Welcome to The Living Room!

Welcome to The Living Room!

I'm developing this blog to foster a warm community of people interested in ideas, art, science and practice around personal development and flourishing.

I work as an executive coach, and founded a company whose mission is helping people to find success at work in a way that provides satisfaction across all areas of their lives (you can check us out at www.madeleineshaw.com.au).

Leadership, learning, the wonderful brain/body connection, presence, influence, emotions, thinking, effectiveness, flow and FUN.

I want to know more, and do more!

The world is our living room so let's get living.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Get excited about finding time.

Do you want to find more hours in the day? Here's how: first, cull unnecessary meetings..  blah blah blah. WAIT. Before you get into the nitty gritty of how to cheat a few more minutes here and there, stop and ask yourself:

Why do you want the extra time?
Is it to keep doing exactly what you do now, but have it spread out over an even longer period? No, I didn't think so. So many of us feel we don't have enough time, but trying to find more, just "because", usually isn't enough to motivate us to make a real change. 

Someone stuggling to start an exercise program might genuinely protest that they couldn't possibly find an hour a week to get to a class at the gym. But could you find 5 hours a week to sit in a meeting room, if I were to pay you $500,000 each time? Yes, I thought so!

A consultant, Ron Ashkenas (see here) did some research that illustrates nicely that we can find time if we really want to:

"Imagine if the president of your company personally asked you to take on a special assignment — working directly for her. The project would take one day per week but you would have to continue your regular job in the remaining time. Would you take the assignment? By now we've asked this question to hundreds of managers — most who complain about not having enough time already — and 99% say they would take the assignment."

Most of us know we can find time in our week if we really want to. The problem isn't time - it's motivation. So, if you haven't got the company president knocking on your door, or a lazy half-million from me on offer, how do you find that motivation?

The 3 step process for getting excited about time management

Step 1 - Find your underlying driver.

(a) Grab a piece of paper and write down the answer to this question:
If you had more time, what would it allow?
(b) Now write down the answer to this question:
When you have that, what will it give you?
(c) Now write down the answer to this question:
When you've got that, what will it allow?
(d) Keep going until your answer resonates powerfully and you don't see any need to go further. Take a look at that final answer - that's your underlying driver - the basic reason you want more time.

For example, Peter might say:
If I had more time, it would allow me to get the sales reports done on time.
When I get the sales reports done on time, it will give me my Thursday nights back.
When I have my Thursday nights back, it will allow me to get to the gym.
When I am going to the gym, it will give me more energy and a clear head.
When I have more energy and a clear head, it will allow me to be more focused and calm.
When I am more focused and calm, it will give me a sense of control over what I'm doing.

So John's underlying driver is have a sense of control over what he is doing. For you it might be more time with your family, a sense of freedom - anything. But it needs to be the ultimate reason - the one with nothing else underneath it.
By focusing on the deep motivation underlying your urge to find more time, you will be more driven to make the changes. 

Step 2 - Decide what changes will support you.

I just googled "time management tips" and got 17,300,000 results. But simply following someone else's list isn't necessarily going to work for you. You need your own list, and you need to create it with your underlying driver in mind.
Brainstorm options - without analysing.
Without thinking too much, jot down 3 things you'd do differently, if they would guarantee you wild success in achieving your underlying driver.
Just for fun, jot down another 3 things you'd do differently, in order to free up those 5 hours a week and pocket the $500,000. Quick - no analysing - just get them down.
Now scan your calendar for the past couple of months, and the couple upcoming, and generate 3 more ideas.
What else would you add? Remember, you're not committing at this stage - so capture whatever comes up. What other options do you have - if they guarantee you will successfully achieve your underlying driver?
 Step 3 - Commit to Action

Now it's time to analyse and commit. 
Take a look at your list of options and decide which ones you will commit to putting into action. Which ones are most likely to work for you? Which ones have you feeling excited and motivated?
When you have your action list, rate it: On a scale of 1 to 10 (where 10 is certain), how likely are you to stick with it?
If your answer is less than 10, what do you need to change to make it a 10? 
Make those changes.

Now go and do it.

Have fun, and enjoy your time! 

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