We live in a society that feeds us a lot of lies. The biggest one is about TIME. Oh, if I only had more time, then I could (fill in the blank). The truth is we are all given the same amount of time—24 hours a day. Of course the next big lie that’s easy to believe (and I’ve been guilty) is Well, if I only work HARDER, that will get me where I want to be.
More time doesn’t equal MORE AWESOME.
Thus, today we’re going to look at some of the lies and time-stealers and ways to be masters of time, not slaves to it. We need to be vigilant and proactive so we don’t fall into Hamster Wheel Management. We’re called to be fruitful NOT busy.
We Can’t Find Time, We Can Only SPEND Time
One of the most common phrases in the English language? “If I could only find the time…”
Okay, sorry to break the news but time isn’t hidden in the couch cushions like loose change, Cheerios and that remote control we haven’t seen in a month. We can’t find time. We’re given time. How we spend it’s our choice.
Write a Clear Mission Statement of What We WANT
Feel free to have multiple mission statements: Faith/Spiritual, Family, Health, Finances, Work (Writing). For templates of how to do this, I recommend 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Mission statements are a lot like the log-lines for our novels. No log-line for a novel—ONE sentence that clearly states what our book is ABOUT? Easy to drift off down a bazillion rabbit-trails because every wild idea that pops in our brain seems worth giving a try. In the end, we’re more likely to end up with a mess than a masterpiece.
Same in life.
Without a clear picture of what we want, it’s impossible to spot the time-wasters versus the sound investments.
Make at Least TWO Lists
We’ve talked before about the Pareto Principle, also known as The 80/20 rule. Twenty percent of all our decisions will have 80% of the most return. This is a fairly universal rule. If you have employees, 20% will produce 80% of the output. If you run a volunteer organization, 20% will do 80% of the work.
Conversely, 20% of employees (customers, friends, volunteers, family members) can create 80% of our headaches. Limit time with psychic vampires and focus more on spending time with those who add value. Even being alone is better than leaking 80% of our time on stressful, counterproductive people/activities.
With the 80/20 Rule in mind…
List #1—The Boulders
The boulders are the BIG stuff. These are the actions that will make 80% of positive impact. Being a career author (need a finished novel). Becoming debt-free (need a budget). Possessing a healthy spirit, family, mind, and body (need boundaries and rest).
With a clear action plan, anything that gets in the way of these big goals can be easily spotted, rerouted or removed. No plan? We are reactive, wasteful and spend most of our time treading water.
No item on the BIG LIST can be done in one day, but we can write out steps that get us closer to that BIG goal every day. Remember, small actions over time add up. Those steps to our BIG GOAL are what we tackle FIRST.
Every day, I have a list of 2-6 BIG things that need doing, often stuff I dread. But the day isn’t complete until these items are knocked out (so many pages of research, writing so many words, writing a critical e-mail, creating a spreadsheet, etc).
In the meantime…
List #2—The Pebbles
The BIG LIST are boulders. They will take steady chipping away over time. Between time? Pebbles are easy. Too many people focus all their time on pebbles—which NEVER go away—at the expense of a few whacks on the boulder. Or they focus all on the boulder, then wear themselves out and become overwhelmed and discouraged because they’re buried in ignored pebbles.
Or they ignore/avoid the boulders AND the pebbles with useless activities that will never bear fruit.
Pebbles are small, worthwhile tasks that take less than 20 minutes to complete (most about 5).
Every day, when my main blog is finished, I call my mother and close friends. I believe in healthy relationships. But, while on the phone, I tackle a bucket of pebbles (stuff on my #2 List).
I sort laundry (5 minutes), empty the dishwasher (5 minutes), put a chicken in the crock pot for dinner (15 minutes), tidy the silverware drawer (5 minutes), sweep (5 minutes), or wipe down a counter or two (5 minutes), and have great company while I work.
If I have to pay a bill and they put me on hold? I read research, fill the cat bowl, or jot down ideas for blogs.
5 minutes a day reclaimed ADDS 30 hours a year
10 minutes a day reclaimed ADDS 60 hours a year
15 minutes a day reclaimed ADDS 90 hours a year
30 minutes a day reclaimed ADDS 120 hours a year
60 minutes a day reclaimed ADDS 340 hours a year
It’s easy to waste an hour a day 5 minutes at a time. Take those minutes back, and we can add 31.6 eight-hour workdays to our lives (Via The Art of Getting It DONE). And all this time we wondered where our vacation time went? It’s leaking away unless we are proactive at plugging holes.
I’m not here to make you guys multi-tasking robots. I’m here to help you invest in the future you want.
Time with family, naps, relaxation, downtime, vacations and rest are essential for genuine success (the kind that doesn’t have us living off energy drinks, Xanax and screaming at the kids). If we’re conscious to be fruitful instead of busy, we’ll find we accomplish far more with less effort.
Focus increases confidence, offers a sense of authentic accomplishment and relieves anxiety. Focus will also free up time for more fun stuff (and more writing). Activity can be diffused like white light, or it can be a laser (which is MUCH of what I teach in my new book).
Do you feel eaten alive by your life? Is your To Do List a Frankenstein monster wrecking your life? Do you feel discouraged and overwhelmed? Have you learned to prioritize and set boundaries? What are some tips that have helped you regain control?
I love hearing from you!
Winner of 20 page edit. Troy Lambert. Please send your 5000 word Word Document to kristen at wana intl dot com.
Since it was such a HUGE success and attendees loved it, I am rerunning the Your First Five Pages class SATURDAY EDITION. Use the WANA15 code for 15% off. Yes, editors REALLY can tell everything they need to know about your book in five pages or less. Here’s a peek into what we see and how to fix it. Not only will this information repair your first pages, it can help you understand deeper flaws in the rest of your manuscript.
My new social media book, Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World is NOW AVAILABLE. Only $6.99.
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If you REGISTER NOW, you get PajamaCon and BOTH DAYS OF THE CONFERENCE (and all recordings) for $119 (regularly $149). Sign up today, because this special won’t last and seats are limited. REGISTER HERE.