I simply see too many of us feverishly making lists in an effort to get things done. And once the list is finished, we push back with a false sense that we just accomplished something when all we did was relieve our mind of a swarm of tasks.
List making can be deceptive.
Put down your pen and give yourself two minutes to re-think the whole list making process.
The practice of doing weekly and daily planning are imperative when we want to improve our power of focus – getting the most important things accomplished. The four-step process we advocate when using our iPhone app Today and Not Today can be applied to weekly planning.
Here’s a quick tutorial on how to use the same four-step strategy when planning out your week.
What I know about time management I have harvested through my lack of time and focus management. Many of these lessons were hard-earned.
Asking my mind to function in an abstract-random manner is easy. Asking it to move into linear thought patterns takes more effort.
It’s a good thing that I’m a gifted “connector” who can tinker with what might be un-related concepts and meld them together creating useful insights, tools, and strategies.
I was able to take my hard-earned knowledge from time management, and blend it with the neuroscience concepts I learned as an educator. I took the notion of left and right brain facilitation and added my creative means of staying on focus and the outcome produced the planning tool known as Today and Not Today.
Recently a client asked to me share with him the background and thinking that birthed this tool. So, I spent about eight minutes and in a lucid stream of consciousness gave him what he asked for.
Luckily, he recorded our conversation. And because he is a generous man, he agreed that I could share this information with you.
He and I hope that it will prove useful as you work to enhance your daily and weekly planning.
Many people utilize list making as part of their time and focus management strategy. Lists are great tools. Making one can relieve an over-burdened mind. However, there is an inherent flaw associated with list-making. Those things that come out of our heads and onto the list typically fall out in random order. And a list by nature is hierarchical. Therefore those items that dump out first and land at the top of a list have a built-in association with higher importance no matter if they deserve it or not.
One way to iron out the flaw when making your “to-do-list” is to make it first on sticky notes. Limit one item per note. Then when everything is out of your head, put them into the sequence that makes the most sense to you.
Another way to outsmart the flaw of lists is to use my iPhone app as shown in the movie below.
Coming into today’s coaching session Victoria is preparing to work at a conference that is happening this week. Her roles (she has many) at the conference are varied and critical to growing her new business.
Victoria pulled out the paper version of this tool along with a bunch of sticky notes. As she worked through the weekend this tool supported her so that she cut through what might otherwise have been an overwhelming list of things to do.
Members of the Creative Class take note: just because a big event like this conference is looming, it doesn’t mean that your mind conforms to focus on just that one goal. Putting boundaries around what absolutely needs to be done and when it needs to be done is the key. All of what could get done must be relegated to background noise.
In Victoria’s words, “I had to recognize when enough is enough.”
What reinforced itself for me as Victoria spoke was this: Putting something on the backburner doesn’t mean it will be there forever. Exerting self-discipline to focus only what matters most requires this backburner approach.
I’m wishing Victoria luck this week. As you can see below she has a strong list of services she currently offers as part of her bridge to the future. And, she has a nice set of offerings that are being presented at the conference. If something catches your fancy, you might want to send her an e-mail and expect to hear from her next week rather than today.
One on one coaching;
Executive coaching for
professionals; and Retreat and workshop facilitation to support personal and professional development.
I have come to understand as you may have as well that there is never enough time to do everything. However, there always seems to be enough time to focus on the most critical things. This is one of the reasons I have created the Today and Not Today i-phone app. It is the reason that we created this animation about using a planner. This concept is the reason that no matter who I coach and why they come to me for coaching, we usually end up working on some element of time management.
Time is part of life. Managing it well usually equates to success. So this month I’m going to share the concepts I apply to stay on top of all the stuff I have to do. I hope this handful of items helps you as well:
1) Learn what “enough” means to you. Just as I mentioned above, we don’t have time for everything yet we generally have time for the critical few things that need to be done each day or each week. Focus on those things first and foremost.
2) Plan. I usually take five to ten minutes each morning to plan out the strategy for my day. I don’t use elaborate plans. I simply determine what has to be completed today or else. I prioritize these few items and make time in my schedule to get them completed.
3) Know the difference between planning and scheduling. You’ll need both. Planning means you outline what needs to be done. Scheduling means you know when things are to happen and when tasks are going to get done.
4) Stick with your plan. I admit that I only plan well about four of five days out of each week and I only plan well about 40 of 52 weeks a year. However, I get the most important things done each year because I have enough discipline to stick to my plans about 80% of the time.
There you have it. I’d love to learn what your best time management practices are. Please feel free to post your thoughts here.
Procrastination impedes every single person. You’ve done it and you know it. When we putter instead of getting down to the important things, we are procrastinating. Its okay to admit that you’ve lost yourself in e-mail or on Facebook when you would have been better served making a phone call or finishing up a report. Think about it, do you avoid the unimportant things? Most of us do not.
We usually avoid the significant tasks because they may seem unpleasant, difficult or so important that we get scared about how we’ll measure up to them. So how do we escape postponing those things that give us satisfying results?
Good question. Here are three helpful hints:
First – Admit that you procrastinate. Own it. We all do it. You do it. Stop rationalizing that you don’t.
Second – Charge at the most difficult task on your list each day. Take it out first.
Third – Offer yourself a reward. That’s right! Treat yourself when you complete the hard things.
If these hints are useful, consider sending this or the corresponding video presentation to a friend.