same amount time. And there are people who get their stuff done.

The first rule of time-management you have to realize is this:

You can’t manage time. But you can manage yourself. [Tweet this!]

How to “Create More Time”

The key to create more time for you is to actively manage yourself better. What you can do is the following:

1. Do Less.

The more you do, the less effective it gets. You simply can’t put enough focus and personal energy into what is most important. This is bad news.

You have to get rid of your time-wasters. The way you do less is to list all tasks that you’re doing right now. Could include private life as well. Then eliminate projects and tasks that are not vital.

You can outsource, get help from other people (in business-speak: delegate), or simplify and really eliminate. This creates clarity and will make you effective.

Refocus your energies on only the most vital things. [Tweet this!]

2. When you Work, You Work.

Make sure that when you work you don’t get interrupted. And you also don’t get distracted, by phone, facebook, twitter. You don’t have a TV running, do you?

Make sure you have a office, even a home-office. And do not make your kitchen table your office. (You will naturally get interrupted).

It takes a little self-discipline to fight procrastination. But the #1 hack is still to do the right thing and have a purposeful direction. Then you don’t need to discipline yourself, simply because you want to do it.

Don’t do anything else then work at your working time. Simply refuse to do something else and rather make your working time more compact. But when you work, you work.

3. When You Don’t Work, You Don’t.

If you spend your time with family and friends, or all by yourself maybe reading, get work out of your sight.

You have to renew yourself. This cycle of balance will make sure that when you come back to work, you are fresh and have energy again.

This can be a challenge because you have to let go of your thoughts after work. And the best way I know of is if you have used your work-time most effectively and are pleased with your personal results. Then you are looking forward to your no-work time, smiling.

4. Have and Defend Your Schedule

Create a fixed schedule for your time.

For instance start at 9 a.m. in the office and work until 5 p.m. Or maybe you want to work until 1 p.m. If you are really focused and effective, this might be enough. I’ve had times where I had this 4 hour work week and was doing great. The key is to be effective while you work and do the most important things first.

5. Obsess About Your Project.

This sounds extreme, but this little mantra was a breakthrough for me. I had difficulties getting myself to do the important work, simply because it was kind of difficult. It was creative work and I had to think deep and get the right insights. So I had to force myself to keep going. But I wanted to find a more natural way that wouldn’t need so much effort to focus my time.

And the one thing that really helped me was to make this project the center of my attention. So if you have an important task that you have difficulties to get done: Obsess over it. When you work, think only about your important project. Try to find ways to make it better. Imagine how it will be when it’s done. Make it your focal point.

This works because then you get tunnel vision. You’re focused single-mindedly and you will enjoy doing great work. If you live and breathe your most important task it will get done.

6. Create Chunks of Time

When you can combine 2 or more things into one chunk of time, you will be more effective and use up less energy and time. For instance if you have to leave your office for a meeting you can probably put something else you have to do outside as well. So you don’t have to leave again later.

You can also chunk similar tasks together. If you are answering emails, you can also anser the post mail.

7. Are Meetings Necessary?

Many of us are still wasting in ineffective meetings. Are these meetings really necessary or can you do the same via email, phone, conference?

Especially if you have to leave your working space, even drive of fly somewhere, is this really necessary?

Maybe you can put a meeting into your lunch-break. This will safe time and you can have a nice conversation there.

8. Learn to Say “No!” More Often

In alignment with hack 1, always ask yourself if it really makes sense to say yes to something. A new commitment is doing more, not less.

So learn to say “No!” more often. It will give you more time for your Yes! Maybe just try it out and see.

9. Start with Your Most Important Task

This is a very productive way because when you start your working day with what is most important you will accomplish 3 great things:

1. You don’t get distracted and side-tracked by “accidents”.
2. You come with full energy to your important task.
3. You are actually doing your most important task.

10.  Disconnect Yourself

If all else fails: shut the doors, cut your internet connection and turn off all devices. Then do your work. This works wonders for me if I just can’t bring myself to getting it done.

Because action trumps everything. Just do it.