Time Keeps on Slippin’, Slippin’ …

timemanagementYesterday was not a great day. I stayed in bed too late, just managed to eek out the bare minimum requirements for a work day and ended up carrying over a whole lot of tasks from yesterday to today.

Because I slept late yesterday, I really wasn’t tired last night so I stayed up super late watching shows on my computer. I knew if I went in the bedroom to my comfy bed and a room that stays pretty dark all day until the sun comes around the building to set in the evening, I would sleep late again this morning and begin a dangerous pattern. So instead I slept on the couch in the living room.

This doesn’t always work because the couch can be quite nice on snowy days, but most days it is impossible to stay there once the sun comes up. My window is huge and lets in all the sunlight.The sun helps to heat the front part of the apartment in the morning. In warmer months it will be sweltering in that part of the place. So, if I catch my sleep pattern getting off track I will sleep on the couch because I know that will ensure I get up by 8 am in winter, and much earlier in the summer.

It worked! I was up and at ’em before 8 this morning, despite not going to sleep until sometime around 2:30 am. And already I am working through my list scratching things off. There is nothing quite so rewarding as checking things off your To Do list and feeling like you are accomplishing something.

On Tuesday I attended a Time Management session with the crew at work. It was Jim Rohn’s tips and I jotted some notes that I wanted to share here so I will always have them and you might also benefit from his wisdom.

The session began with the question, “When is the best time to start your day?” The answer is, “As soon as you have it finished.”

Don’t start the day until it is finished. When it comes to time management this might seem like a no brainer to make a plan before you start the day, a list of the places you need to go, the people you need to see, the discussions you will have, the things you need to do, etc. It might seem like a no brainer to use a day timer or a calendar or sticky notes or something to write your plan for the day before you start it, and yet a lot of the time we don’t do it, or should I say, I don’t do it. I do make lists, don’t get me wrong, but I haven’t always been consistent with it when it comes to just planning the day, every day.

I’m really good at making shopping lists. I hate going into a grocery store and not having my list with me because then I always forget something that I have run out of and I really need and I end up buying other things that I don’t really need but I saw them and picked them up just because I felt like it. When I go grocery shopping without a list I spend WAY too much money, buy things that I won’t use, forget things I do use, and spend twice as long in the store just wandering around looking at stuff. It isn’t a win on any level, and I try really hard to never be in the position of doing the shopping without a list.

Well, so it is for all the other areas of life too. When we don’t have a list, a plan, we forget things that we really needed to do. We get off track and waste time doing things that really didn’t need doing. We end up spending more time doing the things we do because we don’t have the focus and direction. And if you think of time as being money or having value, then we do end up losing money because we’re wasting time or being pulled around reacting to different situations that come up.

When I think of it this way, it makes even more sense to not start the day until I have it finished. Jim Rohn carries that concept on to the week, don’t start the week until it’s finished. That’s what I attempted to do this week. I sat down on Sunday and made a plan for the week that I’ve been following, adding new tasks, projects, meetings each day as they crop up new. The week hasn’t been perfect, but it’s been better, and already I can see how much more productive and less stressed I would be if I did this all the time. Investing a couple of hours on a Sunday to make a week plan, investing 20 minutes every day to review and revise the day’s plan, really saves so much time when it’s all said and done. I can see that already.

He goes on to say don’t start the month until it’s finished. I haven’t really gone there yet, although I do have pertinent dates highlighted on the calendar, like when ads close for the magazine, when we go to print, etc. It’s very general. I haven’t sat down and actually taken a few minutes to think about the coming month and my plan for it. Obviously, he doesn’t mean that you plan every moment of every day and take days to make the plan. It’s more of making yourself aware of all that is coming up in the month. The further out you go, the less detail there will be. Like don’t start the year until it’s finished. That is your goal setting for the year, defining the key areas you want to focus your attention on. You start with your goals for the year, what do I have to do this month to work toward them? What do I have to do this week to work toward them? What do I have to do today to work toward them?

Aha! This requires discipline, but after awhile it would become a habit, and I’ve successfully developed a lot of new habits in the past so I could do this too. Just think about how much I might accomplish if I didn’t start until it was finished? Wow! I would be awesome!

Jim Rohn said human beings are the only ones that don’t necessarily become all that they were meant to be. A tree will grow as high as it possibly can, its roots will burrow in the ground as deep and strong as it can, its leaves will sprout as much as it can … a tree will always be all that it can possibly be. But human beings have been blessed (or cursed) with the ability of free choice. We can choose to only be 10% of all that we can possibly be, and why not choose that if it’s easier and we can get by? If we want to become all that we were meant to be, we need to choose to do so, it’s not going to just happen on its own.

But all that you are meant to be doesn’t necessarily mean that you can and should do everything. If you are struggling step down to something easier. If you have no time to spend with your family because you are always working, consider joining a slower group, stepping down to something easier. When we don’t have the skill set to succeed at something we can compensate by working longer and harder than other people who have better skills than us, but that only works in the short term for health reasons. That’s how Jim Rohn started out, all work all the time, and finally he asked himself, “What if I got rich and I was too ill to spend it?” That’s when he started working smarter, not harder. When our skills improve we don’t need to work as long and hard to maintain our place.

One of the things that really stood out to me in the presentation was, “Either you run the project, or it runs you.” That hit home. He talked about how he would start a project and in the beginning he was in control and then a year later that same project would be pushing him around. I can relate. That’s happened to me with a lot of projects. I start out all excited and on top of everything and then as things move along I loosen my grip and the whole thing spirals to me just reacting to situations as they occur instead of leading the project. And this is exactly what I hope to change this year.

He said lots of other helpful things about working while you’re at work, playing while you’re at play, become more aware of what is stealing your time, learn to think on paper by using a project book and a day timer or journal, don’t mistake movement for achievement, etc. But the last thing that really struck a chord with me was, “All work is good. No job is menial.” I have struggled with this too, feelings of being unsuccessful and less than because I was stuck doing some menial tasks that any trained monkey could do. And those feelings might fester into resentment, and when you’re feeling unsuccessful, meaningless, and resentful, you are not very effective at your job. So hearing that all work is good, no job is menial, really broke a barrier for me that had already begun to crumble but this was the final blow. Every seemingly menial task is another stepping stone toward my ultimate success, it’s another building block toward reaching my goals, so therefore it really IS good work and not at all menial.

All work is good! And now I am off to do good work!

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