Last week, Andrew Wilt and I were working side-by-side. During a break in the daily grind, we decided to discuss time management. Time management seems to be one of those things we all have to deal with, and I had recently swapped tips and tricks with my peers. Since both of us have previously written blog posts about time management, we felt like the ideas were a step in the right direct, but they could benefit from some revision. So, Andrew and I had that discussion.
No, not THAT f-bomb, the other one. Fear. Twice in two days I have heard or read something that refers to fear and the description has varied from fear being an effective tool for achieving an outcome, to fear being an oppressive feeling that fuels self-doubt. Indeed, fear is a key driver in many of our actions. I have a fear of heights (or at least of falling from heights), have been fearful of losing my job, and have been afraid to ask someone out on a date. I have used fear (not proud, more an admission) to try and get my way or drive things the way I wanted them to go. The list is pretty endless on both sides and some fears will always be there. However, the fears around my abilities, my value, my competence, and especially about a job are gone. That loss of fear is enabling me to achieve what I didn’t think was possible. Here’s what has changed for me.
Be daring and just do it! Leap off of that cliff or jump that chasm.
Most of us see change as a scary cliff. It uncomfortable and we shy away from it--especially big change. The most traumatic things you can do in your life are change relationships, move households, and change jobs. But at times, you really do need to make adjustments. How do you know?
Writing a weekly blog is a worthwhile process--one that is both challenging and rewarding. Despite our best efforts, Andy Ruth and I don't always get around to it every week. The hardest part is finding time. Through the successes and failures, I have come to realize the key is discovering the gaps of downtime between daily tasks and then learning how to utilize those breaks. For example, look for time between meetings and during breaks for coffee or lunch. You can also mentally prepare in the car (or public transit) and when you are getting ready in the morning (in the shower). About 10-15 minutes a day is all you really need, but remember: don’t limit yourself to 15 minutes if you are on a roll.
Time is funny. We all have 24 hours in a day and 365 days in a year. Yet most of us complain about how little time we have and how there are too few hours in a day. This year is a Leap Year so we all have an extra day. This is also the start of a new year and many make resolutions, so this year I will make a resolution about time, and my extra day. I resolve to remember I have an extra day and use it to reflect on (and correct) the trajectory of my year. In fact, I will officially declare it as Extra Day - a day to limit work, take a breath and reflect on the direction the year is taking. I’ll do it on February 29th since that is where the calendar places our extra day. But, to do that, I’ll need a plan.
Whether you realize it or not, you are in the middle of performing a habit. Somehow, you made your way onto a computer or smartphone and are now browsing the internet. This is to say, we are all performing some activity we do regularly, and these repetitive behaviors are habits. So when we say we are going to make a new habit, what we are really saying is that we are going to replace one habit with a more desirable one. The point of this blog post is to help you become more aware of your habits and offer some pointers as you set your sights on a new goal. Whether you are looking to make a life change or tweak an existing routine, these five steps will help you achieve your workflow goals.
Twice a year, Bill Gates disconnects from reality in order to reconnect with (and redefine) his goals. During each one-week break, Gates travels into the woods of the Pacific Northwest where he dives into papers written by the Microsoft community. He scribbles notes, maps out ideas, and writes summaries for executives. There are no interruptions (besides a caretaker who provides two meals per day and a steady stream of Diet Orange Crush), no employees, friends, or family to accompany Bill; even his wife stays at home. This is a time of deep thought, reflection, and goal creation, and has been responsible for many Microsoft innovations.
One of my writing friends gives all her workshop students toothbrushes. She tells her students, “This is one of the most important writing tools I can give you. Use this twice a day: once in the morning and once at night.” The toothbrush does two things for these creative misfits who spend too much time in their heads thinking about stories:
Throughout history, accomplished women and men have been sharing their daily schedules with the world in hopes that others will be just as successful. Their audience is broad and stretches from the young adults learning how to manage their first full-time job to managers and business owners looking for life hacks to shave an hour off their work day. Over the past few years, authors such as Timothy Ferriss, Chris Guillebeau, and Mason Currey (as well as many bloggers), have compiled lists of rituals and routines into books that have become bestsellers. Some of the advice are good reminders for past routines we have fallen out of, and some of it is just downright odd.