We are all busy, I get it.  It seems like, no matter how hard we try, we can never seem to get everything we want done.  We end each day with an unfinished task list and the dread of more items being added to that list in the morning.

There is a better way, and I’m here to personally tell you it makes all the difference in the world.  I’ve implemented the following 5 steps to make sure I’m getting the most out of my time – and even enjoying some free time afterwards.

Step One:

Get Up Earlier

If you haven’t heard the saying “mind over mattress,” you really should file it away in your memory banks.  It’s not uncommon for the world’s top CEOs to start their day well before 6am.  Use this motivation to get two feet on the floor and rolling along earlier in the morning.

If you tend to sleep in late, don’t immediately attempt to wake up 2 hours earlier.  Instead, build yourself up gradually to a target time in 15 minute increments.

Step Two:

Have a Single Focus

Most successful entrepreneurs have a common ability to focus on what matters most, when it matters most.  You would be surprised how effective you can become if you begin to develop a single laser focus on your top priorities.

Pick one thing and do that one thing- and that one thing only until you have reached your accomplished goal.

Step Three:

End Distractions

There are several apps and other solutions avaiable to help you block out distractions such as email or text messages.  Use apps such as Rescue Time to track how you spend your time, and identify any key areas needing improvement.

File away your cell phone for long stints of time and close your email client.  The fewer “dings” and notifications you hear, the better chance you have at staying productive.

Step Four

Rituals Breed Productivity

Set up rituals and habits your follow each day comprised of behaviors that will make you more productive without feeling drained.

Tackle high priority items first, when you have the most energy.  Setup habits that will let you knock out troublesome items in bite-size chunks throughout the course of the day.

Step Five:

Set Strict Meeting Time Limits

I was extremely guilty of this.  It seemed every meeting I was a part of lasted 30 minutes longer than scheduled and about 45 minutes longer than it should.

Setting shorter time limits up front forced our team to focus on getting the critical items accomplished and wasted less time on random conversation.  Suddenly, we found that hour long meetings were now perfectly fit for 45 minutes.  Accomplish this 4 times a day, and you’ve suddenly gained an extra hour for something else on your list.