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By BRIAN TRACY
AMACOM Copyright © 2013 Brian Tracy
All rights reserved.
The Psychology of Time Management
HOW YOU THINK and feel about yourself largely determines the quality of your life, and the emotional core of your personality is your self-esteem, defined as "how much you like yourself."
Your self-esteem is largely determined by the way you use your life and time in the development of your full potential. Your self-esteem increases when you are working efficiently, and your self-esteem goes down when you are not.
The flip side of the coin of self-esteem is called "self-efficacy," defined as the degree to which you feel you are competent, capable, and productive, able to solve your problems, do your work, and achieve your goals.
The more competent, capable, and productive you feel, the higher your self-esteem. The higher your self-esteem, the more productive and capable you will be. Each one supports and reinforces the other.
People who manage their time well feel positive, confident, and in charge of their lives.
The Law of Control
The psychology of time management is based on a simple principle called the Law of Control. This law says that you feel good about yourself to the degree to which you feel you are in control of your own life. This law also says that you feel negative about yourself to the degree to which you feel that you are not in control of your own life or work.
Psychologists refer to the difference between an internal locus of control, where you feel that you are the master of your own destiny, and an external locus of control, where you feel that you are controlled by circumstances outside yourself.
When you have an external locus of control, you feel that you are controlled by your boss and your bills, and by the pressure of your work and responsibilities. You feel that you have too much to do in too little time, and that you are not really in charge of your time and your life. Most of what you are doing, hour after hour, is reacting and responding to external events.
There is a big difference between action that is self-determined and goal-directed and reaction, which is an immediate response to external pressure. It's the difference between feeling positive and in control of your life and feeling negative, stressed, and pressured. To perform at your best, you must have a strong feeling of control in the important areas of your business and personal life.
Your Thoughts and Feelings
In psychological terms, each person has a self-concept, an internal master program that regulates his behavior in every important area of life. People with a high self-concept regarding time management see themselves and think about themselves as being well organized and productive. They are very much in charge of their lives and their work.
Your self-concept is made up of all of your ideas, pictures, images, and especially your beliefs about yourself, especially regarding the way you manage your time. Some people believe themselves to be extremely well organized and efficient. Others feel continuously overwhelmed by demands of other people and circumstances.
Beliefs Become Realities
What are your beliefs about yourself and your ability to manage your own time? Do you see yourself and think about yourself as a highly efficient and effective time manager? Do you believe you are highly productive and in complete control of your life and your work? Whatever your belief, if you think of yourself as an excellent time manager, you will naturally do those things that are consistent with that belief.
Because your self-concept causes you to continually strive for consistency between the person you see yourself as, on the inside, and the way you perform on the outside, if you believe you manage your time well, you will be a good time manager.
You can take all of the courses on time management, read all the books, and practice the various systems, but if you perceive yourself as being a poor time manager, nothing will help. If you have developed the habit of being late for meetings and appointments, or you believe that you are a disorganized person, those habits become your automatic behavior. If you do not change your beliefs about your personal levels of effectiveness and efficiency, your ability to manage your time will not change, either.
Make a Decision
How do you develop new, positive beliefs about yourself and your level of personal productivity? Fortunately, it is not difficult. You simply use the four Ds: desire, decisiveness, determination, and discipline. Most important, make a decision to develop a specific time management habit, like being early for every meeting for the foreseeable future. Every change in your life comes about when you make a clear, unequivocal decision to do something differently. Making the decision to become an excellent time manager is the first major step.
Program Your Mind
Once you have made the decision to become a highly productive person, there are a series of personal programming techniques that you can practice.
The first is to change your inner dialogue. Ninety-five percent of your emotions, and your eventual actions, are determined by the way that you talk to yourself most of the time. Repeat to yourself, "I am well organized and highly productive." Whenever you feel overwhelmed with too much work, take a time-out and say to yourself, "I am well organized and highly productive."
Affirm over and over to yourself that "I am an excellent time manager." If people ask you about your time usage, tell them "I am an excellent time manager."
Whenever you say that "I am well organized," your subconscious accepts these words as a command and begins to motivate and drive you toward actually becoming well organized in your behaviors.
Visualize Yourself as You Want to Be
The second way to transform your behaviors is to visualize yourself as an excellent time manager. See yourself as organized, efficient, and in control of your life. Remember, the person you "see" on the inside is the person you will "be" on the outside.
If you are already a well-organized and highly productive person, how would you behave differently? What would be different from the way you behave today? Create a picture of yourself as calm, confident, highly efficient, more relaxed, and able to complete large amounts of work in a short period of time.
Imagine what a highly productive person would look like. Would the person's desk be clear and tidy? Would the person appear unhurried and unstressed? Create a clear mental picture of yourself as a person who is in control of his time and life.
Act "As If"
The third way to program yourself is to act "as if" you were already a good time manager. Think of yourself as being well organized in everything you do. If you were already excellent in time management, how would you behave? What would you be doing differently? With regard to your time and personal productivity, what would be different from the way you do things now?
Interestingly enough, even if you do not think that you are a good time manager today, but nonetheless you pretend that you already are, these actions will generate a feeling of personal efficiency. You can actually change your actions, habits, and behavior when you "fake it until you make it."CHAPTER 2
Determine Your Values
SINCE TIME MANAGEMENT is really life management, improving your personal productivity begins with an examination of your values. One of Murphy's Laws says that before you do anything, you have to do something else first. It's not possible to manage your time properly unless you know exactly what your values are.
Good time management requires that you bring your control over a sequence of events into harmony with what is most important to you. If it is not important to you, then you will never feel motivated and determined to get control of your time.
Ask yourself this: "Why am I doing what I am doing?" Why do you get up in the morning? Why do you do the job you do? What is your reason for working where you work?
Meaning and Purpose
Each person has a deep need for meaning and purpose in life. One of the major reasons for personal stress and unhappiness is the feeling that what you are doing has no meaning and purpose as it applies to you and your innermost values and convictions. You must always start off by asking the question "Why?"
You can become more efficient with time management techniques, but it won't do you any good if you just become more efficient at doing something that is meaningless to you. Greater efficiency will simply increase your sense of alienation, frustration, and anxiety.
What Do You Value Most?
The next question you need to ask is, "What do you value most in life?" What do you really care about and stand for? What will you not stand for?
You will only feel really happy, valuable, and worthwhile to the degree to which your day-to-day activities are in harmony with your values. Almost all stress, tension, anxiety, and frustration, both in life and in work, comes from doing one thing while you believe and value something completely different.
There are many reports about executives experiencing burnout as the result of the stress of their work. But people who love what they are doing, and put their whole heart into their work because it is a reflection of their values, seldom experience stress or burnout of any kind. When you are living consistent with your values, you seem to experience a continuous flow of energy, enthusiasm, and creativity. Stress comes from working at things that are not consistent with your highest values.
Examine your values, your innermost beliefs and convictions, and ask yourself what changes you could make to bring your activities, on the outside, and your life priorities, on the inside, more into alignment with each other.
You Are Extraordinary
Realize and accept that you are a unique and wonderful person. Your values have grown and evolved over the course of your entire lifetime. They have emerged as the result of countless influences and experiences. They are part of your psychological and emotional DNA. They are part of your character and personality. They seldom change over time. Your job is to determine what your innermost values really are, and then to organize your life so that you are living and working consistent with those values.
Here are four sentence completion exercises that you can use to gain better insight into the person you really are inside. Complete each sentence:
1. "I am ..." If a stranger were to ask you, "Who are you, really?" what would be your answer? What are the first words that you would use to describe yourself? Would you describe yourself in terms of your work, your qualities as a person, your hopes, dreams, and aspirations? Select three to five words to complete the sentence, "I am ..."
If you were to interview the people around you, the people you live with and work with, and ask them the same question about yourself, what would they say? How would other people describe you in terms of your values and the person you really are? Based on the way you behave and treat other people, what conclusions would they come to about the person you are inside?
2. "People are ..." Think of people in general, in the world around you. How would you describe the human race? Are people good, warm, and loving? Are people lazy, devious, or untrustworthy?
Your answer will have a major influence on how you treat other people in every part of your life. It will determine just about everything you will accomplish as an executive and as a person with family and friends.
3. "Life is ..." Your response here may seem simple, but it speaks to your entire philosophy of life. Positive, healthy, happy people see life as a wonderful experience, full of ups and downs, but certainly a great adventure overall.
One of my favorite stories is about a young man who goes to an old philosopher and says, "Life is hard."
The philosopher replies, "As compared with what?"
As Helen Keller said, "Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all." What is life to you?
4. "My biggest goal in life is ..." If you could wave a magic wand and accomplish a single big goal in life, what one goal, either short or long term, would have the greatest positive impact on your life? Now, complete these sentences:
"My biggest goal in my career is ..."
"My biggest goal for my family is ..."
These are some of the most profound and important questions you can ever ask and answer for yourself. When you become clear about your answers—which will not be easy—you can then ask yourself what changes you would need to make to bring your time usage and your life priorities more into alignment with each other.
Napoleon Hill observed that life only begins to become great when we decide clearly upon our most important goal in life.
What are your most important goals?CHAPTER 3
Think About Your Vision and Mission
ONE OF THE BEST and most profound books written in the last few years is Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow. His insight is that we need to use two different types of thinking to deal with the variety of situations we face in our daily lives.
Fast thinking is the type of thinking that we use to deal with short-term tasks, responsibilities, activities, problems, and situations. We act quickly and instinctively. In most cases, fast thinking is entirely appropriate for our day-today activities.
The second type of thinking that Kahneman describes is slow thinking. That's when you step back and take more time to carefully think through the details of the situation before deciding what you are going to do. Kahneman's insight is that the failure to engage in slow thinking when it is required and necessary is the cause of many of the mistakes that we make in life.
To become excellent in time management, and to get your entire life under control, you need to engage in "slow thinking" on a regular basis. Start with the question, "What am I trying to do?"
Think Before Acting
Very often you can find yourself working extremely hard at your work, but you have not taken the time to stand back and think about what it is you really want to accomplish.
There is the story of the husband and wife who leave on a car trip from San Diego to Los Angeles. He is unfamiliar with the road but driving at full speed in any case. At a certain point, the wife says, "Honey, is Phoenix on the way to Los Angeles?"
He then says, "Why do you ask?" She answers, "Well, we just passed a sign that said we are on the road to Phoenix."
He replies, "Never mind. We're making great time!"
Before you step on the accelerator of your own life, you must develop absolute clarity about what you are really trying to accomplish.
In The Devil's Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce wrote that "the definition of fanaticism is redoubling your efforts after your aim has been forgotten."
Is your goal to create a great life? Are you trying to build a great career or accomplish a great piece of work? Your ability to stand back and engage in self-analysis and introspection-slow thinking—is essential for you to organize your time in such a way that you are the most productive, and that you are achieving the greatest amount of joy, satisfaction, and happiness from what you do.
Keep the End in Mind
Be clear about what outcomes you desire. As Stephen Covey said, "Start with the end in mind." What is the final result, outcome, or accomplishment that you are striving to achieve? Where do you want to end up at the end of the day? As you scramble up the ladder of success, be sure that it is leaning against the right building.
Are you working so that you can earn enough money to be secure and to feel happy? Are you working because you love your work, or because you feel you're on a mission to accomplish something that is very important?
What would your world look like if you accomplished your biggest goal? What is your vision for yourself and your career over the long term? What is your mission? What difference do you want to make in the lives of other people?
If all you are working for is to earn enough money to pay your bills, it's going to be hard for you to build up and maintain a high level of commitment and enthusiasm. To be truly happy and fulfilled, you must be working toward accomplishing something that is bigger than yourself, and that makes a difference in the life or work of others.
Excerpted from TIME MANAGEMENT by BRIAN TRACY. Copyright © 2013 Brian Tracy. Excerpted by permission of AMACOM.
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