I meet folks from all professions and walks of life when I speak as The Inefficiency Assassin. I also have wonderful phone coaching clients all over the world.The number one question I get asked is, “What is the best _____ to use in order to have more time in the day?” You can fill in the blank with such words as calendar, file folder, file cabinet, task app, cord manager — you name it. I’m always asked about a product. Everyone wants to know the secret quick fix.
How to create the time you want to live the life you want
Depending on how much time I have at that moment, I try to briefly explain that tools are just tools and won’t work unless something else, something bigger— an extreme strategy — is learned.Since you and I have the time right now, let’s talk about what that mind-bending concept is.
What is the key to organization and productivity?
What is the key to creating the time to be happy and live a life with purpose?
Here’s a hint: you already possess the most critical tool a person needs in order to be successful with time management.
It’s your brain!
Now, don’t get me wrong; calendars and apps are tools you can utilize. But the key tool is your brain — because it’s your brain that decides what goes on those calendars and what tasks get added to those apps or lists, whichever you choose to use to track what you need to do.
Your Secret Weapon Is…
Your brain is in total control of everything you do. It decides how much time you waste and how much time you utilize. It decides whether you’ll procrastinate or jump in and get things done. Your brain determines your reaction and response to every person who communicates with you and every situation in which you’re placed. And if you’ve got too much spinning around up there, you can end up with brain constipation.
It’s important to understand that you can’t be on autopilot. You must be conscious, aware, intentional, present, cognizant — whichever term you prefer to use — regarding your decisions about how you use your time.
Creating and Caring for Your Secret Weapon
To carve out the time to be happy and to live a life with purpose, we must Create Clarity and learn to care for and utilize our secret weapon — our brain.In order to Create Clarity, we must implement the following three concepts:
- Capture our priorities
- Identify our targets
- Reflect with power
Capture Your Priorities
Make any and all decisions in work and life based on your priorities. Post your priorities in a place where you can view them daily.
Capture Your Personal Priorities
1. Brainstorm: Write down (on paper or digitally) everyone and every goal that’s important to your life.
2. From this list, write down your top three or four personal priorities.
3. View your personal priorities list every day.
4. Make decisions in your personal life and in your work life based on these priorities.
Capture Your Work Priorities
1. Brainstorm: Write down (on paper or digitally) every belief, objective, and concept that’s important to your work.
2. From this list, write down your top three or four work priorities.
3. View your work priorities list every day.
4. Make decisions in your personal life and in your business life based on these priorities.
In order to stay focused on what you’re trying to accomplish in your career, you need to understand what your priorities in life are. We often think we know what they are because we’ve casually thought about them from time to time, but until we set our priorities down on paper (or in the computer) in a place where we can view them on a daily basis, they do not become ingrained in our thoughts. And when they’re not ingrained, we tend to lose sight of the big picture and wind up lost — off our path, in the opposite direction of our mission.
When we move from having thoughts float around between the conscious and subconscious parts of our brains, to having those thoughts reside fully in the conscious part, we become more aware and focused. That’s what happens when we write down our goals and view them daily. They’re no longer random thoughts that pop in and out of our minds. The wiring in our brains that helped us to capture these ideas helps us to turn those random thoughts into focused goals.
The next time your brain tries to drag you away from the present and you have to decide whether to follow that tangent, or the next time someone asks you to do something, make a decision based on the priorities that you’ve just written down.
Will doing xyz task help you to achieve a priority on your list?
If the answer is yes, get it done. If the answer is no, don’t do it.
Plot Your Next Steps
- When, each day (or evening), will you view these lists?
- Viewing your priorities lists on a daily basis has most likely not been a tactic you’ve applied regularly. How will you remind yourself to do this every day?
- Where can you store these lists so that you can readily view them when you need to make a decision?
Identify Your Targets
Make any and all decisions in work and life based on your targets. Post your targets in a place where you can view them daily.
Capture Your Personal Targets
1. Take out the personal priorities list that you created in the previous section.
2. From this list, write down your top three personal (and measurable) targets.
3. View your personal targets list every day.
4. Make decisions in your personal life and in your work life based on these personal targets.
Capture Your Work Targets
1. Take out the work priorities list that you created in the previous section.
2. From this list, write down your top three work targets. (These also should be measurable.)
3. View your work targets list every day.
4. Make decisions in your personal life and in your business life based on these work targets.
According to multiple studies, we are more successful when our goals are challenging yet realistic — and they can be measured. When your goal cannot be measured,it’s easy to bow out and, therefore, never obtain the success you want.The research says it all. Be specific.
Because most people never sit down to define specifically what it is they want, they feel as if they’re constantly chasing what they can’t reach. But if you don’t know what you’re aiming for, how do you know that you’re not there already?
How do we know if we’ve hit the bull’s-eye if we don’t know what the target is?
So many times, we feel like we need to keep burning the midnight oil because we haven’t made it yet. In actuality, many of us have accomplished far more than the average bear, but we haven’t given ourselves credit because we didn’t know what our specific target was in the first place.
A major snag in the goals lists I’ve seen people create is that they contain intangible or unmeasurable goals. When I ask clients what their goals are, here are typical examples they give:
I want to. . .
- be successful in my career
- make enough money to support my family
- spend time with my family
- be healthy
- be happy
If your health is one of your priorities, you can choose a target related to it,like walking 30 minutes each day. If spending time with your spouse is a priority,you can choose a target related to that, like spending two solid hours with him/her this weekend. Creating a specific target from your priorities list will help you to focus on creating a life outside of work. Having this target will help your brain to make better decisions about how you use your time.
Plot Your Next Steps
- When, each day (or evening), will you view these lists?
- Viewing your target lists on a daily basis has most likely not been a tactic you’ve applied regularly. How will you remind yourself to do this every day?
- Where can you store these lists so that they’re available for you to view when you need to make a decision?
Reflect with Power
At the end of each day, celebrate all your wins — both minuscule and grand —as well as what you have in your life, before trying to improve upon what didn’t work. Never start with, “I didn’t get xyz done.”
Take a few moments each day (or at least each week) to reflect on what you’ve been doing to work toward your personal priorities and targets and your work priorities and targets.
- What tasks (small, medium, large, and extra-grande) did I finish and need to celebrate?
- Have I stopped and made any decisions based on my priorities and targets?(Celebrate!)
- Have I said no to something that wasn’t going to fully benefit me? (Celebrate!)
- What worked? (Celebrate! And keep doing this.)
- What are the lessons I learned from all this good stuff I did?
Reflecting on at least one positive step forward will give you the encouragement you need to stay focused on your personal and work priorities and targets,which will help you to make better decisions about how you use your time. This is reflecting with power.
Next, ask yourself:
- What glitches occurred?
- Why did they happen?
- What did I learn from what transpired?
- What can be done to prevent them from happening again?
- What do I need to make more time for?
- What do I need to take off my plate to make more time for that?
When most folks reflect, they skip the prior “round one” positive questions and celebrations. They instead start and stop with only the first question in this“round two” section. And then they stay frustrated. Raise your hands in the air and let out a big “Yahoo!” for taking the time to reflect with power on all these questions, as doing so will increase your positivity and brainpower, which will in turn improve the decisions you make about how to use your time.
Reflection is an important part of any improvement process. But if we focus on chasing unrealistic dreams, and we never acknowledge what we have in front of us, we pretty much just end up frustrated from chasing our tail in circles. Too many times we try to hunt down something that won’t necessarily benefit us or that we might already have in our lives. This causes us to spend time and resources on something we don’t actually need. We will also stay frustrated and beaten down if we keep focusing on everything we haven’t done.
When we don’t take the time to reflect with power, we often just focus on what’s left on our never-ending to-do list. That’s definitely not motivating. We also tend to focus on what went wrong. This is also not motivating. For example,if you say something like this at the end of each day, it’s going to get depressing:
“All I got done today was. . .”
Egad! Start with what you did get done. You might learn that you’ve accomplished more than you ever thought you would. You just haven’t given yourself credit for it yet. When you start with what you accomplish, you’ll begin to refrain from using negative language like “all I got done” because you’ll realize how inaccurate the “all I got done” phrase is.
Capturing wins is so much more encouraging than focusing on deficits!We are pros at picking ourselves apart. That’s why I’m repeating yet again that we must empower ourselves through reflecting first on our victories, large and small.
Plot Your Next Steps
- On what day(s) each week will you have your power reflection?
- Where will this reflection take place?
- What reminder will you set for yourself to make sure that it happens?
Control Time and Live Life on Your Terms
You now have the weapons you need to work efficiently and obtain whatever definition of balance you seek. You can monitor the ebbs and flows of each day and adjust as necessary. You now understand strategies and tactics you can use to bring out your mind management power from deep cover and into your consciousness.
You will be an agent of change in your Time Management Revolution.
You will be productive and have a life outside of your business or your job.
You will create the time to be happy and live a life with purpose.
You will work smarter, not longer.
Time management is all about mind-set and mind management.
It truly is. . . all in your head.
**Based on the book The Inefficiency Assassin: Time Management Tactics for Working Smarter, Not Longer. Copyright © 2016 by Helene Segura. Reprinted with permission from New World Library. www.NewWorldLibrary.com**