The best time management systems, as I’ve said before, are the ones that take the least time to manage. But what all of them have in common, at least to the extent that they help, can be summed up in just three words:
In Alice in Wonderland, young Alice has the following exchange with the Cheshire Cat:
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where -” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
Whether you are using a goal-setting system, ABCD priorities, the 80/20 rule, or the Four Quadrants, the goal of most systems is simply to get you clear on what matters most in your world. And the clearer you are about where you want to go, the easier it will be to get there.
Have you ever wondered why you never get around to work on your novel or make progress on your “Wow!” goals but you pretty much always find time to brush your teeth and take out the trash?
As best I can tell, it’s because we have a structure in place for teeth brushing and trash dumping that we’re not continually experimenting with or trying to make better.
When it comes to getting stuff done, all helpful structures roughly break down into one of two categories – external reminders and personal routines.
An external reminder might be an appointment in your diary, an alarm set to go off when it’s time to begin or end a task, or even getting an accountability buddy. (Check out focusmates.com
for a surprisingly simple and helpful way to do this.)
A personal routine is simply a habit that you get yourself into over time that becomes sufficiently ingrained that you don’t have to think about it – it just doesn’t feel right to finish your day without having done it.
No matter how clear your priorities and how helpful your structures, how much of your getting stuff done list gets done is down to doing it, regardless of what circumstances the world happens to throw at you on any given day. While most people find it easier to boldly say ‘yes’ to their priorities and ‘no’ to the apparent demands of their boss, spouse, children when they have a socially acceptable deadline (like hard to get concert tickets or a plane to catch), you can say yes and no just as easily for no apparent or apparently justifiable reason.
Here’s a simple rule of thumb:
The number of reasons you have for doing (or not doing) something is inversely proportional to how much you actually just want to get it done.
Have fun, learn heaps, and enjoy!
With all my love,