Most people complain about “not having enough time” but waste hundreds of hours every single month.
They don’t even know how exactly they use the majority of their waking hours but complain about the lack of time.
The harsh reality, however, is that we all have enough time. It’s just a matter of how exactly we use it.
While few people have a sharp mind, clearly mapped out schedules, and a clear goal, most of us struggle to be effective.
And even though being effective can look different for everyone, there are a few core habits that most effective people have in common, regardless of their industry and background.
They put themselves in jail
In jail, you have lots of time and no distractions — the perfect conditions for high productivity.
By putting yourself in a metaphorical jail, you can make the most of your time. You can get your work done effectively and give your best because you don’t need to rush yourself.
In jail, you can tackle one task after the other without stressing yourself because you know that you have enough time to do it all.
You can slow down, focus, and put yourself in a flow state that allows you to be effective instead of busy.
“The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today.”
— Nolan Bushnell
They never aim for 100%
Truly effective people don’t expect to perform at 100% of their capacity all the time. Instead, they leave time for interruptions and unexpected situations because they know these will happen.
You can only control your own behavior, not the actions of others.
And even though you can set boundaries and limit your accessibility, there’s always going to be unexpected distractions.
Being highly effective is not about micro-managing your time but about being aware of the bigger picture.
Don’t expect yourself to give 100% all the time. That’s neither human nor possible.
You can’t stretch your mental and physical abilities without taking breaks and slowing down.
Being effective is not about pushing your boundaries but about finding balance.
Don’t aim to do everything all the time. Instead, focus on doing the few things that truly matter and leave a mark at your own speed.
“Balance is not something you find, it’s something you create.”
— Jana Kingsford
To take smart action, you need to plan ahead, strategize, and think. Even though that might sound obvious, most people don’t do it.
The majority is rushing through their weeks, starting their workdays feeling overwhelmed before even tackling the first tasks, and not allowing themselves to pause for a minute.
And if we dare to take a break, we end up scrolling through toxic social media pages that only remind us of how miserable our lives are.
Instead, we should take mindful breaks, relentlessly eliminate distractions, and allow ourselves to think clearly.
It’s no surprise that Bill Gates started going on Think Weeks back in the 1980s. These breaks helped him zoom out, let go of distractions, and think of his next strategic moves.
If you don’t allow yourself to stop and think, you’ll end up being busy and distracted, having no time for yourself or the things that truly matter.
Your ultimate goal, however, should be the contrary: Being productive instead of busy and making the most of your time.
They (sort of) use the 5-Second Rule
Effective people are quick movers. They simplify problems instead of overcomplicating them. Additionally, they make decisions and take action quickly.
Their sharp minds allow them to be critical and effective.
In her book The 5 Second Rule, Mel Robbins preaches that the moment you have an instinct to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds, or your brain will stop you.
That’s why most of us fail to reach our small daily goals.
We want to build a running habit, but the moment we think of going on a run, our mind holds us back with numerous excuses: it’s too cold, it’s too hot, my back hurts, I’m hungry, I have so much to do,…
In fact, effective people are often in love with baby steps. They choose to move fast instead of looking for excuses.
They take care of themselves
The biggest misconception around being effective is that you need more time. Based on that belief, many people cut down on essentials such as sleep or exercise and stretch their physical limits.
By doing so, they ignore a toxic doom loop: Sleep deprivation leads to a decrease in productivity, they get less done, stay up longer, get even less sleep, and get even less done on the next day.
Add a few shots of caffeine to that equation and you have the perfect foundation for a toxic lifestyle that’ll leave you feeling nervous, anxious, and exhausted all the time.
Effective people, however, do the contrary. They know that keeping their mind and body healthy is essential, so they invest in themselves, even if they have lots to do.
What most people don’t understand is that keeping your body and mind healthy doesn’t require excessive amounts of time or money.
Getting enough sleep, drinking lots of water, and fueling your body with healthy foods isn’t time-consuming or costly. It’s just a matter of discipline.
They ask for help
Quite often, huge success stories look like a one-person show.
Mark Zuckerberg seems to be the one who built Facebook.
Steve Jobs seems to be the only brain behind Apple’s success.
And Oprah seems to be managing her empire on her own.
The reality, however, is that great things are never done by one single person.
We all have unique gifts and talents, but the way to turn those talents into real impact is by collaborating and asking for help.
Great things don’t happen because of you. They happen if you dare to ask others for help.
By doing so, you’re allowing yourself to focus on your zone of genius instead of trying to master everything on your own.
Next time you face a challenge, replace how by who and ask yourself how you can leverage the skills and expertise of others. Most of the time, asking for help helps.
“Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new.”
– Barack Obama
This post is written by Sinem Günel.