You can’t manage time because time can’t be managed. Earl Nightingale, said to be the father of the self-development industry, expressed this sentiment to world renown speaker Bob Proctor in his early years. He went on to explain how only activities could be truly managed. You simply write down what it is you need to do and then you do them. Easy.
“Easier said than done” they say. “If it were that easy than why doesn’t every body do it” they say. “Nothing is as simple as it seems” they say. “If it sounds to good to be true, then it probably is” the say. THEY seem to say a lot of things and that is why THEY don’t get anything done.
That’s the only thing holding you, me or THEY back. Too much talking, complaining, thinking, contemplating, doubting, comparing and giving of excuses. We need more doers. We need more action takers. We need more people engaged in activities that are predicated on progress, growth and more success. The concept is simple, the dream is big, and the activities need to be immediate.
To make sure that you don’t fall victim to “paralysis of analysis” here are the best steps that I can think of, have gathered, and have implemented in my own life that I know has been a major key in the execution of daily activities.
- Sketch out your dreams
- Write down your yearly/quarterly/monthly/weekly goals
- Construct your to-do list for the day ahead
- Know your time frame to get certain tasks done
- Have a deadline for time sensitive activities
- Commit yourself to completing certain tasks that are a priority
- Have a daily ritual/routine
- Always know what the next task is before the completion of the current one
- Plan before you do, do before you think, think before you move on and plan once again
I didn’t put numbers to this list because I believe the order in which you figure things out in your life will vary from person to person. You might not be ready to outline your dreams at this moment. It would be helpful, but it is not absolutely necessary. Sometimes you just need to start with small attainable goals. These small victories can easily pick up momentum, ultimately inspiring you to see a bigger picture for yourself. Then again, for some life is a series of small adventures and they are ok with playing the small game. Even this is a big dream, to successfully play the small roles winning many small and frequent victories.
Sketch Your Dreams
Just to add some clarity, if you’ve ever had a dream before, you would know that it’s like having a little movie playing inside your head. It’s a moving picture in essence. In the same respect, when you have a vision for success what you typically see is a picture displayed in your head. It may be moving, but usually what you are seeing is the result of your victory, so it probably will be a stand still photo of you holding the trophy or something like that to signify this ideal. Seeing as how you’re not taking a picture with your eyes when you have these visions, what we typically say is that you are creating them. In a sense, you are painting or drawing a dream picture in your head. It manifests as you explore your thoughts and deepest desires. This is why I say to sketch out your dreams because most likely you won’t know right off the back what your dream life looks like. You might have a big goal in mind like becoming a millionaire, but you need to know what you’re going to do with those millions once you get it. Draw it out.
Write Down Your Goals
We all know this one. Goal setting. It’s easier to do when you have a big dream to tie it to. By sketching out your dreams and placing a deadline on it, you can more effectively set goals for the year, quarter, month, week and even day. These goals are not to make you feel bad or put pressure on you when you’re lagging behind, instead they are there to remind you where you need to be if you want to stay on course. Otherwise you could easily stray away from the necessary activities that you wish to master in order to materialize specific results.
Most of us have a mental to-do list. We know we have to go to work or class today. We know we need to do laundry. We know we have to brush our teeth. We know when there’s a doctor’s appointment. There are certain things we know and will most definitely do each day. It’s the “extra” stuff that we need to write down and remind ourselves on. The wanna-be author needs to know how many words to write today. The ambitious football player needs to know how many sprints to do on his own today. The B average student needs to remind herself of the extra credit she needs to complete, so she can get that A that could help her get into the college of her choice. That part-time entrepreneur needs to remember to make a certain amount of phone calls today. These are the extra things that are not life threatening, but could be life accelerating if executed.
Knowing your activities is one thing, getting them done is another. Many people start but never finish. Many people start, but start too late. Procrastination can be a pain, even for the most talented of individuals. When you set a time frame or a scheduled block for when you are to indulge and complete certain activities throughout the day, you drastically up your chances for success. If a company did presentations on the fly everyday there would be a lot of confusion and unprepared employees in that office.
Time frames are blocks or chunks of time set aside throughout the day for specific activities. Deadlines are set dates for when certain projects are due. This is where the entrepreneur, weight loss challenger, self-development junkie, or artistically creative person tends to trip up. They do the work, they put in the hours, but they don’t set a fixed deadline for when they need to achieve, finish, or evolve. Therefore, they feel a false sense of accomplishment everyday because they know that they are putting forth efforts on the regular, but in the end they never actually reach the desired outcome. If the IRS said you could turn in your taxes whenever you got the chance, how many tax files would be completed next year? Probably not a one. This is why deadlines are important, it puts more pressure on how you conduct your activities within the set time frames.
Everyday you have a set of tasks that you have to do. This is a fact for most people. Then you have a set of tasks that you would like to do. And then there are the tasks that you need to do in order to progress. These are the priority tasks. The “have to” tasks will get done because you have to. The “would like to” tasks may or may not get done, but that’s ok. They are more like bonuses. It is the “need to” missions that will build upon your current life and help you create a better one. These are the tasks that you need to make a “must do.” These are your priorities out side of your actual “have to” activities, like making your kids dinner or studying for your classes. Yes you have to go to work everyday to make money so you can have a place to live, but you’re not at work 24/7. No matter how many hours you are forced to put in for these “have to” scenarios, you are obligated to complete those “need to” activities because they are a “must” if you want to grow to the next level.
This is going to drastically vary for everyone. It may take you some time, even a few months. If you stick to it, I’m sure it will even evolve over the course of your life depending on your most immediate needs. Daily rituals are key to success, goal achievement, and dream building. Going to class Monday through Friday is in fact a routine, but it is not a success routine. How is that? Because you go to school for the intent of securing a job. You get a job to make money. You make money so that you may live the rest of your life with the necessary funds at your disposal. So, what is preparing you for the rest of your life that has nothing to do with school, your job, or your money? This is why you need a personal routine/ritual, to prepare for the rest of your life.
For some, these rituals can happen in the morning, for others at night, and even still others may have a set routine constructed throughout their day. You may even be one of those folks who do all three. Either way, the key is to find a routine that works best for you. This is for the purpose of preparing you for the immediate future, so that you may successfully take it on and ultimately grow into a new echelon. Your routine may consist of meditation, reading, drinking tea, having quiet time, waking up at a certain time, winding down at a certain time, reciting affirmations, fixing your bed everyday, and the list goes on. I don’t know what that set or semi-set routine is going to be for you, but having one will set you on a path for greatness.
Know the Next Task
It’s easy to get side tracked and waste a day on things you never intended to spend time on when you are unaware of the next task you should be performing. Doesn’t mean that the next section on the to-do list can’t be “watch movie with bae.” But if you’re working on your blog, get to the end and realize that you have 10 more things you need to do today and are not sure what to start on next you may become so overwhelmed that you end up spending the next 8 hours watching Law and Order hoping that a stroke of inspiration will hit you after every episode. This is why it is necessary to know what is next on the menu, that way even if you do get knocked off course, you will have an itch in the back of your mind telling you to get back to the task at hand.
Before you can begin busting down barriers and dominating the activity management spectrum, you need to have a plan of action. In other words, you need to plan out your activities for the day. This is when all of your so-called “thinking” happens. Now, once you have concluded that the plan you have constructed is the plan you wish to carry out, do it without hesitation. There is no need to contemplate, second guess or doubt. Yes, there is a possibility that you may make a mistake, have chosen the wrong task, or maybe even be wasting your time, but you won’t really know until you do it. Do it until the job gets done. Once it’s done, now you can think about what you’ve done. I guarantee that you will feel good about completing your activities. There is a possibility that you may be disappointed with how some of them turned out, but that’s ok, this is your education. You learn best through experience. Trial and error they call it. Once you’ve finished thinking through all the action you just took, you can now move on to the next day and begin to plan out your activity schedule once again.
Like I said, the order in which you attack this monster is up to you, just start somewhere. Wherever you feel is relevant and doable for you. You may need to read a few more books, listen to a couple of more podcasts, or go to another seminar before you can figure this thing out for yourself. In that case, that is what is on your to-do list. Now get-err-done.
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Mel Jones the BEAST