Focus: Work/Life Balance – Time and Life Management
- The key to controlling your life is controlling your time.
- Identifying your highest priorities is an essential step toward time and life management.
- When you align your daily practices with your identified governing values you will experience inner peace.
- Leaving your comfort zone is uncomfortable but it is a necessary step in your quest to accomplish any goal.
- You can leverage your time by investing a small amount each day in planning. You will enjoy the returns on that investment all day long.
- Your current behavior is a reflection of your core beliefs.
- If you keep these beliefs in line with reality, you will be able to satisfy your needs.
- Negative behaviors that sabotage your best efforts at personal improvement can be overcome by changing incorrect beliefs.
The ten natural laws that lead to successful time and life management can be divided into two categories. The first five laws help you manage your time better. The other five laws give you more control over your life. All relevant time management tips and tricks to keep top of mind.
Law 1: “You control your life by controlling your time.”
You can fall into two common traps concerning time. The first trap is thinking that you will have more time to complete a task at some unidentified point in the future. The other is the idea that you can somehow save time. In reality, you already have all the time there is. Each day has 86,400 seconds and not one can be set aside for the future. When you say, “I don’t have time” to do something you are really saying that, “I am more interested in doing something else.” You have allowed insignificant events like watching TV or doing a crossword puzzle to take away from significant events like spending time with your family. Time is money. If someone could access your bank account and steal all your money, you would be pretty angry. Why should you feel any differently about factors that steal your time? There are two kinds of “time robbers:” self-inflicted (procrastination, perfectionism and poor planning) and those imposed by your work environment (interruptions, unnecessary meetings and red tape). You cannot control all of these time robbers. However, if you identify your main problem areas, you can plan to overcome them. Without this awareness, you are doomed to wasting time in the exact way every day.
Law 2: “Your governing values are the foundation of personal fulfillment.”
What are the highest priorities in your life? Which of those do you value the most? Every person’s answers are different because our core values are individual. There is no perfectly ordered list everyone can follow. You have to discover your values and use them to plan your daily activities. Make your prioritized list with a paragraph that explains what each value means to you. This list is the foundation of your “personal productivity pyramid.”
Law 3: “When your daily practices reflect your governing values, you experience inner peace.”
Inner peace is all about discovering what’s important to you and doing something about it. Take the following four steps to move from identifying your highest values to completing your daily tasks. This is how to build your “personal productivity pyramid” from the ground up:
1) Create the foundation of your pyramid by stating your governing values, principles and beliefs.
2) Translate your principles into goals that you eventually want to achieve. Those long-range goals are the next level of your pyramid.
3) In order to make your long-term goals a reality, set intermediate goals. These form the next level of your pyramid.
4) At the top of the pyramid list the daily tasks you must complete to achieve your intermediate goals.
Law 4: “To reach any significant goal, you must leave your comfort zone.”
Leaving your comfort zone is very difficult. People have a natural tendency to gravitate to places where they feel comfortable, safe and secure. When you set goals you must forsake these old comfortable patterns. Goals are in direct conflict with the status quo. If you were happy with the status quo, you wouldn’t be setting goals. Many people don’t set goals because they fear failing. But, if you remove the possibility of failure, you also remove the chance of success.
Law 5: “Daily planning leverages time through increased focus.”
Spend ten to fifteen minutes each morning planning your day. If you follow through on only one activity suggested in this book after reading it, the morning planning session is the one. If you leverage this small amount of your time, you will reap the rewards the rest of the day. Find out when the “magic three hours” of your day occur. The magic hours represent the block of time in your day when you are generally uninterrupted. This is when you can focus on things besides the normal urgencies and activities of the day. For some people, it might be from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m., for others 11:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. The point of finding your magic three hours is to realize that you already have the 15 minutes you need for planning, you just haven’t been using the time effectively up to now. Keep these six concepts in mind to plan effectively:
1) Choose a work area free from distractions.
2) Align your daily tasks with your defined long-term goals.
3) Don’t plan too many activities. Make sure there is enough time in the day to complete all daily tasks.
4) Your task descriptions should be specific.
5) Be ready for obstacles. Have a plan for dealing with them if they arise.
6) Prioritize. If you are unable to accomplish everything, at least you can accomplish what is most important.
Follow these steps to make a prioritized daily task list:
1) First – and in no particular order – list everything you would like to accomplish at work, with your family and for your community, including non-urgent tasks.
2) Assign a value to each item. Everything that is absolutely vital and must be completed gets an “A.” Give a “B” to tasks that are important and should be completed. Mark all the rest of the items, which are probably trivial or optional, with a “C.”
3) Go back to your “A” list and give a numerical value to each task. The most important task becomes A-1, next most important A-2 and so on. Do the same with your “B” and “C” lists.
Law 6: “Your behavior is a reflection of what you truly believe.”
Use the “Franklin Reality Model” to help people see the clear connection between beliefs and behavior. People don’t change their behavior unless it is in their self-interest. The Franklin Reality Model has two major functions. First, it gives you a picture of what is going on in your life. It helps you see the results of your behavior, so you can decide whether your beliefs are serving your interests. The model also lets you evaluate beliefs before they affect your behavior. Then, you can decide whether alternative beliefs might spur the behavior you seek. The model starts with “Needs.” We all share four basic needs: The need to live, the need to love and be loved, the need to feel important and the need to experience variety. Picture these four needs as quadrants in a “Wheel.” When all your needs are met, the wheel rolls forward smoothly. But, if a basic need is not being met, the wheel flattens in that area and you become stuck. Until you are able to fulfill this need, you are unable move forward with your life.
The second element, the “Belief Window,” provides direction for your “Needs Wheel.” Many of your beliefs are those you think help you meet your basic needs. For example, a belief that “smoking causes lung cancer” is related to your need to live. Everything you believe to be true about the world is written on your belief window. Identify the beliefs on your window and change the ones that are incorrect or inaccurate.
The third element of the model is “Rules.” For each of your beliefs, you create rules that govern your behavior. These if-then statements change your beliefs into actions. For example, if “smoking causes lung cancer,” your rule might be, “I will never smoke.” These elements generally operate at the subconscious level. The fourth element, “Behavior Patterns,” is where something physically happens. If your belief is that “smoking causes lung cancer” and somebody offers you a cigarette, you turn it down and say, “I don’t smoke.” Your behavior patterns lead to the final element of the Franklin Reality Model: “Results and Feedback.” Results make this model a powerful tool in gaining control of your life. Determine if your behavior results in meeting your needs. If so, this feedback tells you, your beliefs are correct or harmless. Remember though, it often takes time to measure results.
Law 7: “You satisfy needs when your beliefs are in line with reality.”
To find out if you have a correct belief (a belief that is in line with reality), ask yourself ‘do the results of my behavior help satisfy one of my four basic needs?’ If they do, you probably have a correct belief. Remember, the results of some actions take many years to measure. Sometimes you can beat the odds for a while. Because of this, you should test your beliefs two ways. First, test them through your own experience. Then, test them against the experience of others. Say you like to drive 20 miles above the freeway speed limit. And, you have never had an accident caused by speeding. You might conclude through this experience that your belief (“I am a competent enough driver to ignore speed limits”) is correct. But, if you examine that same belief through the experience of others by looking at traffic accident statistics, you would be less inclined to believe that it is correct.
Law 8: “Negative behaviors are overcome by changing incorrect beliefs.”
Whether or not your beliefs are correct, incorrect (that is, they do not reflect reality) or a matter of opinion or preference, you assume all of your behaviors are correct and act accordingly. Correct beliefs produce positive behavior. Incorrect beliefs produce negative, self-defeating behavior and can destroy your best attempts to take control of your life. How can you overcome negative behavior? The first step is coming to grips with the fact you have a problem. The next step is to realize that you have an unmet need which is causing your behavior. At that point, you can usually identify one or more incorrect beliefs. The final step is to replace those negative beliefs with correct ones. If you are committed to your new beliefs, your behavior should change automatically.
Law 9: “Your self-esteem must ultimately come from within.”
When you seek the approval of others you are pressured into behaving contrary to your core values. You behave according to their values and principles rather than your own. Living like this is incredibly stressful and highly reactive. When you define your self-worth by the opinions of others or by your material possessions, you get in big trouble over the long run. Your self-worth cannot be based on anything outside yourself. Feeling good about yourself is essential to inner peace. Your governing values form the true foundation for healthy self-esteem. Occasionally examining your beliefs will help you eliminate self-defeating behavior.
Law 10: “Give more and you’ll have more.”
If you have more than you need, you have a moral responsibility to share the excess with others who have less than they need. When you do this, a natural law of human behavior will kick in. Much good will result. Sharing your excess with others — particularly those who have proven through hard work, loyalty or even friendship that they deserve it — will help your assets grow faster than if you hoard the excess for yourself. The best way to achieve an abundance of anything is to share it. Hoarding causes envy and resentment while sharing expands the sense of ownership. If everyone who developed a large amount of wealth saw their role as stewardship, then poverty, suffering and pain could be greatly reduced.