Why You Are Stuck

Are you finding that something is holding you back from getting to where you want to go?  You know you need to find your place, but don’t seem to be moving any closer to discovering it.  Or perhaps you know what you want but can’t seem to make progress towards getting it.
If you are like most people, what you are going to find is holding you back is that you don’t want to do the things that you MUST DO in order to move forward.  In addition to doing what we LOVE to do, we also have to do many things we DON’T like to do.

It’s Called Discipline.

The word gets a bad rap.  We think discipline and we think of visits to the principal’s office leaning with our hands on the desk while a wooden paddle crossed our hindquarters a few times for errant behavior.
Yeah, I’m aging myself with that one.  Not that it ever happened to me or you! (right!).
But the word discipline takes it root in instruction and order.  Jesus called his followers disciples, because they received instruction, learned order and self-control.  We need that in order to move forward and succeed, because it gets us past the barriers of things we don’t want to do or fear doing.
Let me emphasize here:  I am as guilty of this as anybody.  I will not tell you that I have mastered this.  Like you, I am fighting this battle every day.

No Job is Perfect.

I LOVE what I do!
I love the opportunity to get up and talk before groups of people, to share knowledge with people, to help them improve, to help them grow.  But there are parts of the job that I don’t particularly care for.
But I have to do them anyway.

Frog Legs?  Yeah.  But the Whole Frog?

We are all going to have things that we dislike doing, but we are going to have to do them in order to move ahead.  Your success comes from doing it anyway; as Brian Tracy says,
You have to eat the frog!
Identify those things that are particularly distasteful or that you dislike and DO THEM ANYWAY!
Zig Ziglar says when we do the things we need to do when we need to do them, the day will come when we can do the things we want to do when we want to do them.

Actions Steps to Success

  1. DO UNPLEASANT THINGS FIRST.  Do them before you do anything else.  There is a psychological aspect to this.  By doing things you don’t like first and getting them out of the way, it provides a relief factor that allows you to be more effective the rest of the day.  In addition, any thing else seems pleasant by comparison.  It also gets them done.
  2. DO NOTHING ELSE UNTIL YOU COMPLETE THE MUST-DO TASKS! Even if it means you just sit in your chair and stare.  Don’t do anything else until you accomplish the things you don’t like to do.  This is a tough one but it’s where we learn discipline.  If you are faced with the prospect of doing something you don’t like or just sitting there all day staring into space, which are you going to choose?  Even if you initially choose staring into space, you will tire of it quickly and break down and do the unpleasant thing.  When I was a kid, like many other kids, I didn’t want to eat my vegetables.  My parents made it clear I was not leaving the table until I did.  I was faced with the prospect of getting it over with and going to watch Batman on TV or just sitting there.  It didn’t take me long to break down and do it.
  3. REWARD YOURSELF FOR DOING THE RIGHT THING.  You want to provide a positive impact for making the right choices and doing the right thing.  It provides motivation and makes doing the things you don’t like to do that much easier.  Some argue you should also provide consequences for not doing it.  Timothy Ferriss, author of The Four Hour Work Week and other books, shared that if he didn’t get things done during the day, he would intentionally wake himself up at 2 a.m. and force himself to work as a consequence.  I think simply not doing anything else is consequence enough.

What about you?  What do you do to practice discipline and accomplish things you don’t like to do?

Re-setting Time

Trying to manage timeThis past week was the time for most where we change our clocks to end Daylight Saving Time.  I remembered it always, as many did, by the phrase “Spring Forward, Fall Back“.  Of course, most of us don’t have to worry about it much anymore as our computers and smartphones will do it for us.  That, and a few years ago I got one of those alarm clocks that automatically adjusts for Daylight Saving Time.  After that, my only chore is to go re-set the ones that don’t automatically adjust.

The gist of it for us is that we theoretically “gained an hour” this weekend.  Never mind that we really just get back the one we lost in the Spring, everyone looks at as gaining an hour.

So here’s a question for you:

how much more productive did that “extra hour” make you this weekend?

Since it occurs in the middle of the night, likely the only benefit most see from it is the extra hour of sleep (that you lost in the Spring).  Some, like me, got up at the same time as always, usually around 5 a.m., and followed our normal routine.  Being a weekend, many were taking time off from being really productive anyway; but even if we weren’t it is doubtful that the extra hour made us any more productive.  It has more to do than just with the fact that the change occurs in the middle of the night.

Time is Not Important

Time is not what makes us productive.  With each tick of the clock, time passes no matter what.  Twenty-four hours and today becomes yesterday, tomorrow becomes today.  That’s all any of us ever have; from the President of the United States to the most successful person in your organization to the least productive person you know.  Everyone has 24 hours in a day.  Yet, many times, our time is frittered away with things like

  • Constantly checking our Facebook page (this has become one of the biggest wasters around)
  • Playing games, either online, on a smartphone or tablet, or on a game box
  • Television (and most of it is trash)
  • Procrastinating
  • Going to meetings
  • Being somewhere else in our mind other than where we are
  • Running in multiple directions throughout the day

There is, of course, much more but that is a good start.

Your 110

A good friend of mine and a very wise person, Jeff Bigby of Awaken the Nation, shows the math of our time in his presentations.  Jeff asks his workshop participants about how they spend their 110.  See, Jeff points out the following formula on your weekly schedule:

  • There are 168 hours in a week
    • We spend an average of 56 hours sleeping (assuming you are sleeping eight hours)
    • We spend 40 hours working (or more, not including the commute)
    • About two hours a day in meals for a total of 14 hours per week
    • That leaves about 58 hours per week.
    • Go to church?  Let’s say two hours.  That’s 56 left or 8 hours a day.

110 hours a week is manageable time

So, in that eight hours a day we have “administrative” things we have to do during the day, plus whatever else we want to do to.  Reading, family time, devotional/meditation time, community service, watching television, etc.  The point is that there is a part of your week you have limited control over.  Most of us NEED eight hours of sleep a night.  Most of us MUST work 8 hours a day for five days a week.  Eating 3-5 regular meals a day is CRITICAL to good health (as is eating the right things)!  So we have 110 hours a week over which we have almost total control!

So the issue is not time; it is how productively you are using that time.  You cannot manage time, no matter how hard you try.  So, what do you manage?

Manage YOU Not Time

I am no different from you on this.  I waste time pretty much every day.  But I have become aware of that and aware of my ability to make choices in changing that and examining my time wasters.  If I can do that, I am extremely confident that you can too.  Here’s some of the things I am doing to help bring that under control:

  1. Prioritize and Categorize
    Establish things into areas of must do, should do, nice to do for the week.  Ideally, do this on Sunday night or Monday morning.  Within each of those categorize them based on the part of your life they address; such as work project, family, health, etc.  Within each category, number them based on importance.  The importance is determined by time constraint, critical stage, or just your own personal plan.
  2.  The Daily Big Three
    Each morning, or the night before, list the top three things you need to carry out that day.  Take the top items of each category and place them on your list.  Number those according to importance.  There may be more than three, but the point is that you don’t go to bed tonight without accomplishing the Big Three.  Place the bullfrogs at the top of the list; the things you procrasitate on or simply hate to do.  Get them out of the way first thing and the rest of the day will be pleasant by comparison.
  3. Self-Talk
    It doesn’t matter what others say to us, it matters what we say to ourselves.  Encourage yourself. Talk yourself up.  Remember what you are made of.  Many of your tasks will be things you don’t want to do, have often gone out of your way to avoid, and might even be incredibly boring.  If you don’t talk yourself up, you will simply find another excuse.
  4. Reward System
    For each item accomplished, provide a reward of some type.  It should be a reward that is quick, easy, and yet provides incentive.  If you are a Facebook fanatic, each item completed earns you 15 minutes of Facebook time.  Now, for that to be a real incentive has to mean that you aren’t getting Facebook time without accomplishing the task.  If you are going to do it anyway, it’s no incentive.
  5. Consequences
    Sometimes one of the big three does not get accomplished due to something out of our control, but that’s a rarity.  Either way, fault or not, provide a consequence for not completing one of the big three.  Just like providing consequences for your kids, it has to be timely, connected, and reasonable.  For example, I read about what person who uses the consequence that when he doesn’t accomplish his tasks he wakes himself up in the middle of the night to work for an hour or two.  He values his sleep so much that it provides him incentive to manage himself better and avoid that consequence.  Be careful, though; if you find yourself administering a consequence too much it starts to lose its impact.  Change them up from time to time.
  6. Analyze
    At the end of the week, take a look back and see how things have gone.  Did things go better or worse?  Where could things have gone better?  Why?  How could you do it differently?  What can you tell yourself to help make it better?

So this is a little system I use for me.  How about you?  How do you manage yourself daily?  Got tips and tricks?  Be a river and not a reservoir!  Share them here