You can achieve your life objectives by following these 6 tips.
The other night a friend asked me this question. “How do I get so much done?” I did not have a good answer. I’m involved with several of my own businesses. I’m active in civic groups. I serve on a local government board. Monday nights I host a mens bible study group at my home. I have an incredible relationship with my wife, Christina, and our two kids, Ryan and Taylor. I’m a coach on my son’s First Lego League robotics team. I guess while doing these things the one thing that I had never really considered was how exactly I manage to cram all this activity in while moving towards my life objectives, having a good balance and not feeling completely overwhelmed. I did not have a good answer to give my friend on Friday night. That got me thinking. What leads some people to get a lot done while others have challenges in this area?
Looking at my experience I can relate 6 areas that can improve the ability to get more done.
1. Time Management T he secret in my case is not being a time management guru. I am not someone to study if you intend to learn about my time management techniques. Its not that I don’t think time management would not help me get more done. Quite the opposite. I think if one studies effective time management techniques, and applies them in their life consistently, they will be far more productive than the average person. I have done the ‘student’ bit, reading up on practically every time management method out there. Unfortunately, for me its the consistently and applying that I seem to have trouble with. What I can attest to is that there is nothing I have read that I have not learned something from in this subject area.
2. Routines This starts to get closer to how one person is more productive than another. When something repeats as a matter of routine it has become hard-coded into us. Once an activity is made routine the likelihood of long-term continuation of that habit is much greater. There are various measures on how long it takes for an activity to become routine. I have read that you need to do something for 4-6 weeks. I have tried with this method to incorporate habits such as exercise and daily quiet time and bible study. It works. Tip … try the Seinfeld unbroken chain method of developing a habit.
3. Know when to say when Sometimes you just have too much on your plate to do your chosen activities well. This is where an honest conversation with yourself comes in handy. Is the time I am spending on this item adding value? Is the time I am spending on this item causing a negative shift in my relationships? Is what I am doing helping me move toward my long-term goals? When you start answering no to these questions it is time to start dropping those items from your activity list. It’s not easy. I know this from experience. I have resigned from committees in the past, probably long after I should have, and definitely to the advantage of the remaining focus activities on my list. These decisions are made after much thought, but they are always the right decisions to make. Hanging on is a disservice to the activity, group, or issue you are struggling to contribute effectively to, just as much as it is a disservice to all the other activities you are working on who are having less share of your time and energy. Life goes on. You are not indispensable. The dropped activity or group will go on without you, and will bring in new talent that is not as over committed. It’s a win-win for all. Try it.
4. Gather information I love the phrase ‘we live in a privileged age’. We really do. Information in significant detail is available on every subject known to humans, and its generally free for the taking. Sure you can buy books, but real learning is also available to you through podcasts, through Wikipedia and Google, and vast number of education sites. When you know why you want to be doing something in your life, there really is no excuse for not finding the how to do that thing. RSS feeds of key topical blogs are the modern equivalent of the daily delivery of the newspaper. See something that interests you in a core activity area that supports your goals? Save it in one of the cloud sites such as Evernote or Pocket. These searchable filing systems keep information close. When the time comes to do something in that activity area you can quickly recall it. The search for information in my estimation is the number one detractor to productivity today so why not use these simple free solutions to keep what crossed your eyes a year ago ready to go immediately as you need it in the future. The idea that resources are wasted and innovation is restricted in seeking information is one that is researched extensively in this academic paper by Dr. Dax Basdeo. Constantly gather information and find an effective system that works for you for storage and instant recall.
5. Study Be a lifelong student. So what if you did not finish high school. Who cares if you did not attend college. Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, and Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, were both college dropouts. What they did not do was drop out with no purpose or intent. They carefully analysed where they were in their search for knowledge in their areas of passionate interest. When that search diverged from reaching their goal, they did the unconventional thing in favour of their long-term objective. And they kept on learning. Today it is simple to reinforce learning in an area or explore a whole new area if interest using free education sites such as Khan Academy and MIT Online to name just two. Use these tools to assist you in picking up the areas that back in high school or college did not seem so important, or just were not even available. This learning will help you become more productive, particularly in areas outside your specialization.
6. Be interested This is the key point of this post. This is what I should have had top-of-mind to reply when I was asked the original question on Friday evening. Be interested in the world around you. Be interested in the issues and causes that will influence the path to your life objective. Be interested in the things that will help others gain clarity and movement towards their own life objective. You will be far more likely to be engaged and present for tasks related to your various activities if they are areas that you are actually interested in. You will work harder in the areas you want to see success in for what that success will mean to you, to others that you work with, and to the community in which you live.
Set several life objectives or goals. Write them down so that they will of actually get done. Ensure that these goals meet key areas of your life such as spirituality, family, community,, civic life, fitness, and learning. Take time every day to be still, to pray, and to contemplate the day and how its activities will align with your long-term life goals. Take time every quarter to take stock of any movement away from those goals and reposition yourself and your commitments to get back on track. Take time every year to consider the high level activities you are doing to achieve your objectives and as they are met revisit your plan to ensure you continue to move towards the unmet goals.
Start today. What is holding you back from achieving your life objectives?
I welcome your comments on this post, and your thoughts on achieving things that give purpose to your life. Please also share this post with others and subscribe to this blog to receive notification of new posts.