Time management is sexy
As was established in my last post, “Are you busy or productive?” there’s a difference between busyness and productivity. I used to be very busy—or at least, I acted very busy. I routinely jumped from task to task, perpetually flustered, always going but rarely getting anything of substance done. My system worked in some respects. I did get a lot of minor tasks done, and I invariably completed my work and schoolwork on time and with quality assurance, but I had terrible time management.
Perpetual busyness is exhausting and unfulfilling. I wanted to control my time, not the other way around. So, I made a change.
I tried a variety of methods to calm my life, with limited success. Practices such as meditation, yoga, and square breathing didn’t address the root of my problem: my flawed system which led to poor time management. (Learn more about why you should set systems.)
My system was centered on completing the dozen or more tasks on my daily to-do list. This system created a chronic micro- rather than a macro-focus problem, and invariably made it easy to jump from task to task while requiring no big picture thinking.
The system change
My system change came from listening to Jim Kwik, a guy who has devoted much of his life to studying and teaching people how to enhance their brain performance.
Each night, he writes down three professional goals, three personal goals, three things he wants to feel, and three things he wants to be. This made a lot of sense to me, and after only a few days of trying it out, I was hooked.
Rather than focusing on minute tasks, this strategy forced me to consider the big picture and be fairly specific in organizing my priorities.
Hey, what about setting goals? You said not to do that! Yes and no. As I mention in “Create Systems, Not Goals,” goals are meant to give direction, systems are designed to generate lasting results. My daily goals give me direction, my system allows me to consistently move forward in their achievement.
As an example, here is my outline for today which I wrote last night:
Professional and personal goals
For the sake of brevity, I’m only going to focus on the professional and personal goals right now. My next article will discuss the feeling and being parts of my system.
As you can see, my three professional goals involve working on Today Will Be Amazing, ASI (my only paying job at the moment), and Touch Marketing Solutions (my soon-to-be-paying digital marketing business).
My personal goals involve limiting phone time, speaking positively to myself, and dedicating an hour to learning.
All these goals are very big picture. Of course, each big picture item invariably involves a lot of minor tasks—posting on social media, sending emails, writing, research, and more. But my day and mental energy no longer revolve around the details. I get to make big picture decisions in the moment. Crossing items off my to-do list isn’t my worry anymore.
Additionally, limiting myself to three professional goals each day encourages more focused attention. It’s a lot easier to divide my day into three sections compared to 12 or 15 or more (depending on how many items are on my to-do list). My focus isn’t divided between a dozen mundane tasks, but narrowed in on my three big picture priorities. This narrowed focus increases productivity, creativity, and my ability to achieve a state of flow. Time management for the win!
Although I’ve only been implementing this system for a short time, it has already done wonders. I still accomplish a lot each day, but I no longer run around like a chicken with its head cut off. And my personal goals—often involving spending time in nature, doing things that make me happy, or being mindful—ensure that I have a fairly balanced day. I manage my time, rather than the other way around.
I’m definitely not perfect. I still sometimes get caught up in details, feel unmotivated, and don’t achieve what I want. But that’s okay, because what matters is the direction and the system. And right now, I’m quite happy having traded the pointless busyness for direction and big picture purpose.
In my next article, I’ll talk about feeling and being. I’ll also discuss some strategies I use to improve my time management and efficiency. But for now, have a great, unbusy day. Follow TWBA on Instagram and Facebook and sign up for our mailing list :