We only control two things in our lives, which then control everything else that flows in our lives. And that is our thoughts, and our time.
This is of vast importance as most of us are not aware of not only how to control either, but the disadvantage (which can be turned into a benefit!) of having been raised in a manner of encouraging independent thought, perhaps being placed in systems that usually don't have much planned for you (job) and being in circumstances that have not been used to your advantage (being "stuck in a rut").
I constantly asked myself "how can I control my life more?", "How can I control more of my time?', "How come there are people out there that can get so many things done with such apparent ease and I don't?"
Fortunately there is a way, and I call it Predetermined Time Management" or as my old friend Zig Ziglar calls it, "The Day Before Vacation".
Ever notice how much work you get done before you go on vacation? You have incentive, and discipline, because you know there is a reward at the end of the rainbow.
Now you're thinking, "well you just answered why I don't get things done, there is no reward at the end of the rainbow!" That is a very dangerous position to take because there is always a reward "at the end of the rainbow", whether you realize it or not, which is a huge error of omission.
What I'm referring to is the law of sowing and reaping. The fact that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Your labor, or lack thereof, and your positive and/or negative thoughts will bring back to you exactly what you send. You will get your reward, and it will be in perfect timing!
Fortunately, we can choose the rewards we receive, and use this law to our advantage.
"You either run your day or your day runs you" - Jim Rohn
Would you ever gather some car parts and start building a car not knowing what kind of car you were going to build or when it was going to be finished? How about a house? "That's fine Larry, just haul in the bricks and we'll figure it out".
Sounds crazy right? But we do the same thing with our days, and wonder why we are not more productive. We have a tremendous power to take charge of our days, and our existence here on this planet, but few of us exercise this power, therefore forfeiting our right to chart out our destiny.
Planning in advance, keeping a record, and tracking our days and reworking them can help us de-stress our lives, accomplish more, and add to our self-esteem, health and overall well-being.
Look at the alternative, procrastination rears its ugly head and steals control of our minds, our days get away (ever have that "what happened to the day" feeling? Not the good kind, living moment to moment, but the not -so-good kind, being lost in the shuffle) and we lose track of our vision and life goals.
Solution - Run your life!
1) Plan in Advance
This tool is probably the most important - but how is it used? Ask yourself three questions - 1) What am I going to do tomorrow? 2) When am I going to do it? 3) What do I need to do to be fully prepared to do it?
It's amazing how quickly our minds can drift if we're not careful. Don't give yourself permission to drift. Plan then attack. Make a list of all the things you want to do, and then order them. Do the most uncomfortable things first, getting those out of the way will clear your mind to cruise through the rest of your tasks.
Time your tasks. How long is it going to take for you to do it? You don't have all day, and you can always come back to a task the next day to complete it.
What do you need to be fully prepared? Don't overlook any details! Pens? Pencils? Snacks? Change of clothes? Be thorough, this will pay off bigtime.
Once you've made your list and you've checked it twice, know that it'll go smoothly, think of how good it'll feel to be one day closer to a greater control of your time, and the pot of gold "at the end of the rainbow". The knowledge that sowing the seeds of disciplined habits will pay off in reaping the rewards of a more productive and more enjoyable life.
Planning in advance is a good de-stresser. How good does it feel when you have your actual day before vacation planned? It's a relief of stress, and now you're free to enjoy the day and knock off the tasks as they come.
It becomes a fun game, and because you're on a mission (should you choose to accept), you won't waste energy with meandering thoughts of what to do next, it is all planned.
2) Eat the elephant!
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! I don't know what your "elephant" is, but one bite at a time can devour any tough-skinned S.O.B. in no time!
Action. Action. Action. Action... Action... is the key! Do the thing. That will give you more energy to Do the thing! Not thinking about it, waiting for the right time, you made the time! Now do it!
One more thing-Honor yourself. Don't give in to gossip at the water cooler, or Shelley calling wanting to "talk shop" over brunch. PASS. With a capital P. Fun time is scheduled time. And you'll get more out of your fun time, when it's scheduled, and you can give yourself over to it, and not be guilty that you're skipping out on your two o'clock appointment.
3) Tracking and Reworking
Take a few minutes at the end of the day (you scheduled that in right?) to play back the tapes. Who'd you talk to? How did it go? How did you feel?
The tapes should either "applaud you or prod you". Maybe you underestimated some time here, a few minutes there. Be kind to yourself, it's alright. Proceed with tweakage.
It'll also give you a self-esteem boost to look at all you accomplished in one day. Think of what you can do with seven?
Business does not equal productiveness. Being on a mission to tackle the tasks you put in front of you will put you on a path of being a powerful person destined to achieve. You will be too busy being productive to listen to your troubles, you will worry less, leading to less doubt, fear and anxiety leading to better overall health.
Throw a healthy boost of self-esteem in the mix and you will receive a huge boost, because you will soon begin to see yourself not only as a goal-setter but a goal-achiever.
There is a price to pay, however, and that is the pain of discipline. Do not fret though, "discipline weighs ounces, regret weighs tons". Short term pain definitely equals long term pleasure, knowing that new habits formed will follow you for the rest of your life. Quite often they increase, so you can look forward to becoming a full-fledged grand master sensei of your day.
"But I don't like scheduling stuff dude, I like going with the flow". Fair enough, but there's only so far you can go with what you know, and so much you can do. New ideas implemented are the seedlings of growth.
"But scheduling things feels like a straitjacket". Well I say, better than a "crookedjacket". Kidding aside, the uncomfort will pop up from time to time, expect it! Know it, get familiar with it, make friends with it, and put its energy in your tasks.
There are always unexpected opportunities that come up. Use your judgment, trust your instincts. This is where the "wiggle room" theory comes into play. You ever see a kid trying to create space on a bench with his friends, or on a couch between the "grown ups" wiggling around?
Well, channel your inner wiggle, and if you feel it's worth doing, by all means, wiggle. Wiggle like a 5 year old on public transit after eating a bag of sour keys (maybe without the scrunched face).
But choose wisely, young grasshopper, make sure it's a decision that adds more value to your day than you are replacing.
This idea has changed my life drastically. It's truly been a great idea that has revolutionized my life. I'm definitely not perfect at it, but I am getting better.
I usually allot myself some time in the day to eat and get tasks done, maybe watch some SNL sketches, and in the beginning I started thinking to myself "I need to put something in my body that will sustain me for the rest of the day, because I have a lot to do, and I won't be able to eat for X number of hours". Down went the cheezies, up went the veggies.
Now I am more aware of what I am putting into my body, and have been making changes, and have a healthier, more balanced diet. All because of a few minutes the night before.
You never know where one idea can take you. It just might change your life.