When I first started using my planner I had no clear direction in sight - I merely knew I needed to get organized somehow. As the years rolled by I discovered more and more about time management, but I was missing something. I learned to go beyond "time management" and get into my heart and life.
Actually, time management is a poor word for what a dayplanner helps you do. I like the phrase Hyrum Smith uses, "event control". You can't really control time...you can control the events that happen in time. You are going to learn to manage the events in your life to make the most of the time you have - and you have the same 24 hours that I have each day - no more, no less.
Events have two extremes - those events over which we have total control, and those events over which we have no control. All events are at either end of the spectrum or somewhere in between with partial control as shown in the model below.
Our problem with controlling events is twofold: we think we can change things over which we have no control, or think we can't change things over which we have total or partial control. Look at this list of people and events:
what you eat
how much you weigh
what you wear
how you style your hair
what you read
your activities at work
what time you go to bed
what time you get up
and on, and on...
Quite a list - and it's only a beginning of the things and people we encounter each day. Make your own list like this of as many things as you can think of from your life. Number the items from 1 - 5 with 1 being for "things over which I have no control" and 5 for "things over which I have total control. The "things I have some control" will get numbers 2 - 4.
Those Nasty Fives and Fours
After looking at your list the first thing you have to realize is you can't change anything that has a 5 beside it. Have you noticed that most of the things with 4's and 5's beside them are other people? You have no control over things other people do, so you can let go of them and stop trying. Don't fret over them, worry about them, or waste your time getting angry about them. (That's not to say you shouldn't pray about them, or help them gain knowledge to change their stance. There are things you can do to influence others, but you can't MAKE them change.)
You are going to spend your time in a much more productive manner from now on. Treat 4's in much the same manner. You don't have a lot to say about these things. Do what you can and learn to flow with life. It's called "adapting" and we all have to do it. You will cause yourself pain and suffering if you spend lots of time trying to change things that you have no control over. It's alot like the maxim: "Lord, let me change the things I can, let go of the things I can't, and the wisdom to know the difference" (loosely quoted).
Those Thrilling Threes, Twos and Ones
We are moving toward the end of the model where we can exert some degree of control. The closer you get to #1, the more influence you have over the event or person. These are the items over which you can and must use well-thought-out planning. When you control the events you have power over, your life begins to take shape, you begin to feel good about yourself, your self-esteem rises, YOU happen to things instead of things happening to you. Things don't chase you down and overcome you, you chase and overcome them. You have more power than you think - and that's what wise use of a dayplanner does - it empowers you for success in life.
It is important to remember that you can do something about 1's, 2's and 3's. Don't let past failures, conditioning, other's opinions, or fear keep you from exerting control over the things you have some degree of control over. We tend to cripple ourselves with our own minds. We think things like "I failed before; I'll never succeed, so why try." or, "I don't have the capacity to deal with this. I'm not (smart, witty, funny, etc. etc. etc.) enough to do it." or, "So and so doesn't think I should do this." or, "There is no way I can face this problem. I think I will ignore it. Maybe it will go away." Do you see how the lies we tell ourselves stop us from attaining new levels of personal growth?
Reaching these new levels require that you leave your comfort zones - you know, those places where you feel safe and secure. Comfort zones protect you from embarrassment, failure, defeat, low self-esteem, having to face problems and more, or so we think. But do comfort zones really have our best interest at heart? If a comfort zone could talk it would say something along these lines, "Oh, don't leave me. We are so cozy here together. I don't want you to change or grow. Just stay the way you are. Run to me whenever you need a friend to console you. I'll let you hide here." Comfort zones stiffle you and keep you from forging ahead. We run to these supposed safe havens, and then are disgusted with ourselves for our lack of courage, lack of attaining goals, weakness, failure and so on. Success feels great and raises your opinion of yourself. Take a chance and leave your comfort zone every now and then. Pleasant surprises await you.
This section could use a page all its own, but I am going to be brief. Most of us have a dreadful habit of never getting to the things that matter most. Things manage to pop up and like the squeeky wheels, get oiled, while the engine is falling apart! We deal with robbers like interruptions, disorganization of others, delays, waiting, change of plans and other things imposed by other people while dealing with our own poor organizational skills, lack of knowledge, sidetrackable nature, bad attitude, poor health and tiredness, procrastination, junk shuffling, running around, no clear plans, no clean place to work, and wonder why we never seem to get anything of importance accomplished. Some of these thiefs are not avoidable and are 4's and 5's - beyond our control, but many, many, many of them are self imposed. These are the things you can do something about.
You're going to have to play Time Cop (or Time Detective) and figure out what is causing your ineffeciency. Scrutinize situations and the course of your day to see what are the principle stumbling blocks to increased productivity. Stealers imposed by others are not always avoidable, but can be brought to a minimum by a few simple techniques.
Interruptions can best be dealt with by getting to the point and avoiding unnecessary chit-chat. Take control of conversations and get to the point; then don't feel badly by cutting conversations short. Some workers and friends can talk for hours and tie up much of your valuable time. Ask a question like, "How can I help you?"; then once you have found out and given an answer, excuse yourself by saying you are busy. You needn't offer an explanation - you are busy and that's that.
Self-inflicted time stealers are another matter. These will require diligence (which you may not have) and thought (which you will need to do). Many of the time robbers are going to take care of themselves as you learn to use and implement a dayplanner. You will have less paper to shuffle and won't be searching for important notes, your day will be planned, your thoughts and priorities will be organized, you will be less inclined to procrastinate, you will be reminded to take vitamins and get enough sleep, be able to pace yourself better, and more.
Clutter is a huge time waster - you have to wade through it, shuffle it, move it, care for it, pile and repile it, etc. We tend our junk like a shepherd. We ought to name it and adopt it - it claims as much or more of our time as our legitimate children! Use your planner (as outlined in further lessons) to make a plan of attack to disinherit your clutter. Clutter cannot love you back - it just takes, takes, takes.
One success will lead to another and that is our best hope for self-discipline. No one can make you do your work. No one can make you take control of your life, but as you learn and practice event control you will have many successes along the way. These will provide the encouragement to further success.
A dayplanner will also help you get things finished. This is a major problem for many people. They are great starters and have grand ideas, but poor follow-through with the end that nothing ever gets done. Better planning will help you as long as you are willing to do the work and deal with other time wasters.
I have a friend who has 6 children. Her home was always clean and orderly, while mine was usually a mess. During my frequent lament I asked her the magic question we have all heard, "How do you do it?" Her answer amazed me and helped me see what I was doing. She said, "Well, you have to stay home once in awhile." Was this true? Was I never home? I had to face the reality that I was always on the run and home just long enough to add to the mess. You are going to need to cut down on some of your outside activities if you are going to free up the time to work toward your goals. A prioritized daily plan will help you decide what's important to you.
Your health is another thing that may keep you from success. I have been there - just too tired or draggy to get up. Your health has more to do with success than you realize. It surfaces on nearly everyone's value list and needs to be addressed. What will you be able to do if your health is gone?
Time stealers are in everyone's life. Take some time to search them out and think of ways to deal with each one. Be ready when they surface in your day. No one is immune to there detrimental effect, but the effect can be minimized with proper handling.
Click on the next button for the lesson about values, the most important lesson in this whole series. I would go so far as to say it is even the most important page in my whole website.
I have been so fortunate to find such a great group of graphics. Thank you, Amreta, for the use of this adorable set. Please visit her well-done website for some beautiful artwork. Just click on the graphic link below.