How do you manage your time?

More often than not, there’s something on your to-do list that didn’t get done; even though it was THAT important. And, chances are you’re VERY clear on why it DIDN’T get done. Sure there may be a couple of different ways to say it, but bottom line… You didn’t have enough time.

If you’re going to make new things happen, if you’re going to experience more in your life and work, if you’re going to make the difference you’d like to make, you’re going to have to change your mindset. You see, if you look around you’ll notice that everything you’ve got around you is the result of what you’ve focused on up until now, what you’ve accepted in your life as of today.

In thining about this over the past few months, I’ve been asking people I’ve met along the way, “Is there anything you’re doing that you want to change?”

Most of the time, the person I’m talking to takes a deep breath, looks at me in my eyes, looks away and then says something like, “Yeah, but I just don’t have the time.” Many times there’s also a little sag of their sholders as well.

Say it with me slowly, “I. Just. Don’t. Have. The. Time.”

And, You Never Will

You can use this statement to get out of things and explain your reasons why you’re not doing what you know you should be doing. Goals, tasks, projects and intentions all fall by the wayside because of this FACT: there ISN’T enough time. This is a fact that many of the greats in our history have had to grapple with. The way I look at it there is at least one thing all these people had in common:

  • Martin Luther King
  • Lucille Ball
  • Steve Jobs
  • Mother Theresa
  • John F. Kennedy
  • My Grandma, Colleen

That thing they all had in common? They didn’t have enough time! So, what is one to do?

Take 1% of your day today – and every day – to envision the world you want to see. 1% of your day, it’s about 15 minutes. So, in a quarter of an hour you can up level your engagement with – and the likelihood that good things will happen in – your life. When it comes to making more possible, you simply need to look around and find out how you can invest 15 minutes in your future.

What do you do for those 15 minutes? I’ll share a “punch list” of activities that I do…

1. Clarify the next thing. Spend a bit of time thinking about a project I’m working on or an event I’m participating in and I write or talk or think or plan how it will come about through time. I’m a big fan of mind-mapping and brainstorming. But (and I wrote about this in chapter 8 of the book Your Best Just Got Better) I also know the absolute importance of looking around and asking for help from people who are smarter and more experienced that I am.

For the most “bang for the buck,” I believe that 15 more minutes of planning can be worth more than an hour of distracted action-taking. My favorite tool for this kind of directed thinking is:

2. Plan spontaneity. Years ago, when I worked a senior facilitator of the Getting Things Done seminars (founded by David Allen), I developed an expertise in coaching people to organize their work spaces and create very simple lists they could use to manage their projects and actions. It was then that I learned the absolute significance of planning time in the day to be impulsive and “spur-of-the-moment.”

I had a mentor once tell me, “If you’re waiting until you have time to figure out what to do when you have time, you’ll always be behind.” Thank you Jack Smith for telling me what really needs to be done: We gotta think about what we’re thinking about, so we can make more of it happen.

3. Fall in love. Look at your calendar. Review your email inbox. Revisit your to-do list. That white board in your office, look at that too. If you have a journal, look through the older pages. While you’re doing all that, find a problem, an opportunity, a situation, an upcoming event that you can fall in love with. I had another mentor of mine say to me one day, “Jason, fall in love with the problem.” I is some of the best advice I’ve ever taken.

You’re right about that time thing. You don’t have enough of it; and, you never will. At best, you’ll have moments of engagement. Your job – ok, your mission, should you decide to accept it – is to look around your world, question your routines, and create the environment that will support you in getting the right things done.