It’s About Time

I promised to write a blog post every Friday. It is now Monday afternoon and my 2 and half week old blog has 1 post.

Why is it so hard to manage our time? Every occasion where we fail to do something we hoped to do, or renege on a commitment we made, or waste a whole day with burnout-induced procrastination begs that question. Poor time-management is an epidemic. Why?

Don’t ask me. I am far from an authority on the subject. You won’t read anything here that hasn’t been said better by someone smarter elsewhere. If that’s what you’re looking for, I’m sorry.

What I do hope to provide are some potentially helpful solutions. Let me brainstorm here. Let me regurgitate some helpful solutions I have found.

First, consider the “ringing effect”. Matt Perman exposed me to this idea in his magisterial book on productivity called “What’s Best Next”. You would do well to read that one! The “ringing effect” is a theory that posits that “whenever most systems — such as airports, freeways, and other such things — exceed about 90 percent capacity, efficiency drops massively. Not just slightly, but massively.” We’ve all seen this in effect on the highway at rush-hour. Haven’t you wondered why we all can’t just drive fast together?? I have. It’s because the system has neared capacity — the slightest disruption has ripple effects that freezes the whole system, and brings it to a stand-still. Is your schedule so jam-packed that it can’t abide even the smallest disruption? Are you telling me that less structure in my schedule will make me more productive? Perhaps.

Next, something Matt Perman also helped me with was organizing my schedule in the first place. Do you prioritize your schedule? Good. But you would do better by scheduling your priorities. What are your goals? What projects do you need to make progress on? What do you want to make progress on? What is really important in your life? Schedule time for those things in your weekly schedule, then protect that time, and do what you planned to do. Michael Hyatt has some helpful resources here too. If you fail to schedule your priorities then there is plenty in life that will push them out, or someone else will recruit you for their priorities.

There’s plenty more to say on the subject, but I want to brief. I’m sure I’ll wind up in the topic again sometime. I’ll conclude by mentioning something so obvious that it may be profound. Discipline is simply committing to doing something and following through with it. Therefore, with genuine discipline we can accomplish any goal we may set, or any ambition we may have. It’s really that simple. The problem is that it is not that easy. It’s easy to feel like we know better when the time comes to do what we planned to do. Or decide that we really don’t care as much as we thought we did when we made the commitment. Or we convince ourselves that 90% commitment is good enough — a little cheating won’t hurt. Where did we get those ideas? That’s a serious question too. One I’ll maybe web-log about someday.

But for now let’s just try making a plan to do something good, and then do the good we planned to do. And when we fail to do the good we planned to do every time we planned to do it, then let’s brush ourselves off, remember the good we planned to do, and then do it.

All the while, let’s remember the grace that enables it all.

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