How to Be Ruthlessly Intentional with Your Time (Because You Have No Other Choice)
For years, since the birth of my son, I’ve been placed in a situation where I had a lot I wanted to do and not a lot of time to do it.
Because of that, I’ve learned how to be absolutely ruthless with my time.
The reality is, you only have so much time on your hands and whatever it is that you want to do with your life is likely going to take a lot, if not all, of it. And so, if you need to give all of yourself to accomplishing your goals and dreams, whether that’s to start your own business, write a book, or be the best mother or father you can be to your children, you also need to learn how to be ruthless with your time too.
The opposite scenario? You die without living up to your expectations. Sorry to be so straight with you, but that is what’s at stake.
We must use time creatively.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
Over the years, I’ve found all kinds of little tricks and strategies for getting the most out of my time. Most of it was born out of necessity and therefore the tips and strategies I’m about to mention might sound a bit extreme.
However, if you’re truly serious about making something happen you need to do everything you can. Between surprises and setbacks, you’ll need every edge you can get if you want to ensure your success. This is a very important point that most people I’ve spoken to on similar subjects don’t realize.
With that said, here are my tips for becoming ruthlessly intentional with your time and getting the most out of every minute of each day:
Choose not to be around people that don’t serve you
This isn’t always possible, but when it is, it’s critical.
It might sound a little extreme to completely separate yourself from anyone who doesn’t serve you– even if they’re friends or family– but these types of people will suck the life right out of you if you let them. And, the truth is, if they’re so toxic they probably don’t really care about you anyway and aren’t the kind of people you should be around regardless of what you want to do with your life, so you’re doing yourself a favor on multiple fronts.
Find what’s essential and remove the rest
Like toxic people, you need to be willing to separate yourself from other things that don’t serve you as well. The most common culprits include smaller distractions like:
- Social media
- Apps like mobile games
- And gossip sites
And social activities like:
- Drinking nights
As well as other activities that aren’t necessarily bad for you, but which don’t necessarily contribute to furthering your goals (this is the really ruthless part). Examples include just hanging out with friends more often than you feel like you can manage, watching T.V., and playing video games. That’s not to say you shouldn’t do any of these things, but you do probably need to cut them down greatly (unless they’re relevant to what you do, of course).
Learn to say no
Some of us have a hard time saying no. I’ve often found that the people who have a hard time saying no– whether it’s your friends asking you to go out or someone repeatedly asking for your assistance– are the ones who are most helpful, so they develop this sort of idea that if they say no they’re letting someone down.
However, if you continue to give and never take your own well-being into consideration, you won’t be of much use to yourself or others. And there’s no way you’ll ever accomplish your goals.
And you don’t have to say no forever. You just have to consider your own well-being, goals, and time in that equation with everything else. So, maybe this means more “not right now” than “not ever” if that makes things easier for you. Whatever the case, exercise the power to say no and take control of your time.
Squeeze time to make progress out of everywhere
This is all about finding little moments throughout the day that you can fit in a little bit of progress.
Examples of little moments I’ve found for myself include:
- In the morning: Rising a little earlier is absolutely one of the best and “easiest” ways to find some extra time.
- On your work break: Most of us do nothing but sit on our phone for a few minutes or eat a snack. Why not read a book or article relevant to your goals or listen to a podcast?
- Vacation days: How serious are you about realizing your goals? Serious enough to use your vacation days to devote to spending some extra time realizing them? If so, this can be just the time you need to jumpstart a project (and, the truth is, if you’re exhausted then a vacation isn’t what you really need).
- Waiting: Waiting in line, at the doctor’s office, in your car, or any other time you’re waiting is a chance to do something. Depending on what your goals are, having access to audiobooks and podcasts on your phone or a paperback in your bag, will be hugely beneficial. Keeping a tablet on you for work or editing text or following important news about your space on your smartphone are also great options as well if that’s relevant to the kind of work you do.
The possibilities are endless here and you’ll find little moments like this that are completely unique to your own life, so keep an eye out and continue to find new ways to be ruthless with your time.
By utilizing each of the above tips and strategies you’ll be able to find more time to devote to the things that matter to you while weeding out the things that are inessential to accomplishing your major goals. It’s tough, as these aren’t easy choices to make, but if you want to realize your dreams you have to be willing to do what it takes.