Are you a digital Sisyphus?
Sisyphus's punishment, decreed by the gods for his deceitful nature and hubris, was to eternally push a massive boulder up a steep hill, only for it to roll back down each time it neared the top. This enduring, futile labor symbolizes the endless human struggle against tasks that seem to never end.
This story resonates today – we all deal with a perpetual cycle of digital tasks. Just like Sisyphus's boulder, emails, notifications, and online responsibilities can feel like they are constantly rolling backwards, down the hill.
"Getting more time isn't about finding more time. It's about making the time you have count more."
Signs of time management issues often include feeling constantly overwhelmed, missing deadlines, and not having enough time for strategic planning. Recognizing these signs is the first step toward better time management.
Signs You've Lost Control of Your Time
- Too Many To-Dos at Day's End: Consistently ending the day with an overwhelming list of unfinished tasks.
- Never-Ending To-Do List: Feeling like your to-do list is a bottomless pit, constantly growing.
- Leaving Things Unfinished Yet Progressing: Regularly moving forward with tasks left incomplete, creating a cycle of catch-up.
Tackling tasks without a clear strategy can lead to a negatively reinforcing cycle, akin to playing whack-a-mole. You find yourself busy yet unproductive, always dealing with tasks as they come without making significant progress.
The Get-Ahead-30 plan is a strategy I've implemented to break free from this cycle. It involves dedicating specific time slots for future-focused work, allowing me to manage my tasks more effectively.
Here's how to Get Ahead
The Get-Ahead-30 plan is about preemptively addressing future tasks to avoid the pitfalls of reactive work. Here's how to put it into action:
Capture Unfinished Work
Make a comprehensive list of all incomplete tasks. The good news here is you are already doing this! After all, your to-do lists are just sitting there.
Prioritize in One Sitting
Dedicate time to prioritize these tasks based on importance and urgency. The trick is to put all of these open items in a single place so you can look at them collectively.
I usually screenshot all of them and print them out, so I've got a few pieces of paper on the table in front of me. Don't waste time creating new lists or database views.
Carve Out Time for Future Tasks: Once you have the priority items, set aside a block of time to work on tasks for your future self. This could be 4 x 30 minutes or 10 by 12, etc.
The first time around I would give yourself bigger blocks so you can just get things done right. That's ultimately more satisfying (and effective) than getting more things done.
Then take the top items, in order, and do the work on the future versions of that.
Example of Work to Focus On
- Rough outline your newsletters for the next 4 weeks.
- Schedule all community events for the next month.
- Teach someone / delegate a basic task you continually do.
- Record your podcasts/content for the next month.
Yes, I Said Your Future Self
To truly harness the power of the Get-Ahead-30 plan, adopting a ruthless approach is essential. This means being unyielding in prioritizing tasks, understanding that not everything carries equal weight and that saying no is sometimes necessary.
Movie Hack: Just think of your favorite action hero who has to make a super tough decision to move on. Use that as your role model here.
Protecting your scheduled time is crucial; treat these blocks as sacred, non-negotiable appointments with your future self. During these times, your focus should be unwavering.
This level of disciplined commitment is what separates those who struggle to keep up from those who stay ahead.
By objectively managing your time, you can focus on critical tasks without getting overwhelmed by the day-to-day demands.
The Final Word
The only killer app is YOU, learning to shift your mindset towards a proactive ime management approach. Being strategic with your time to align with your long-term objectives and goals is a skill that takes discipline. Learn it and you can 10x your potential.