Is your "life account" overdrawn?
Yeesh! It's 8:00 pm and you're still
in front of your computer answering emails…again. It
seems like every day is spent digging out of an avalanche
of email, phone messages, and urgent requests that doesn't
leave any time for you-know-who (hint: YOU!) or the priorities
that really matter. By the time Friday rolls around it's easy
to feel your week went careening out of control like some
bad movie of the week car chase.
The solution isn't in another date-planner
system or another priority check list.
Gaining control over your time is nothing short of gaining
control of your life.
By now that voice inside is probably saying "Ya-but…"
You know, "Ya-but my boss insists," or "Ya-but
my client expects it." "Ya-buts" keep you caught
in the loop of believing you have no choice in where your
The good news is, you do have a choice. From CEO to business
owner to file clerk, reclaiming control over your time is
a powerful act of self-mastery. So how do you get started?
Remember The Last Time You Flew
On An Airplane?
The flight attendant instructed parents to put their mask
on first, before placing it on their children. At first that
instruction may seem counter-intuitive. After all, most parents
value their children's lives more than their own. But parents
must take care of themselves in order to take care of a child.
Imagine For A Moment You Are At
Only this time, you have no email or phone calls to respond
to, no interruptions by co-workers or clients (I know, this
seems like a fantasy but stay with me for a moment). Your
day is entirely cleared of obligations. Any task you "should"
"need" or "ought" to do is filed away
out of sight for now. You can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing
the design of your entire day is up to you. Feels pretty good,
Now imagine you have complete choice about what you do on
this day. How would you spend your time? What projects would
get your attention? What pace would you set for yourself?
Take a moment to jot down the two or three items that you
would choose to focus on for the day, asking yourself: "What
really matters most?"
Use Your Beliefs As Your Allies
Many of us have adopted the belief that we have to be instantly
available to everybody. Faced with the inevitable stress this
causes, men turn stoic and women become relentless pleasers.
Our beliefs are strong. Rather than trying to change them,
why not direct them to better serve our desire to respond
to others, and our craving to gain control over our time?
For example, let's go back to your imaginary day where you
call the shots. Remember the items you noted would receive
your attention? Who ultimately benefits by focusing on even
one of those items? By having that person (or people) benefit,
who else benefits?
You see, by focusing on what matters most, you are doing
more good than by allowing yourself to get caught in a storm
of fire fighting. You are creating a chain of benefit that
is larger than just one person.
How Do You Choose What To Work On?
Here's an easy tip. In business, go with what puts you "closest
to the money." In other words, what activities directly
impact the bottom line of your business? Don't be tricked
into thinking this only means choosing quick tasks. Being
closest to the money can also mean choosing a project that
has a positive long-term impact on your bottom line.
In your personal life, choose what puts you "closest
to your heart." That means deepening your relationship
with people you care about…including yourself!
Remember that perfect, imaginary day? Here's my challenge
to you -- why not make it your reality now, not later? This
isn't just about gaining control of your time, it's about
putting yourself in the driver's seat of your life!
The #1 Radical Thing You Can Do To Gain
Control Of Your Time
Schedule time every week that excludes
any interruptions, then guard that time with your life!
Here is how to
make it work:
- Tell your staff no interruptions unless the building
is on fire.
- Turn off your cell phone and your desk phone.
- Think of it as "tithing" your time.
Sound impossible? It won't be if you start with a small chunk
of time. Even one hour will give you the benefit of greater
focus, less stress, and higher productivity.
Think of it as paying yourself first
- in time - before paying anyone else.
You'll not only benefit, you'll also set an example of self-mastery
that can positively impact the lives of everyone around you.
Think "pay it forward" by paying yourself first.
How do you handle the 101 interruptions,
questions, and needs of others that come your way in a day?
- The solution requires boldness and
personal leadership. Let someone else handle it or let it
- If you're seen as the answer person,
switch gears and start asking powerful questions. You'll
feel like someone just lifted a ten-ton brick off your shoulders.
- Just because you can handle
the problem - or answer the question - doesn't mean you
need to. And the other person? They are likely to surprise
both of you with their resourcefulness as they step up to
the plate with their own solution. Questions are the key
to empowering others, as well as freeing you from the tyranny