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“Lorraine Bossé-Smith provides counsel, examples, and plans to help the reader find a quality of life that is enriching and ...
“Lorraine Bossé-Smith provides counsel, examples, and plans to help the reader find a quality of life that is enriching and rewarding. Her book is chock-full of personal testimony and positive ways of meeting and overcoming stress.”
-Johnnie C. Godwin, author of Syzygy: Living a Powerfully Aligned Life
“How very impressive! Bossé-Smith gives us workable, simple, and inspiring ways to take control of our lives. All of my Regional VPs will have this as required reading.”
-Amy S. Harrison, CEO, Innovative Solutions for Youth, Inc.
Lorraine Bossé-Smith is a consultant, coach, trainer, and writer. She is the President of Concept One located in Murrieta, California, but serves clients across the country. She helps people to enhance their communication, create stronger relationships, increase productivity, and improve the quality of their life.
Lorraine is in the 2005 Who’s Who of Female Executives and the 2000 Who’s Who of Entrepreneurs. In addition, Lorraine is an AFAA Certified Fitness Instructor able to teach: Precision Cycle, Sports Conditioning, Kickboxing, aerobics, Forever Fit (seniors) and Pilates Mat. She is an active individual who loves to play tennis, hike, bike, and enjoy life to its fullest!
So Much to Do, So Little Time
Time is the scarcest resource and unless it is managed, nothing else can be managed.
Ticktock. Ticktock. Time is certainly ticking away. Wherever you are, a clock is clicking away the minutes. Another one just went by as you read this sentence. Time waits for no man (or woman) and keeps marching on. In order to help you get some of your life back, we must look at how you manage your time. Are you organized? Do you keep a tidy house, everything in its place? Are you a master of scheduling and planning? Or are you like many women I know: constantly running late, forgetting appointments, never quite getting to everything you need to do and feeling frustrated?
Many clients have come to me in sheer desperation, their lives utterly out of control and their stress levels at the max. Unfortunately, a lifetime of hearing people say, "Do what feels good; I'm OK, you're OK" deceived us into believing that we didn't have to do certain hard things like manage our time. One client rebelled against my suggestions, saying they would confine her, restrict her creativity, and make her unhappy. Well, she was already miserable; what did she have to lose? The reality of getting your life organized is that you will have more free time and less stress. This, in turn, will allow you to have extra creativity and joy. Interested?
It Takes Commitment
Let me ask you this before we go any further: What would you do with an extra thirty minutes? I actually want you write it down here, so please take a moment to think about it and respond. ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________
No answer is wrong. This is your extra thirty minutes. Would you sleep? Exercise? Play with the kids? Visit family? Work? Read? By managing your time better, you can easily gain thirty minutes every day! Use what you wrote as motivation to apply the principles in this book.
Want to get really serious? Then fill in and sign the success contract below. I have every coaching and fitness client sign one. Although the contract is not legally binding, it puts on paper your commitment and your promise to do the work. If you want to get the most out of this book, I encourage you to fill this out and have a loved one or trusted friend sign as your accountability partner. I'll be your coach!
I, __________________________________, hereby make a commitment to read this book with the intent of changing my time management, thoughts, emotions, physical condition, relationships, and spiritual life. I do want my life back!
I agree to try and apply the principles, tips, and suggestions in this book for at least thirty days.
When I have kept this agreement, I believe and trust that I will be a healthier and happier person. I will celebrate by ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________
I always include a place to spell out what you will do when you succeed, because I firmly believe that we need to celebrate our victories! Too often, especially in the workplace, we move from one goal or achievement to the next without pausing long enough to say, "Good job" or "Well done!" I won't lie to you; getting your life back will take some work because it took a while to get out of balance. The good news is that it won't take nearly as long to get it back into shape.
One of the most surprising things for clients who come to me to lose weight is how quickly they can get to a healthy weight. Oftentimes, years and years of doing the wrong things and not doing the right things gets a person overweight. But in a matter of months, a person can get to a good weight. That's encouraging news, and so it is with your life. You will see improvements right away; it won't take you years to get more balanced, I promise.
It is no use saying, "We are doing our best." You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.
—SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL
This chapter is going to help you manage your time, although that is a misnomer of sorts because we really can't control time at all. Time is what it is. Days are twenty-four hours long, weeks have seven days, and the months turn into years whether we like it or not. No matter what we do, we cannot slow down or speed up time.
What we can do, however, is control the events in our lives; and, after all, that's what life really is, a series of events. If we desire greater control and security, more order and less stress, then we must manage the events that make up our lives. In this book, therefore, when we refer to or discuss time management, we are in essence addressing event management.
You don't get to choose how you're going to die ... or when. You can only decide how you're going to live.
The pages that follow describe time- and event-management techniques that can dramatically improve the quality of your life by helping you regain some control, order, and peace. By managing some of the stuff of our lives better, we can enjoy our lives more fully. As you read through, you may find that some of the tips and suggestions are habits for you already. Bravo! Others may be new to you, and I encourage you to give them a try.
If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten.
The First Step
When you read the introduction, did you list all the hats you wear? Were you surprised at how much you have going on? Like me, you probably had been aware that you were busy but didn't realize how many different ways you were expending energy. Each of our hats has a multitude of events associated with it. When I coach people on managing their time and events more efficiently, one of the first things we do is to list those events and look at the cost associated with each of them. We know what we pay for gas and a gallon of milk, but most of us really don't have a clue about how much we pay for the events in our lives.
All events are not created equal. For instance, you will expend much more energy doing something you really don't want to do compared with something you enjoy. We'll address setting boundaries in the next chapter, but for now let's just say that without setting limits, you won't be in control.
Be deliberate with your life. Too often, we think that we have to say yes to everything. We feel obligated. We must change that mind-set to one of evaluating what we do and determining what we see fit to do. I call it the Opportunity Scale.
The Opportunity Scale
Let me ask you this: As you are reading this book, what are you not doing? Some answers might be: not doing the laundry, not sleeping, not working, not feeding the dog. The truth is that as you read this book, you aren't doing anything else! By choosing to read it, you put a greater value on it at this moment than anything else. Thank you! I know you won't regret it if you stick with me.
On any given day or moment, opportunities present themselves to us. We have the choice to participate or not. And too often, my friend, that is what we have given up—our right to choose! Somewhere along the way, we just went along with life. Maybe as women we feel it is our duty. Well, ladies, it's time to get in the driver's seat!
Live as you will wish to have lived when you are dying.
—CHRISTIAN FURCHTEGOT GELLERT
Think of opportunity in terms of a scale. When a choice comes along, weigh it against its cost.
If the cost isn't too great, then you've made the right choice. If, on the other hand, the cost is too heavy, then you may want to reevaluate your decision. No right or wrong answers exist. I cannot tell you what to do, but I can tell you this: if you start being more consciously involved in your decision-making process, you will have less stress. As much as possible, make sure each opportunity outweighs the cost. This simple step will make a world of difference in your life. Start applying it immediately, OK?
The Secrets of Super-productive People
Now, back to those folks I briefly mentioned in the introduction, the ones you hate because they get everything done on time, are extremely organized, and seem to have it all together. What makes them so productive? Don't hate them; emulate them! You too can have a more organized life by using a system called IPPA. My husband and I developed it years ago, and ever since it has been helping folks get a handle on their lives. It is quite simple, really. IPPA stands for:
Identify what needs to be done.
Prioritize your goals and tasks in the order of their importance.
Plan when and how your goals and tasks will be achieved.
Act to achieve them!
In order for the system to work, you must pause long enough to look at the tasks and events in your life and determine what needs to be accomplished. Once you've done that, you can prioritize the items, then plan and take action! Everyone is unique, so your process for doing this may be different from someone else's. Here's a selection of methods; see what works best for you.
To-do list—A sheet of paper with your tasks listed. Down and dirty. Not fancy or formal.
Planning sheet—Sheet of paper in a day planner that outlines your tasks and gives you ways of prioritizing them.
Electronic device—PDA, cell phone, wireless handheld device, or other device that provides a means to keep your lists with you at all times.
Sticky notes—Help you remember things on the fly.
Goal list—A more formalized plan with specific details and due dates.
Tickler file—A folder holding your to-do items in some order for you to retrieve.
Calendar—A wall, pocket, or year-at-a-glance calendar offers daily and monthly tracking of events.
Whiteboard—Write down or erase your to-do list as needed and keep it someplace visible.
I don't want you to get caught up in the how of doing it, as long as you accomplish the what. The one method I would highly discourage you from using, though, is the pile and bulldoze method. This consists of stacking up piles until you can't find anything and then giving up, ultimately tossing everything and starting over. Some argue from among the piles that they know exactly where everything is, but I say hogwash! Folks, it has been proven over and over again that when the world around us is cluttered, so are our minds. And when our minds are cluttered, so is our soul. To reduce stress and regain some sanity, we need order. It will take some work, but you can do it!
No Pain, No Gain?
As a fitness instructor and personal trainer, I tell people that I don't always agree with the saying "no pain, no gain." Exercising is work, but it shouldn't hurt to the point of your being unable to move! In the case of creating some order, though, depending upon who you are, you can expect a little pain.
When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge.
For some people, managing tasks comes easy. They can't help it; it comes naturally. I know plenty of women who do not share that gift and they constantly struggle to stay afloat. If you are in the latter category, be encouraged. Anything done over and over again will get easier with time. When it comes to managing events, remember:
Keep it simple.
Customize your plans to work for you.
The ABCs of Prioritization
An important part of the IPPA system is prioritizing what needs to be done in your life. Don't forget to use the Opportunity Scale here and evaluate the cost. Be very sure that you are willing to pay the price before you commit to doing something.
My friend Jim Canfield has a way of prioritizing, using the ABCs:
A items are "alligators" and will bite you in the butt if you don't give them attention now. These are truly urgent and very important issues. Delay at your own peril.
B things are "bears" that are hibernating right now, but when they awake, they might eat you! These are important but not urgent. Be sure to address them when necessary, or they will ruin your day.
C matters are "crows." They may be loud and obnoxious because they sound urgent, but they aren't very important. Don't fall prey to their call.
D issues are plain "dogs." Oh, they may be cute, but they are not urgent or important. Be careful about spending time here, or your peace of mind may go to the dogs.
(Jim Canfield, Executive Forums, 2007)
Whether you use Jim's method or your own, prioritize what matters most to you! One way to do this is to create a chart such as the one below, in which A, B, C, and D items are listed in the four quadrants, according to priority.
A / Alligators
B / Bears
C / Crows
D / Dogs
Not Important/Not Urgent
The D quadrant is probably where we lose the most time and receive the least back. These are trivial activities such as handling junk mail, forwarding e-mail, and engaging in idle chitchat that gobble up our time. Before you know it, you have wasted half your day. The Internet has really become a time waster. Couple that with television, and we don't have enough hours in the day to get everything done. Well, we would have time if we managed these tasks a little better. Monitor them carefully. I had a client who got sucked into surfing the web five or six hours a day. She had to set an alarm in order to stop and get on to what really mattered. Granted, you may find these activities relaxing, but keep it in moderation, especially if you feel you just don't have enough hours in the day.
Last, items in the C quadrant can also tie us up. Examples are talking on the telephone, chatting with a visitor, and other unexpected activities that are in your face but not necessarily important. By learning how to keep these brief, you can move on to what you need to do. I estimate that for every interruption you have while working on a project, you will need at least ten minutes to get refocused.
One of my clients decided to take the priority chart to heart and he drew it on the big whiteboard in his office. Every morning, he would write out his tasks and assignments in the appropriate space. Over time, he had less and less in the crisis quadrant and more in the planning one. His stress went down and his productivity went up!
There can be no happiness if the things we believe in are different from the things we do.
It Is T.I.M.E.
If you haven't reflected lately on what matters to you, I suggest you give it some consideration. You would think we all know exactly what we want, but we don't. I love the scene in the movie Bruce Almighty when Bruce, played by Jim Carey, gets in trouble because he gave all the people on his prayer list what they wanted. He wreaked havoc, and millions of people won the lottery! God, played by Morgan Freeman, asks Bruce, "Since when do people know what they want?" Thankfully, in real life God doesn't give us everything we ask for, but we should have some sense of what is important to us.
To help my clients decide what they want, I suggest that they look at it using the framework of T.I.M.E.
Tasks we need to accomplish
Interests we enjoy
We are constantly balancing these four areas. Where are you spending most of your time? Do you focus mostly on work or career? Do you spend enough time with family, friends, and God? Are you stressing over money? Are you planning for your future, or carrying a lot of debt? Is your life energizing you, or are you being drained by it? The answers to these questions can be telling. If you feel one area is being slighted, start spending more time in it. Planning can help you do the other stuff more quickly so you have the time available for what matters to you.
For every minute you spend planning, you will reap ten times the benefit! Planning provides clarity and concrete steps to ensure that the proper action will be taken. It can literally shorten the time it takes to get something done. What was it that you wanted to do with that extra thirty minutes? Planning will definitely give you more time to do it.
After you have identified and prioritized your tasks, be sure to add twenty percent to the time you think the tasks will take. And allow what I call buffer spaces. When we pack our schedule so tightly that we do not have room for error, we've created a disaster waiting to happen. Murphy's Law tells us that what can go wrong, will go wrong! So, allow some space in between appointments. If you don't need it, fine! You can do some planning or maybe just enjoy the break.
Add twenty percent to your estimated time and always have buffer spaces in your schedule.
Personally, I plan using a combination of computer and hard copy. I enter my schedule and tasks into an electronic calendar and print out daily and weekly sheets. This way, if I am in my office, I use my computer. But when I leave for appointments, I carry the sheets with me. Others prefer PDAs, handheld wireless devices, or other high-tech stuff. One client uses a three-ring binder. She hole-punches important papers and to-do lists and places them in the binder. This way, everything is in one place. It works for her. Figure out what works for you, then use it.
Excerpted from I Want My Life Back by Lorraine Bossé-Smith. Copyright © 2008 Lorraine Bossé-Smith. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
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