For almost all of us, 2020 has not gone to plan. No matter whom we wanted to visit or where we wanted to travel, some things simply have not been possible. But regardless of what you have planned or where you want to go in 2021, I have two strategies to help make the most of the upcoming year.
The first is to be a student of your calendar. One of the greatest increases in productivity I’ve seen in my life has come from studying my calendar. When you look at it, you are paying attention to and giving intention to your actions. I don’t mean that you should just see what you have on your schedule; instead, focus on three different areas of your life.
To start, examine the activities that you have planned for the day, paying particular attention to what you have regularly scheduled. Look to create efficiencies with your daily habits. For example, I have a 5/20 rule, where I try to schedule five-minute phone calls and have 20-minute in-person meetings to keep things focused and not waste time unnecessarily. One tip to be efficient with your regular tasks and activities is to look for ways to save four minutes a day. If you can find four minutes every single day, that equals 24 hours per year.
Also make sure to study what you don’t have planned in your calendar, or what some call the “white space.” Look at that time through the three lenses of productivity, accessibility and gratitude—what I like to call the “Meltzer kaleidoscope.” To maximize your productivity, see how you can schedule more of the activities that you get paid for. To be more accessible, consider how you can use open time to connect with your co-workers or the people you care most about. Finally, use gratitude to find the light, love and lessons in everything that you experience—scheduled or unscheduled.
Another area to examine when studying your calendar is your sleep. I’m a firm believer that my tomorrow begins today, so I have a wind-down routine that ensures I wake up on time and re-energized to begin the next day. Sleep is one of the most important needs that we all share and it strengthens us in many ways, which is why it is helpful to build a restorative routine.
The second strategy to make the most of 2021 is to implement the “Do It Now” policy. I know it sounds comically simple, but 100 percent of the things that you do now get done. Putting this into practice is one of the most common traits of high achievers. When given a task, learn to ask yourself whether you can conceivably do it now. If so, go ahead and do it. If you can’t, prioritize and store your tasks based on what you value most. Urgent and important tasks get priority. If an activity is important but not urgent, then plan it in your calendar. If something is urgent but not important, find a way to delegate it.
If you study those three areas of your calendar and use the “Do It Now” strategy, no matter what you have planned, I promise that you will make the most of 2021.
David Meltzer is a business coach, global public speaker and international best-selling author. Learn more at dmeltzer.com