It's About Time
by Bill Blake
Time is a paradox – everyone wants more time, but everyone has all the time there is. So really, it boils down to the fact that we have to choose what we will do with the time we have been given. We have to decide on our priorities - those things that are really important, and those things we will give up. It is our choice and we must bear the consequences of our choice.
Guiding us in our choices are 3 principles:
- The first is the “Principle of Responsibility”. We are 100% responsible for our lives. As Clement Stone once said, “You always do what you want to do. This is true of every act. You may say that you had to do something, or that you were forced to, but actually, whatever you do, you do by choice. Only you have the power to choose for yourself.”
- The second is the well known “Pareto Principle”. This says, “For many events, 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes”. In other words 80% of your results will come from just 20% of your efforts. It is then, to our benefit, to concentrate on the 20% of factors that yield the 80% of results.
- And the third is the “Principle of Insanity” credited to Albert Einstein. This is self explanatory “Doing things over and over again and expecting different results.”
But while time is finite, our imagination and our choices are infinite. So our actions – what people observe – come from 3 sources.
The first is “Conscious Choice”. We have the right to choose, although we do not have the right to choose the results of our choosing. This is probably the best choice, because we are in control and we are choosing our actions based on some forethought.
The second is choosing not to decide – we procrastinate. This is the worst choice and leads to crisis management and waste. This choice, or tendency, can be easily overcome by the simple – or not so simple – act of planning. It involves establishing priorities, and planning your work for the day based on those priorities, before the day begins.
The third and most common choice comes simply from habits – habits that are ingrained in the natural pathways of the brain and come basically without thinking. Changing these habits is not easy, but it can be done. It requires a repositioning of neurons and cell structure within our brain. If you wish to change these behaviors, the best way to do it is to identify the old habit that you want to change - be specific and write it down. Secondly, define the new habit and commit it to paper. Then, begin purposefully and enlist the help of a coach or an accountability partner. If you follow this pattern and do not stray, the new habit will be firmly ingrained in about 30 days time.
The big question is - why? Why would you want to do this? Well, some possible reasons include:
- Reducing your wasted time by just five minutes each hour you would increase your productivity by 8.3%
- Meeting deadlines with ease
- A feeling of regaining control and balance in your life
- Better decisions on priority assignments
- Achieving the lifestyle of your choice
Basically it’s a question of balancing your needs with your wants!
Jesse Jackson is quoted as saying, “If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it, I know that I can achieve it”. So it starts with a vision, then a plan, and then action. A plan without a vision is foolish, and action without a plan is plain silly!
So you begin with a “vision” – a clear picture of your fulfilled vision at some specified time in the future. The vision must be specific. The clearer you can see it, the more likely you will achieve it. Then you must analyze your vision. What strengths do you possess that will help you in your quest? What weaknesses or shortcomings do you have that you will have to remedy? What opportunities exist in your world that you can take advantage of? And what threats or obstacles exist that you must be aware of, and overcome or avoid?
Then comes “planning” – the second key in your formula for success, and planning should always come before action. Planning is plotting your path to your vision. It is a means to an end, not an end in itself. It will require the development of new skills, and/or the reinforcement of existing skills. Your success will be determined by your tenacity and your ability to adapt to change. Goals are an important part of the planning process because they are the milestones that keep you accountable, and on the right path toward the realization of your vision. Of course, they must answer the “what”, “when”, “how”, and the “action steps required”.
Good planning obviously requires a work plan, but good planning also requires a time plan – that identifies your estimates of the time needed, and a system for scheduling, including the flexibility to alter those time commitments if necessary. In this process you will undoubtedly have to make choices – and live with the consequences of those choices. Therefore, it is critical that those choices be made in accordance with your identified priorities.
The third key in your formula is “Action”. These will be the activities that will propel you on your way to success. They are the four C’s that determine the effectiveness of your actions. And this is where the hard work starts!
- First of all you must Create a blueprint. A way of proceeding
- Then you must have a system for effective Communication – both written and verbal
- Third you must operate from a Clear workspace. A cluttered workspace leads to a cluttered mind and time loss. For years I fought this idea – but then I was challenged, and the results were obvious
- And fourthly, you must Control your interruptions
These four “C’s” constitute your system for organizing your life. The type of system you use is up to you, just as long as you have a system. Just remember that old adage, “a ship with no destination will find all winds favorable”.
The key to your success is to give it your undivided attention each day. In addition, ask for help – get a Mentor, or a Coach, or an accountability partner. Every elite athlete has one.
And also celebrate your successes
- Use positive self reinforcement – recognize and reward your successes
- Keep up to date with the new technology – the tools for change. We live in a changing world – so you must master the new tools
Plus there are two “magic” ingredients that are critically important to your success! The first is enthusiasm! I do not think that anyone has said it better than Og Mandino:
"Every memorable act in the history of the world is a triumph of enthusiasm. Nothing great was ever achieved without it because it gives any challenge or any occupation, no matter how frightening or difficult, a new meaning. Without enthusiasm you are doomed to a life of mediocrity but with it you can accomplish miracles.”
Take any field of work you wish, observe the relative success of those who are working enthusiastically, with those who are not. It is easy to see why the enthusiasts are more successful.
And the second is Attitude!
Mac Anderson, the Founder of “Simple Truths” and “Successories” also emphasized the importance of attitude! He wrote:
“There is no way to overstate the importance of a positive attitude in your life. However, no one can underestimate the difficulty in maintaining it. It’s not easy, and it is a very personal thing, but it can be done”
Many of you will have seen the movie “Pursuit of Happyness” starring Will Smith. It is the story of Chris Gardner, and the many roadblocks that were in his path to success, but because of his dedication to his vision, he did realize it. Really, the only thing stopping you from achieving all your goals is you! And if you wish to see real positive attitudes in progress, visit any of the Special Olympic events – where individuals with obvious handicaps are fulfilling their life’s vision.
You CAN do it - if you can SEE it, BELIEVE it, and ACT on it!
Now you may be asking, “What‘s next?”
Well, mastery starts with feedback! Ask for it! Feedback really is the “Breakfast of Champions”. Decide on, and implement a system that you are comfortable with. The Time Mastery Profile® provides a detailed framework for personal action planning. Use it!
And remember! It takes time to change your habits!
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