Last week in my Monday Pep Talk we talked about self imposed deadlines, and I asked everyone how they deal with deadlines and time management in their businesses, what works for them, what they struggle with and here is some of the feedback I got.
“In terms of meeting deadlines in my business, I sometimes needed to be stricter as I was accountable to myself. I found that motivation helps and sometimes sharing what I hope to achieve with someone else. When I look back I think its good to also remember to give myself credit, especially when I managed to make this happen within a short period of time” Sophia H
“I find it a lot easier to meet deadlines for things I’m excited about / like. Much harder when it’s something that I’m seeing as a chore. Reframing required perhaps?“ Sophia
“I am also very hard on myself with self imposed deadlines, but I have realised that it is ok to slip the deadline a little if it is not a critical deadline and if it means that you will produce a better outcome if you ease off slightly and stop beating yourself up.” Lara
Lara also asked me
”I would love to know how you are tackling your book writing in order to ensure you meet your deadline. Are you chunking up your work and working for specific times per day or do you have a system in place or are you learning as you go? The reason I ask is that I am just finding my way through setting a discipline for working on my own but without making it feel like a 9 to 5 job, and it would be very useful to know how you are approaching your work.”
So here is my answer and I hope it is useful to some of you:
I use my 7 steps.
I know that sounds like everything comes back to them, but it really does – even time management.
Step 1. Awareness
– what is involved? When do I like to write? When do I work best? What time do I have available to write? What else do I have to do?
Step 2. Aspiration
– What do I want to achieve and why am I doing it? (I remind myself of this OFTEN!)
Step 3. Acceptance
– What else have I got to do, what other commitments do I have?
I am not superhuman, I have the same amount of time as a=everyone else, what will need to slip in order for me to have more time?
Step 4. Action
– actually writing – even when I write rubbish I write in the times I have designated. I then go back in and edit the ‘rubbish’ the next day.
Step 5. Accountability
– this is when I decided to do the crowdfunding campaign – I knew writing for me wasn’t enough, writing for you and publicly sharing, is what keeps me accountable!
Step 6. Acknowledgement
– What is working, what isn’t working, what have I achieved? Do I need to move the deadline etc.
Step 7. Appreciation
– wow, I’ve written 50k words!! And I’m kinda proud of some of them! ☺
Here is the thing, I talk a lot about Doing Vs Being which is about finding a balance between doing work and being you. Between doing for the sake of doing but also doing the things you have got to do AND being. Being you, being happy, being healthy, being creative.
It’s about balancing deliberate and emergent strategy – hitting targets and going in a specific direction while also leaving space for opportunity and magic.
We are human BEINGS not human DOINGS.
As a society we glorify busy.
Have you played ‘Busy top trumps’ recently?
You know when you say to your friend or partner – “How was your day?”
“Oh, I was soooo busy – I didn’t even stop for lunch.”
and then they say
“Well I can’t even remember the last time I had a lunch break,”
and you say
“I haven’t had an evening off in weeks, I mean I just seem to be doing stuff all day long and even then my to do list isn’t any shorter.”
“Well my to- do list is twice as long and most of the things on it are impossible!”
Everything integrates when you stop…. Remember to take a time out and remember what is important to you.
Some of our best ‘work’ happens when we stop.
Very much like when you build muscle going to the gym, you actually get stronger on your rest days, it is on the rest days that the muscles rebuild.Deliberate strategy keeps you focused. Emergent strategy provides beautiful uncertainty.
If you are at step 1: Awareness, try this:
Work out how are you spending your time.
For just one day, pay attention to where your time is spent.
• Make a note in your notebook of how long things actually take.
• What tasks are you spending your time on?
• What do you enjoy?
• What are you avoiding?
• Why are you avoiding it?
Be clear about how you are actually spending your time, just for one day, be aware and make a note of how long you spend answering emails, doing research, making calls, or whatever it is that you are doing.
After one day look at how you have been spending your time:
• Are you spending your time in a way that is congruent with your goals?
• Are you putting off the important but not urgent stuff?
• How are you processing everything that needs your attention and action?
• How realistic is your scheduling?
• Do you need to be stricter or do you need to give yourself a break?
Each of us is different, thats the beauty, so do what works for you! Self Govern! Take responsibility for your life and live it with integrity, joy and honour…sometimes that means working harder, sometimes it means working less and being more, or playing more!