By Avinash D. Narula
Got a few minutes to spare? If your answer is in the negative, more the reason you should find time to read on time management
Take a notepad. Write down the answers to the following:
• What is my mission in life as far as my career, bank balance, family, self and society are concerned?
• What are my specific goals in each area, and by when am I committed to achieve these goals?
• Is time the limiting factor or is the block somewhere else?
• How is it that others around me seem to be progressing much better?
Read what you have just written. You will find that both your mission and goals are unclear and, perhaps, uninspiring. Now take a few more minutes to check out what is really in the way. Here are some commonly received responses. Do some of these match yours?
• Too many visitors and meetings.
• Your colleagues lack capability, enthusiasm and commitment, thus making delegation difficult or, perhaps, impossible.
• The management lacks vision and its policies are unsuitable for a good performance and personal growth.
• Family demands clash with work commitments.
• Too much work pressure.
• A lack of enthusiasm/ motivation/ confidence/training.
• Poor planning.
These, and many others, block our overall performance at work. But the real issues actually fall in three categories:
• Issues that can be addressed by systematically organizing appointments, meetings and other work. You could use an effective reminder system, make lists, or even turn to sophisticated software.
• Issues that relate to the lack of a clear-cut direction in life, both at work and at home. This is like living without a framework of reference, or a mission, and not setting goals.
• Issues that are governed by beliefs such as: Good people are not available; If I can spend more time with my family, I will be happier; and so on.
Most time management programs basically address the first category. These programs come with various attractive labels and send you home, armed with smart planners, colored markers, digital diaries, the latest software, etc. But to unleash your true power, you require to expand your effectiveness in the other two categories. The key to successful living is to focus on how to produce results with the environment just the way it is and, only if you cannot resist it, then try to reform it. If you choose to Go For It Now (GOFIN), read on…
Inverse Parkinson’s Law: ‘Time will expand to allow the work allotted to it to get done.’ Validate it with examples from your life. Most of us rush to complete our deadlines one day before, say, the start of our vacation. Miracles are known to occur under the pressure of deadlines and the fear of costs or embarrassment. Normally these deadlines are created by others. You can now put this distinction to work to produce Miracles by Design.
Instead of waiting for deadlines from others, create your own deadlines, and be committed to them. Putting something at stake is essential. Declare your deadlines to your colleagues or family, promise to pay a penalty if you cannot meet them. Get into the driver’s seat, be on top gear, accelerate by living the Inverse of Parkinson’s Law.
Your level of enthusiasm or inspiration (let us call it human energy) largely determines the day’s performance. But human energy tends to vaporize quickly. Each time a small expectation is left unfulfilled, a bit of this energy evaporates. No tea/coffee, bathroom not free, late newspaper, flat tire, delayed arrival at office…each unfulfilled expectation, however insignificant, drains your energy.
To avoid disappointments of all kinds, I recommend a simple shortcut. Just have no expectations at all. At times, however, this may not be possible, for the truth is that we cannot always control our expectations. The good news is that Recharging by Design is possible.
How do you get out of breakdowns that involve a feeling of deep hurt, embarrassment or failure? You tell yourself something like: I am not going to let this incident ruin my life. You move ahead, gradually the hurt disappears. The point is that you don’t stop.
Now apply this same reasoning at your office. The moment any expectation is not fulfilled, declare:
• ‘This is it’ or any sentence that works for you.
• ‘I am not going to let it stop me and I am complete about it.’
• ‘I am committed to pursue…'(repeat your goal).
Each time you repeat these three steps, you will experience a sense of completion and rejuvenation. Try it for a few days, for small upsets. Then for big ones. With practice, you will find that you are always in full charge.
Identifying what you want in life is essential. Most of us do not have a Mission Statement. Simply put, start with the end in mind. Just make a note of where you would like to be at the end of your life. You could cover areas such as earnings, savings, assets, family, hobbies, travel.
This need not be your final statement, you can always review it. Declare this statement to people who will support you. Display it in a prominent place. Now derive goals in each area and work on achieving them. You are now ‘on purpose’ all the time. Purpose as defined by you.
A word of caution, though. While declaring your mission, focus on what you want to pursue, and not on what looks feasible right now. Focus on actions as given by the future, not the past.
Are you willing to take a stand for your mission? Say so. Declare it periodically. Talk to yourself: This is where I want to be. And I am willing to keep chasing it, irrespective of the level of achievement. Check the way you feel. Declaring a stand and then pursuing it will give you freedom.
Each time you are in doubt, just use your Mission Statement and list of goals to make a choice. It will help create Success by Design.
And that is freedom.
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