Who doesn’t want more time and energy for family, friends, and personal passions? Author Helene Segura coaches real people in the real world to operate more efficiently during the workday, so they can have a life outside it. Her engaging time management program caters to diverse learning styles, offering case studies that allow readers to self-diagnose and zero in on the strategies most appropriate for them. Anyone wanting to streamline workflow and improve productivity can employ her wonderfully doable techniques for clearing task lists, handling reminder systems, scheduling a variety of priorities, and even managing emails and phone calls. Thanks to Segura’s astute attention to personality, The Inefficiency Assassin meets readers where they are struggling and details quick and easy-to-implement strategies to, as Segura promises, “kick chaos to the curb.”
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The Inefficiency Assassin
Time Management Tactics for Working Smarter, Not Longer
By Helene Segura
New World LibraryCopyright © 2016 Helene Segura
All rights reserved.
It's All in Your Head: End the Overwhelm by Adjusting Your Mind-Set
The fear of clients not returning for more business, the worry of running out of time for anything and everything, the urgency to burn the midnight oil in order to finish the next task on your never-ending to-do list ... these things don't work. That's why you're reading this.
As businesspeople who want to succeed, we can so easily get sucked into the mentality of "I must do this task or project for my job or business, or else I'll lose out!" What if we turned the tables around and thought that way about our personal priorities? "I should spend time supporting my health or family or marriage, or else I'll lose out!" Will saying yes to that "one more thing" for work support your priorities in life?
If you read nothing else in this book, but you understand this strategy, this concept — "I should spend time supporting my health or family or marriage, or else I'll lose out!" — and live by it, know this:
You will be productive and have a life outside of your business or your job.
It's all about mind-set and mind management.
It truly is ... all in your head.
A MONSTER LESSON
Have you seen the movie Aliens lately? It's the second movie in the franchise. Sigourney Weaver stars as Ellen Ripley and kicks some serious space-monster booty! Ripley wakes up after hurtling through space back toward her home planet, spending 57 years in a deep sleep after escaping from a nasty, slimy alien beast on a colony planet. After her recovery, the powers that be ask her to return to the planet with a crew of Marines because the current settlers on the planet have stopped responding. Hmmm ... I wonder what happened to them.
Fast-forward to aliens with razor-sharp teeth, covered in slime, chomping down on one Marine at a time, until they're down to just six people in command central. Bill Paxton's character, Private Hudson, has been whining the entire time about everything that's going wrong. "We're gonna die!" "What are we gonna do?" "There's no way out!"
Ripley takes a deep breath, looks around at everyone, and calmly says to Hudson, "Now I want you to get on a terminal and call up some kind of floor-plan file. Do you understand? Construction blueprints. Anything that shows the layout of this place. Are you listening? I need to see air ducts. I need to see electrical access tunnels. Sub-basements. Every possible way into this complex. We don't have much time. Hudson, just relax."
In the midst of meltdowns by other crew members who were overwhelmed by the mayhem surrounding them, Ellen Ripley was able to remain calm and keep things in perspective.
The situation was critical, but she knew: You have to take your time to save time.
She understood how to Create Clarity.
YOUR SECRET WEAPON IS ...
I meet folks from all professions and walks of life when I speak as The Inefficiency Assassin. I also have wonderful phone coaching clients all over the world. The number one question I get asked is, "What is the best _____ to use?" You can fill in the blank with such words as calendar, file folder, file cabinet, task app, cord manager — you name it. I'm always asked about a product. Or if a company wants to hire me to present at their conference or training, they want me to include a "Top 10 Tools" list as one of my deliverables. Everyone wants to know the secret quick fix.
Depending on how much time I have at that moment, I try to briefly explain that tools are just tools and won't work unless something else, something bigger — an extreme strategy — is learned.
Since you and I have the time right now, let's talk about what that mind-bending concept is.
What is the key to organization and productivity?
I can tell you that there are no shopping lists involved. There's not an inventory of tools or supplies to purchase. No containers. No apps.
Do you want the answer to the question they always ask? Do you want to know what your Time Management Revolution needs in order to work?
Here's a hint: you already possess the most critical tool a person needs in order to be successful with time management.
It's your brain!
That's right, my comrades-in-arms. Your brain is your secret weapon! There's nothing special to buy! Managing your time comes down to how you train your brain to think.
Now, don't get me wrong; calendars and apps are tools you can utilize. But the key tool is your brain — because it's your brain that decides what goes on those calendars and what tasks get added to those apps or lists, whichever you choose to use to track what you need to do.
Your brain is what will make you, and it is also what can break you.
Every decision you make, from the time you roll out of bed in the morning until the time your head hits the pillow in the evening, will affect your personal life and work life.
Your brain makes your decisions.
Therefore, that gob of gray matter that resides in your skull is your key to failure ... or success.
Your brain is in total control of everything you do. It decides how much time you waste and how much time you utilize. It decides whether you'll procrastinate or jump in and get things done. Your brain determines your reaction and response to every person who communicates with you and every situation in which you're placed. And if you've got too much spinning around up there, you can end up with brain constipation.
It's important to understand that you can't be on autopilot. You must be conscious, aware, intentional, present, cognizant — whichever term you prefer to use — regarding your decisions about how you use your time. Your brain will help you to implement your Time Management Revolution.
CREATING AND CARING FOR YOUR SECRET WEAPON
In this first part of the book, we'll be discussing the C in CIA — Create Clarity. You'll learn how you can care for and utilize your secret weapon — your brain.
In order to Create Clarity, we must do the following:
Capture our priorities
Identify our targets
Reflect with power
Be open to change
When you achieve this part of the mission, completing the rest of the productivity operation — parts 2 and 3 — is that much easier.
Ready? It's time to do some capturing!CHAPTER 2
Capture Your Priorities
What would you do if flames were spreading quickly in your home, and you had just a few minutes to evacuate? My client Carol was once, unfortunately, in that situation. She lived in the Midwest on a quiet street, in a two-story house with a wraparound front porch and white picket fence. The fire in her house started in the middle of the night from an electrical short in the basement, so she and her family had to scramble down the stairs from their bedrooms and get out of the house as soon as possible. When I asked her what she grabbed as she ran out of the house, she replied, "I realized in that moment that my physical possessions were pretty unimportant. I made sure my family was out, our pets were accounted for, and we had our medications to stay in good health."
Those frightening moments brought Carol's priorities into focus. She was reminded that the most important thing in her life was the well-being of her loved ones. That fire devastated the house, and they were forced to rebuild. But this experience changed her perspective on how she spent her days. Having that clarity about her life's priorities helped her to make better decisions in the future about how she wanted to use her time. She realized that work would always be there, but her family might not.
Make any and all decisions in work and life based on your priorities. Post your priorities in a place where you can view them daily.
Capture Your Personal Priorities
1. Brainstorm: Write down (on paper or digitally) everyone and every goal that's important to your life.
2. From this list, write down your top three or four personal priorities.
3. View your personal priorities list every day.
4. Make decisions in your personal life and in your work life based on these priorities.
Capture Your Work Priorities
1. Brainstorm: Write down (on paper or digitally) every belief, objective, and concept that's important to your work.
2. From this list, write down your top three or four work priorities.
3. View your work priorities list every day.
4. Make decisions in your personal life and in your business life based on these priorities.
In order to stay focused on what you're trying to accomplish in your career, you need to understand what your priorities in life are. We often think we know what they are because we've casually thought about them from time to time, but until we set our priorities down on paper (or in the computer) in a place where we can view them on a daily basis, they do not become ingrained in our thoughts. And when they're not ingrained, we tend to lose sight of the big picture and wind up lost — off our path, in the opposite direction of our mission.
While we all have daily priorities like ensuring that we have enough gas in our vehicle to get to the next meeting, or making sure that we have dinner at some point in the evening, we need to examine the bigger picture.
I have multiple clients who, when their careers first started taking off, would work all day long, take a break to have dinner with the family, and then go right back to working on their computers. The time they used to spend in togetherness with their families in the evenings had been replaced by quality time with the computer. And that put a bit of strain on their relationships. They had lost sight of two of their priorities: their spouse and children. The decisions they were making at the time were not supporting their relationships with their families. That needed to change.
Many of my clients struggle with guilt. They'd wanted to attend all their kids' games, but they began missing many of them because their schedules became so hectic. In the back of their minds, they knew they wanted to be on the sidelines to root for their children, but they did not have this priority listed in a place where they could view it when it came time to plan their calendars. "Attending my kids' games" was one of the first items they listed when we put together their priorities list.
By the way, who should be at the very top of your priorities list? That's right — you! What's this, you ask? Why you? Well, when it comes down to it, it really is all about you.
Let's use an analogy. It's one I'm sure you've heard used many times, but I'm going to use it again here because it's so accurate. If you've ever flown in an airplane, then you know the drill that the flight attendants go through during their preflight safety checklist. Frequent fliers are still talking on their phones or flipping through magazines and usually ignore the verbal safety instructions. During the presentation, this line is uttered:
It's a helluva start, being able to recognize what makes you happy.
— Attributed to Lucille Ball
"In the event that cabin pressure changes and oxygen masks are needed, please adjust yours first before helping others around you."
Mmm. So true. How can we help others if we can't breathe ourselves?
So, it's time to put on our own oxygen masks.
Knowing what our top three or four priorities are in our lives gives us the clarity to make better decisions about how we use our time each day. No need to wait for a fire or near-death experience to force you to reevaluate your life!
When we move from having thoughts float around between the conscious and subconscious parts of our brains, to having those thoughts reside fully in the conscious part, we become more aware and focused. That's what happens when we write down our goals and view them daily. They're no longer random thoughts that pop in and out of our minds. The wiring in our brains that helped us to capture these ideas helps us to turn those random thoughts into focused goals.
As you mull over the questions I'll ask in the following paragraphs, don't focus yet on when these things will happen. Instead, focus on what it is that needs to happen.
Whom do you want to keep happy in your life? Your significant other? Your kids? Who is important to you? They will be your people priorities. Whatever future decisions you'll need to make will be based on whether the action you take will support the relationship you want to have with your people priorities.
What activities will support the relationships you want to have with your people priorities? Is participating in a religious organization a priority? Is travel a priority? What activities will bring you peace? What activities will support your own personal health and well-being? Whatever future decisions you'll need to make will be based on whether the action you take will support your activity priorities.
Is your career a priority? What is your company's mission? What business goals are you trying to accomplish? What activities will bring you income or revenue? If you work for a company, which tasks get you the highest rankings on your annual evaluations? Whatever future decisions you'll need to make will be based on whether the action you take will support your work priorities.
Ah, clarity. You now have a clear idea of your mission in life. This will allow you to make better decisions about how you use your time. The next time your brain tries to drag you away from the present and you have to decide whether to follow that tangent, or the next time someone asks you to do something, make a decision based on the priorities that you've just written down.
Will doing xyz task help you to achieve a priority on your list?
If the answer is yes, get it done. If the answer is no, don't do it. If you have a boss who disagrees, be sure to read part 3, in which we discuss how to communicate with others. If you are your own boss, you have the power to make these decisions.
Hang on to your brainstorm exercises. We'll be using these, along with your priorities lists, a little later. We'll learn how to use these lists to schedule your days, and I'll go into more detail on how to make better decisions about how to use your time.
Excerpted from The Inefficiency Assassin by Helene Segura. Copyright © 2016 Helene Segura. Excerpted by permission of New World Library.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsIntroduction: Your Time Management Revolution Starts Here!,
PART 1. CREATE CLARITY,
Chapter 1. It's All in Your Head: End the Overwhelm by Adjusting Your Mind-Set,
Chapter 2. Capture Your Priorities,
Chapter 3. Identify Your Targets,
Chapter 4. Administer Self-Care,
Chapter 5. Reflect with Power,
Chapter 6. Rendezvous: Your Date with Change and Discomfort,
PART 2. IMPLEMENT STRUCTURE AND FLOW,
Chapter 7. It's All in Your Head: Prevent Drowning through Structure and Flow,
Chapter 8. Manage Long-Term Projects with Mega-efficiency,
Chapter 9. Get It All Done in 24 Hours: Turn To-Do Lists into Done Lists,
Chapter 10. Set Reminders, and Never Forget Again,
Chapter 11. Set Up and Maintain a Productive Work Space,
Chapter 12. Dig Out from a Buried Office,
Chapter 13. Create a Go-Bag and Mobile Office for Road Warriors,
Chapter 14. Set Boundaries in the Digital Age,
Chapter 15. Manage Your Incoming Email,
Chapter 16. Dig Out from a Flooded Inbox,
Chapter 17. Utilize the Telephone More Efficiently,
Chapter 18. Set Up a Simple Filing System That Works,
Chapter 19. Deal with Incoming Daily Paper,
Chapter 20. Take Notes Anytime, Anywhere — and Never Lose Them,
Chapter 21. Know Where Your Time Goes, So That You Can Tell Your Time What to Do,
Chapter 22. Schedule around Your Personal Priorities and Targets,
Chapter 23. Determine Your High-Value Work Responsibilities,
Chapter 24. Schedule around Your Work Priorities and Targets,
Chapter 25. Scheduling for Road Warriors,
PART 3. ASSEMBLE YOUR TEAM,
Chapter 26. It's All in Your Head: It Takes a Village,
Chapter 27. Assemble Your Personal Team,
Chapter 28. Assemble Your Work Team,
Chapter 29. Facilitate Productive Team Meetings,
Chapter 30. Delegate the Right Stuff to the Right People,
PART 4. SITUATIONAL SOLUTIONS,
Chapter 31. I Multitask, but I Still Can't Finish Everything,
Chapter 32. My Brain Is Constantly in Overdrive,
Chapter 33. I've Got Brainus Interruptus and Ideas Overload,
Chapter 34. I Am Constantly Interrupted or Distracted,
Chapter 35. When Crap Happens, I Go into a Tailspin,
Chapter 36. I Procrastinate a Lot,
Chapter 37. I May Not Be a Perfectionist, but I Want Everything Just Right,
Chapter 38. I Have a Tough Time Sleeping,
Chapter 39. I Often Am Late or Miss Appointments,
Chapter 40. I Often Let Great Opportunities Turn into Big Stress,
Chapter 41. I Have to Drop Everything When My Clients Call Me in Crisis,
Chapter 42. I'd Love to Control My Time, but I Don't Know What to Say to People,
Chapter 43. I Never Stick to My Time Management Plan,
Conclusion: Be an Agent of Change in Your Time Management Revolution,
About the Author,