How To Get The Most Out Of Your Time

And The Secret To Transforming It

Our knowledge economy gives us the illusion exists that there just isn’t enough time. False.

The reality is that there is just as much time in our current, crazy-busy age as there has been in any other.  I know it doesn’t seem like it. In fact, I’ve complained far too often that there just isn’t enough time to get everything done. And I’m not alone. “I don’t have enough time” seems to be the mantra of our time.

Time is arguably is our most important resource, Time is non-renewable. Once a second is gone, that’s it….forever. We like to embrace the myth that we can manage time. We can’t, so forget about it: no one ever slowed a minute down….it’s still 60 seconds.

So how can we get the most out of time and why do some seem to get more out of it than others?

If there is one thing Einstein’s theory of relatively taught us, it’s that there is more to time than meets the eye. There was a lot we didn’t know about time then and that we still don’t know. One thing we do know about time is that our perspective can transform how we experience it.

2 Ways To View Time

The ancient Greeks looked at time through two lens: “Karios” and “Chronos”.

  • “Chronos” is a quantitative view. It is simply Father Time’s ticking of the clock and unrelenting wheel of 60/24/7/365. Examples of Chronos is when time seems to stand still, drag on OR when when you feel hurried and harried trying to beat the clock.
  • “Karios” is a qualitative view. While hard to define, it’s theologically related and refers to a favorable or advantageous moment. Being in “flow” is synonymous in many ways with karios and good way to think about it. Examples would be those moments when, because you were fully engaged and present, time seemed suspended or non-existent in a very pleasant way.

While we need both perspectives, Chronos is so predominate that our view of things has become tunnel-like and monchrome. We only seem to look back to the past or forward to the future. Life gets gray pretty quickly when you only focus on what you can’t change, re-experience or have yet to experience.

Transform Your View

The key difference between these two lenses is that Karios can only be experienced in the present, and that’s the secret to transforming it. When we focus on being fully in the moment, we can savor what we are doing, experiencing and are becoming in the process. And it doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy good memories bring or the anticipation of what’s ahead, its just that you do it in the moment and recognize these for what they give you in the moment…..a subtle distinction I know, but a very real one.

How You Choose to Is Up To You

So how do you practice being present or “in the moment”?

  1. Recognize when you’re out of it and living in the past or future- This can show up in number of ways. Regrets and “shoulda/woulda/couldas” are signals you’re in the past while the “want to/have to/need to” and “can’t wait to” are signals you’re in living in the future.
  2. Get in touch with yourself- Close your eyes, take a breath and at the same time a physiologic and emotional pulse-check. If you can’t name your current state then you’re likely less self-aware than you could be (It takes practice).
  3. Focus on what you can control- Your energy and priorities will give you the most leverage. Remind yourself you can’t control a single second of the clock. (it takes discipline and can become a habit).
  4. Focus on the task at hand- Ask yourself what is the most important thing you need to be doing right now, this moment.  You first may need to get the the bazillion and one other things out of your head and on to paper (it will take some planning and ongoing writing).

What we get from our time depends on our perspective. And thinking about time differently can transform how you experience it.

How is your perspective of time working for you? If you want more fulfillment and less frustration it may be a clue.

Take a minute and leave a comment, I’d love to know how it’s going for you.

The Secret Ingredient For Getting Stuff Done

How To Get Your GSD Degree!

Why is it so hard to get stuff done sometimes, even easy stuff?  There are a lot of reasons.

Some are good reasons and some are excuses disguised as good reasons. Sometimes, it’s because we are “Stuck”. Perhaps the most common reason is because it’s just as easy not to do something as it is to do it.

What most have an even harder time with is knowing how to change and get things done when they are not….even when they have a powerful “Why”.

Whether big tasks or small, there is an inertia we all have to overcome. If there seems to be an underlying principle working to keep us where we are at it’s because there is. And a secret to overcoming it is tapping the power of  accountability.

By  putting the following 3 accountability principles into action, you’ll be on the fast track to earning a GSD (getting stuff done) degree and getting more stuff done than you ever thought was possible:

The What

  • Small stuff–  Success is merely a few key disciplines, repeated every day. And failure is only a few errors in judgement, repeated everyday. Therefore, you have to hold yourself accountable for the mundane, monotonous and incremental actions that matter big-time over the long-haul.
  • Big Stuff- This “what” is obvious. The problem is that instead of “eating it small slices”, we try to choke the whole loaf down at once.

The How

Accountability can be incorporated several ways:

  • Say it
    • One-to-One- Share your commitment with another person. It’s best if that someone is a person you respect, who cares about you, and won’t let you off the hook.
    • Group or Team- When you make a commitment to a group, you leverage peer pressure in a positive way.  You may also get the benefit of hearing other creative approaches you  haven’t thought about.
  • Write it
    • Writing is a tangible reminder and activates our brain in a powerful way not done by thinking or talking alone. These words by  Michael Hyatt summarize it well:  “Thoughts disentangle themselves passing over the lips and through pencil tips”.
    • A list in the form of action items or daily behaviors that can be “checked off” can be powerful.
  • Incorporate structure
    • Putting hard stops in place can give you a sense of urgency. Examples would setting a task timer of some sort or telling someone to leave without you if your not there by a certain time (Ouch!).

The Why of accountability

There are many. Below are the ones I think factor in most:

  • We’re forced to clearly define what it is we are committing to, especially when we write it down.
  • We’re more aware of what we are committing to, which allows us to better weigh the risks, consequences and rewards.
  • It’s a form of “activation intent”. When we put accountability in place, we’ve actually taken a proactive step in moving toward what we are after.
  • Our commitment is kept front and center because we now have someone or something external to our own rationalizing brain to answer to.
  • It leverages positive peer pressure. No one wants to look bad or let someone down.

Whether it’s a BHAG goal or the small actions you want to transform into habits, sometimes your powerful “Why” isn’t going to be enough for you to get it done. Your going to have to leverage the other side of that “Why” coin: accountability. It’s just as important and sometimes more so.

Think of one thing you’ve wanted to get done and repeatedly haven’t. Now, what’s one way you could incorporate accountability into your efforts?

Give it a go, I have no doubt you’ll get a lot more done than you did without it. And if you do, please leave a comment and let me know how it goes (yes, feel free to write it down here and hold yourself accountable!).

How to Be An MVP at Getting Big Things Done

Why Doing The Minimum Gets You The Maximum

Plans are necessary, good and can be exciting. In fact, being an Enneagram 7 I love to plan and think of all the possibilities. So much so I can get totally derailed by the planning process…..and be faked out into thinking I’m making tangible progress!

What I really like to do is execute. I want to get stuff done, see the final product and reach the goal. After all, nothing breeds success like success. And nothing can sabotage it like trying to “go big” when your trying to achieve big things.

The Secret To Achieving Big Things

So what’s the secret to achieving big things? Starting small.

The most effective form of internal motivation is making progress….any type of progress.  Behavioral research and at least the last 50 yrs of experience in the business world has clearly demonstrated that to be the case.

The more I thought about it after reading through Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism for the third time, I realized the simple concept of incremental progress lies at the heart of most popular and highly effective productivity approaches. Here are a few:

It also underlies the foundation of the Solution Focused Coaching model, which is “small steps successively approximated lead to big change.”

How To Go Small To Go Big

So what’s the secret to “going small to get to big”? Using the MVP approach to get MVP results.

Minimal Viable Preparation (MVP): the key concept is to start early and small. Take a goal or project and ask yourself “What one small thing could I do right now to support it?” Here are some examples:

  • Writing a book: On day 1, just make the file folders that will contain each chapter’s content. Done
  • Big presentation coming up: Open and name the presentation file (or save a copy of the template file you use with the name of the presentation). Enter the title and jot down a few quick points. Done
  • Key stake holder meeting: once scheduled,  take 10 seconds to write down the main points you want to cover.  Done
  • Major project: Write down the first three action items you need to accomplish, then block time on your calendar to do the first one. Done

Minimal Viable Progress (MVP2):  It’s been said that “Done is better than Perfect”. How true, because perfect never really gets done! Instead of perfect or even grand, focus on the next small step by asking yourself this question: “What is the smallest thing I can achieve that will actually move me a bit closer to where I want to be with this?”

In addition to actually getting stuff done vs adding to the pile, we reap more enjoyment and satisfaction when we take small steps to make big change.

I have to admit I was tempted to bag writing a blog post this week, which is packed and includes travel. I took the MVP approach instead. At the end of Monday I just created a file, named it, and jotted a topic down. That’s it, done. A to-do item on my list for the next day was “open file”. The rest is what you’re reading here.

What’s one thing you’ve been putting off that taking an MVP approach would help you get started with?

Please leave a comment. I’d love to hear about your results.

How To Keep From Coming Unglued

2 Ways You Lose Your Emotional Grip

Just about everyone has at least one moment they would like to take back; a quick act or word spoken. Whether it’s a few of these episodes or many, like paper thrown to the wind, they can’t be recalled. What you can do is keep it from happening again (and in some cases, again and again).

The trouble is that while most people know they want to react better when they get triggered, they don’t know how.

That’s where having practical framework for gaining insight and understanding of your default reaction mode can be invaluable.  Unfortunately, most of us have little if any awareness of our default reaction mode when our hot buttons are pushed.

The challenge is being able to label how you react so you can then get a handle on it.

That’s why Lysa Terkuest’s podcast (part 1 and part 2) discussing her book “Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions” resonated with me. By breaking down the 15 competencies of SEI into 2 basic categories that everyone can understand, her model can help you quickly to get a handle on where you’re at. And once you know where your at, you can decide what you want to be different and the how to go about the change.

It starts by recognizing that internal conflict occurs when we feel exposed or opposed. One of our hot-buttons is pushed and we get triggered. Easy enough.

Where it gets tough is recognizing our own default reaction patterns and clearly labeling them. The good news is that Lysa’s model provides a tool doing just that; two simple categories, each with two flavors.  The other news here is that doing so requires some reflection and often times honest and painful admissions.  After all, who wants to admit they’re basically a “Stuffer” or “Exploder”?

Which One Are You?

A “Stuffer” is someone who keeps everything to themselves and does all they can to avoid conflict; just pushes it in and avoids. He or she then:

  • Builds barriers- keeps it from happening again by staying away or keeping the other person away. Passive aggressiveness comes to mind.
  • Collects Rocks- “retaliation rocks”, specifically.  Behind the sweet smile he or she is quietly finding and storing away everything they possibly can to inflict maximum damage at a later and more opportune time.

An “Exploder” makes no pretenses and has little if any filter. They just go off in an attempt to make “it” go away. She or he then:

  • Blames- spews blame at others like bile and takes no ownership of what happened or how they are reacting.
  • Shames- similar to the first because it involves blame; only this time it’s directed inward shortly after the eruption and results in shame.  If you could hear the self-talk there would be a lot of “shoulding” and “ought-to-have” being said.

The Liberating Truth

Your default reaction patterns are not who you are and you don’t have to be defined by them. The fact that it’s possible to be both given the context is ample proof. For example, you might be a “Stuffer” when it comes to your boss and an “Exploder” with your kids.  Remind yourself it’s something you do and not who you are. More importantly, know you can do something about…if you’re willing.

The good news is that our emotions are indicators, not dictators; emotional smoke signals if you will. Keeping that reality in mind as well as our default reaction patterns can help us react how we want to instead of how we are inclined to. It begins with self-awareness.

How is your natural reaction style affecting the results you’re getting?

Whether your a Stuffer and Exploder, please leave a comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts

Key To Emotional Mastery And Symmetry

3 Ways You Can Build Yours

If your emotional fitness was visible to others as an external physique, would it attract or repel?

Because our physical appearance is usually the first thing others notice about us, we give it a lot of attention.  What we usually don’t realize is that our emotional state is probably the next thing people pick up on about us and they usually do it pretty quickly.  The reality is that emotions are contagious and our neuronal circuitry is wired so that they are easily influenced and  “caught”.

Physical asymmetry

Having grown up competing in sports and being physically active, I identify much easier with the physical than the emotional.  Perhaps you do too.

It’s pretty easy to tell a lifter who is well rounded vs one who just focuses on their favorite body region or workout routine. The guy in the gym with bulging biceps, a massive chest and pencil legs is an easily identifiable example of the latter. No question that an upper body workout is more fun and less difficult than lower body but the end result is a bit grotesque. If you want the full package, you have to work on the full package (leg day, anyone?)

Emotional Mastery and Symmetry

Likewise, maximum emotional fitness requires mastery and symmetry of our ability to experience a full range of feelings and virtues, not just the ones we gravitate toward naturally or like. Besides the lack of the visual, what makes things more difficult in this arena is that the mind doesn’t like to hold the tension brought on by contradictory impulses.

For example:

  • If you value toughness you may undervalue tenderness.
  • If spontaneity is your thing, then self-control may be excused.
  • If you value honesty above all else then it’s easy (and convenient) to forget the compassion.
  • Just because you’re bold doesn’t mean you can do away with caution.
  • If “happy land” is your preferred destination, avoiding any hint of sorrow or pain can land you in the opposite location quick.

The list of opposite emotions and virtues that need be held in tension and symmetry could go on, but I think I the point is clear. The real issue is our self awareness of how we’re balanced in this area and our level of mastery with it.

The Key

To be fully engaged emotionally requires the capacity to hold opposite virtues and emotions simultaneously, or anacolouthia. Anacolouthia is the mutual entailment of virtues and accompanying emotions whereby a virtue isn’t a virtue by itself. After all, honesty without compassion becomes cruelty.

Here are 3 ways to build anacolouthia.

  1. Accept the tension that comes with holding opposites- view them as a tension to be managed not a problem to be “fixed”.
  2. Learn to value all the virtues-  discover what proportions work best and see the synergy; don’t choose sides.
  3. Appreciate your weak areas- qualities you naturally oppose or don’t like have their merits; let go of judgement and find leverage instead.

Often the most important things are simple to understand but hard to do. In this case, it’s complex and contradictory as well. The end goal is to build your capacity move freely and flexibly between your own opposites.

If your emotional “physique” were as visible as your physical one, where would you start working asap?

Please leave a comment, I’d love to hear where and how the symmetry is for you.