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Strategies And Tools For Time Blocking with Lynda West
On this show, we’re talking about ways to take back your time and be more strategic and more purposeful in the way that you approach things. I’m excited to have Lynda West with me. Lynda is known as the Oprah of San Diego. That’s because she’s so social and interviews everyone. She’s interviewed more than 200 people on her show, Living Live TV. She’s a master connector and the bestselling author of The Year of Fears as well as a few other books. She’s the creator of Finishit Fast Program. Finishing it fast is what we’re all doing, it’s what we want to do. That’s where she turns procrastinators into actionaters. She’s the Facebook Live Queen, having done more than 2,700 Facebook Live videos. That was probably an old number. She’s a mover and shaker. Tell us a little bit about Lynda West. In order to get connected to you, tell us something that you think the entrepreneurs can appreciate what you’ve gone through.
At the age of 51, after working 49 jobs and working as a legal secretary for twenty years and working for a judge in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, I realized that I was spinning my wheels and I wasn’t doing what I was probably put here on earth to do. I started doing some soul searching. I hired a life coach and after working with a life coach for about five months, I realized that corporate work was not for me. I came home one day from work and I told my husband, “I’m quitting my job. This is it. We’re going to figure out what I’m supposed to do here.” That was in 2014.
In the last years, I’ve been spending my time trying to figure out, “What is it that I’m here to do? What is my purpose?” It’s been an interesting journey because it’s taken me through ups and downs, sideways and everything trying to figure it out. Through the journey, I’ve discovered that it’s the journey. I know Harley Davidson says, “It’s not the destination. It’s the journey.” That’s the journey I have been on, is discovering what is it that I have that can help people. I figured it out and it’s been so awesome because when you figure that out, things start aligning and that’s what’s cool about it. That’s how you know you’re in the flow. It’s been a great journey. The journey is not over by any means. It’s the journey of learning. How do I then incorporate that into my life and then help others along the way?
There could be a lot of people who are in a job that they don’t love. The thought of being more productive is new to them in the context of they’re doing something that they don’t enjoy. Who wants to be more productive in an area that they don’t enjoy? I want to point out to people that being productive is doing things that you love. It’s unproductive to be stuck in a job and wasting time and wasting your years away. Do you feel you wasted years away because you weren’t doing what you were meant to do or what you love to do?
Finishing things and completing something gives this sense of accomplishment. Click To Tweet One thing I’ve I have worked hard on for this last four years is to change my mindset. For me, I don’t look at it as wasted. Looking back at so many things I learned along the way, I met so many different personalities. I work with lawyers for twenty years. People talk about lawyers and how lawyers have a bad rep in my opinion. I learned how to work with all these different personalities, which is helping me now. I can take all those things that I learned from all those 49 jobs and I can apply it to what I’m doing now.
I can relate to people who are frustrated with their job. I can relate to people who are frustrated, driving in traffic every single day, feeling underappreciated or not appreciated at all. I can totally relate to that because I’ve experienced that. That’s one of the blessings I have is that I can take all of those experiences and apply them to what I do. I can sympathize and empathize with those who are going through that, then I can share with them how they can make that leap and live the life they truly want to live. We don’t know when our last breath is going to be. For me, spending my time doing things that I don’t want to do, that’s not something I want to do anymore. I’ve made a conscious choice to make sure that if I’m not happy doing something that I shifted, I either shift in my mind or remove myself from the situation and put myself into something that makes me happy.
I’m all about mindset as well. You’re right, every experience is a learning experience. It’s something that we can grow from and it makes us who we are. That being said, now you’re making a choice to be more purposeful and you’re going to make it fun, whether it’s something that maybe is a means to an end that isn’t ultimately your favorite thing to do, but you want to do it because it brings you to another goal or else you don’t do it.
It’s funny you mentioned the word fun because for the last few years, I’ve tried so many different things. I was putting on an event called Nonprofit Speaker Series where I would bring nonprofit experts in to talk to nonprofits to help them grow. I was standing there and I was getting ready to introduce the next speaker. I said, “I realized this morning that I want to spend the rest of my life having as much fun as possible and hanging out with positive and uplifting people who want to make a positive change on this planet.” When it came out of my mouth, I was like, “That sounds so superficial.” In my mind it did because I was making this declaration, “I’m going to have fun.” Then afterwards, many people came up to me and said, “I love that that’s what your life’s mission is.” I say it proudly. I love having fun. Why wouldn’t I want that to be something that I strive for on a daily basis?
It wears off and then other people want to have fun. We could live our life with fun or without fun, why not live it with everything more fun? Coming back to the theme of the show, take back time. Imagine how much time you’re taking back when you’re having fun in what you’re doing. Even if you’re washing dishes or cutting the lawn, you can make everything a game and make it fun in some way. I’m going to pay more attention and be more purposeful with that, especially starting today. I have it in my values and everything, but it’s something you have to remind yourself up because we can get distracted in different ways. We have to continually bring yourselves back to remind ourselves of what’s important.
My husband and I bought a motorhome. It was my first night sleeping in the motorhome and I woke up to take my shower. It’s funny because when we were looking at the shower from the outside without being inside of it, it looks awesome. I got in there and I was like, “It’s very short.” Then I got out of the shower, “Where did I put the towels?” I had a hand towel to dry myself off with. I bring that up because my old me would’ve been complaining, but the new me is like, “At least I have a hand towel. I’m so thankful.” I always try to see the positive in things. I have a shower, a lot of people don’t have that. I’m grateful for my life and the things that I have. I’m trying to look at any situation that could potentially take me down the negative rabbit hole, instead choose to take that other route and turn it into something positive.
We met at CEO Space, which is an event where people, entrepreneurs go to further develop their skills and their networks. We were talking about a concept called time blocking. I wanted to talk to people on the show who use different tools and different strategies in here. How are they using it? How is it benefiting them? I can talk about it, but that’s only one perspective. I want to bring in multiple perspectives. Tell us a little bit about why time blocking is important to you and how you use it?
It was hard for me to discover something that worked for me. I’ve tried so many different things. I tried the Passion Planner. I’ve tried this planner and that planner. I’ve tried online tools, I’ve tried so many different tools. They just weren’t fitting for me. That’s one thing that’s important because somebody will say to you, “This works, you’ve got to do it.” If it’s not working for you, it doesn’t work. When Penny introduced the concept of time blocking, I immediately thought this isn’t going to work because nothing else had worked, but she took us through this exercise that helped me to see that I thought I had 36 hours in a day. What did I think that I’m doing all this stuff? It was cool to break that down. I’m using my Outlook Calendar. I block everything out that I do. If you look at my calendar, you will pretty much see 24 hours blocked out because I block out my sleep time. I block out my time. If I’m going to go to the movies with my husband, I block out my drive time. I always count traffic into that. I’m always giving myself buffers in case I’m wrong.
How many people are late and stressed out because they don’t account for some of those times, the driving, the transition or give yourself time to go to the bathroom?
I wasn’t blocking the time of eating. Eating takes time, preparing your food takes time. Everything that we do takes time. Prior to this interview, for example, I blocked out a half-hour prior and I call it prep, then after the interview, I block out a half-hour called post. Every time I do something, I have a prep and post for myself to have that buffer just in case I need it. What the time blocking has done for me is, first of all, it has relieved a lot of stress that I had related to time and not only that, I’m much more productive. I’m doing the things that are on my calendar because I blocked out the time. It’s been the best tool. I have that and then Calendly, that’s for my calendaring. Those tools have saved me hours and hours each week and they both have helped me to become much more productive.
I encountered a lot of people like this too who say, “That’s too structured. I like to be free-spirited and my stuff will just get done.” What would you say to that person because maybe that’s the way you were before you started this?
I’m totally a free spirit. Anybody who has 49 jobs is not concerned with a lot of stuff. We’ve moved a lot of places too. I’m definitely a free spirit. We’re living in a motorhome so that we can get up and move anytime we want. That’s who I am, but what this did was to give me more freedom. It seems like, “It’s so militant.” It’s not. What it does is it helps you to see how much time it takes you to do things so that you can enjoy more time having that freedom time. If you want to have more freedom, walk out freedom time. It’s so simple because then you’re like, “I’ve got the stuff done that I need to get done. I have all this free time.” It gives you more freedom by being somewhat structured.
You have to have a group of people who are there to cheer you on and want you to succeed. Click To Tweet Planning and this type of time blocking will give you more freedom and more flexibility than if you didn’t do it. That seems weird, but you’re right. Part of that is the reduction of stress because we don’t have to keep it on our head and figure it out. That’s energy that’s trapped because you’re not giving your full resources to the moment because you still have that whole list of other things that you have to do, and you’re not sure you’re going to do it. That’s such an important point. This will give you back more flexibility and more freedom if you just take those things that are most important for you and structure them.
First of all, I was surprised that I kept doing it. It’s been three years.
Why did you keep doing it?
Because it was working. Here’s the thing, it works no matter what. Do I work it? It was working and I was working at and that’s what is so awesome about it. Everybody’s like, “You’ve got to do the Passion Planner, that’s the one.” There’s one called the Evil Planner that is based on your personality type and somebody who is using the planner was like, “This one’s perfect for you because you’re an Alchemist. This was made for Alchemists.” I did it literally for a week and a half and I went back to my time blocking because time blocking works for me.
You’ve created a program called Finishit Fast. Where did this come from? Tell us a little bit about that because that seems like a great Take Back Time type of a program.
They say necessity is the mother of invention. I had my own necessity and that was that I had become a seminar junkie. I attended so many seminars, I watched so many webinars. When I first started entrepreneurship, I didn’t even know what the word entrepreneur was. I went on this journey trying to discover, “What does all this mean? How do I make a business? How do I run a business? How do I make money?” All these different things, I attended seminars, webinars and teleseminars. What happens when you attend those? You come back with a big booklet of stuff that goes with it and it sits on the shelf because you’ve got to go attend the next seminar and you don’t have time to do this stuff. I found myself having a shelf full of all this amazing material. About two years into my entrepreneur journey, I was like, “I have all this stuff and I’m not doing any of it.”
I called up a couple of friends and I said, “I want to start a mastermind, but I want to run it differently than any other mastermind out there. What I want to do is I want us to meet in person and at the very beginning of the session, I want us to all tell each other what we’re going to work on. Then for the next three hours, we work on it and get it done.” Imagine that, getting it done. At that time, the program was called GSD, which stood for Get Shit Done. I have since changed the name because I wanted to trademark Get Shit Done but it wasn’t trademark-able. I changed the name of the program to Finishit Fast because this program, if you have something that you’re putting off and you want to do it, the way it’s structured is that you are being held accountable right then and there. That’s why it works.
You’re giving the space and time. There are no excuses. You’re sitting there with a group of people and you’ve probably got a report on what you did at the end of the session.
We’re on a Zoom call and everybody reports in. They tell what they’re going to do. It’s a three-hour block. The last fifteen minutes of that three-hour block everybody checks back in and says, “I got it done or I didn’t.” What’s cool about this is it helps me to be able to tell the percentages of what people are actually accomplishing. About 80% to 85% of the time they finish what they say they’re going to do. I belonged to a lot of mastermind programs, I belonged to accountability programs and none of them are structured in a way that worked for me because what would happen is that at the end of a mastermind call, I’ve got all these brilliant ideas and then my life happened. I’d get to the end of the week, it’s time to check back in with everybody next week, “Did you get that stuff done?” “No.” It happens so often to so many people.
Almost every single person in the mastermind groups I belong to or the accountability programs I belong to were that same way. I said, “How can I change this and make it so that people are successful?” I want people in my program to be successful. I said, “What if I sit there with them? I’ve got to work anyway. What if I sit there with them for three hours and watch them work?” Sometimes we jump off the call and jump back on. Sometimes we’re there the whole time. At the end of the three hours, the accomplishments that people finish, it’s amazing and astounding. One woman finished a book that had sat on her shelf for twenty years.
One that she’s writing or one that she’s reading?
She wrote it twenty years ago. She said, “I have one last chapter. I’m going to finish that chapter.” In three hours, she finished that chapter. She felt like the huge weight was lifted after twenty years.
Life is short. We don't know when our last breath is. Click To Tweet The value of that program is that it’s so important to hold ourselves accountable. It’s easy not to do the things that we want to do that are best for us. It could be some form of self-sabotage. Maybe she was afraid of what people would think and that’s why she didn’t want to finish the book. It puts your feet to the fire right there and then. If you know someone’s watching, we show up differently and when they’re accountable. I worked with a trainer for that very reason because I wouldn’t show up to the gym. I’d come up with an excuse because something else will become more important.
It’s important to me, but for some reason, I wouldn’t do it. Those kinds of programs, that is fantastic because it’s the same concept, but for work or for those passion projects is a trainer who holds you accountable and stands there while you do it. Isn’t that what a trainer does? I work out and he stands there and I paid for that. I’ll do it every time because it gets me results. This is a brilliant model that you’re bringing. Very different from another form of mastermind coaching that will coach call and then you’ll go away and do it or not do it.
It’s funny you mentioned the personal trainer thing because there was one of the women in the group said, “I’m so glad I’m doing this because my husband came in and interrupted me.” I said, “I can’t, Lynda’s watching me.” It works.
When something works, then embrace it and work it as you said. How do people get a hold of you about getting involved in this program with you? Who’s a good fit for it?
A good fit for it is I’m working with mostly with women. Women entrepreneurs who are putting things off and they’re beating themselves up over it. A lot of times, that’s what happens is it’s sitting on the shelf. Every time we look at it, we say, “I’m going to do that.” Even if we’re not consciously saying that our subconscious is saying that. The Finishit Fast Program, you can find that at FinishitFast.com. Finishing things, just completing something gives you this sense of accomplishment. Also, you have to have the group of people who were there cheering you on wanting you to succeed. That’s so important because many people that I know don’t have that positive reinforcement in their lives.
Just having this group that wants them to succeed and is behind them and pulling them through and stuff, it’s so important and so helpful. It has helped me. Even me, being the leader of the group, I still have the group that is helping me make it through the things that I need to work on. Just remember, life is short. We don’t know when our last breath is. This was so important for me because towards my mom’s last days of her life, she expressed how many regrets she had for things she hadn’t done. That’s why for me if I don’t want to do something, I’m not going to do it for very long because life is short. I don’t want to get to the end and say, “I have all these regrets, things I didn’t do.” Instead I can say, “I’m so glad I live the life I wanted to live.” The life that I’m living, people might look at it and say, “That’s not fun,” but for me, it is. That’s what matters. I’m living my life the way I want to live it. Hopefully, I’m making a positive impact on other people’s lives because that’s important to me.
We each get to choose what’s right for us and appreciate that it’s going to be different for everyone. For tools and strategies, there isn’t one size fits all. You have to find what works for you. Definitely check out Linda’s Finishit Fast Program, especially if you have something that’s on the shelf. If you’ve got any shelf development, let’s get that off the shelf and get that finished.
- Lynda West
- Living Live TV
- The Year of Fears
- Finishit Fast Program
About Lynda West
In 2015 she embarked on a journey of facing at least one fear every day, hence The Year of Fears. During her journey she met people ranging from Frank Shankwitz (the creator and a founder of the Make-a-Wish Foundation); Ron Klein (the inventor of the credit card magnetic strip and MLS); Brian Smith (the founder of UGG Boots); Gene Landrum (the creator of everyone’s favorite mouse, Chuck E. Cheese); and many others. In addition, she has interviewed stars on the red carpet at the Academy Awards After Party, The City Gala.