I’m reading 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management by Kevin Kruse and enjoying it. One of the first things Kevin talks about is the limited number of minutes in a day and how that is one of the only things that you have that you can never get back. He also had a part in the book listing off some of the things you can do in one minute. If you think about it, you can do a lot in one minute, and some of those things are far more valuable than others. Here are some lists I have come up with.
Highly valuable things I can do in one minute:
- Tell my wife I love her
- Show my kids attention and affection
- Write an encouraging note or email
- Read one-page of a book that can impact me
- Declutter my desk or some other flat surface
- Send an encouraging text to a friend
- Write out ten things I’m thankful for
Less valuable things I often do in one minute (or more):
- Play a smartphone game
- Read an article I don’t care about
- Veg out to a video I don’t care about
- Surf Facebook, Twitter, etc.
I think you get the idea. Kevin’s point is that successful people are aware of how they spend their minutes. And, they choose to spend those minutes on things that matter and move the ball forward rather than things that don’t. I’m learning to be more aware of how I spend my minutes.
Photo by Sabri Tuzcu on Unsplash
It happened again in embarrassing fashion. I was in a social situation on Sunday with someone I had met several times. It was just him and me and our kids, so lots of interaction. We had run into one another accidentally but were now off on an adventure together with our boys kayaking at Stone Mountain. The only problem was, I couldn’t remember this guy’s name! It was terrible! So what did I do? I did the only thing I could do, the unthinkable. I asked him his name for probably the fourth time and made sure I remembered it this time. It was awful. It was embarrassing. I am going to make sure that never happens again. Here’s how.
I have had a sneaking suspicion for some time now that I am under utilizing my brain (insert snarky joke here) and my memory in particular. I know there are ways to improve mental cognition and ways to dramatically improve memory, but I have never taken the time to learn them and use them properly. That ended today.
I am publically announcing my goal to take my memory seriously. I want to be able to do the following within the next two months:
- Remember all names and faces of people I meet. ALL OF THEM! I want to be able to memorize the name of every person at a 48in48 event. That should be about 100 – 150 names. I want to do this so that people will know that I care about them and that they matter to me when I meet them.
- Be able to memorize the order of a deck of cards. I know, it’s dumb, but I want to prove to myself that I can do it, so I’m going to give it a shot.
I’m committing to this publically so that I can be accountable. I want to be able to do this by the end of October or sooner.
In light of this new goal, I started listening to the audio book Quantum Memory by Dominic O’Brien this morning. While the book is a little hooky in the beginning, after listening to it for 30 minutes and going through one exercise, I was able to remember a list of 10 completely unrelated items in order and repeat them back both forwards and backward. In fact, here is the list (from memory).
That was the list I learned from the book at 7am this morning, and I was easily able to recall it now at 10:36am. So far, I’m impressed with this book. On to the next adventure!
I have a workout app that I love. In fact, I have made it my app recommendation on my podcast because I’m impressed with it. But, I haven’t rated it on iTunes and likely won’t. Why? Because when the app asks me for a rating, it asks at the wrong time and in the wrong context.
The app always asks for a rating after I finish a workout and log it. At that point in time, I’m tired and am literally walking out the door of the gym ready to do the next thing for my day. That is not a time that I will sit down and write a review and isn’t the best location to knock out a review either. The context is wrong for me to do it, the timing is bad for me to do it, and so, I don’t do it.
My kids make this same mistake often. They ask a good question but at a terrible time or the wrong place (context). For example, my son kept wanting us to buy him a specific fidget spinner last school year. He would ask over and over, but when he would ask it would be late at night when it was already past his bedtime and too late for us to find it online together. Or, he would ask when we were in the car going somewhere, not the best time to sit down and search Amazon together. It took him a long time to get what he wanted, simply because he asked at the wrong time and in the wrong context.
As I think about this, I have to wonder where I’m missing success for these same reasons. Often success is about being at the right place at the right time. So, in the things I’m looking to accomplish I’m wondering, is my timing right? Is the context right? And, if not, how can I fix it?
When I was in college, I didn’t know my professors. I was the kid that would sit in the back of the class, half listen to the lectures (because I preferred to read the material) and then leave without speaking to the professor after class. At the time this seemed like a great strategy for flying under the radar. What I realize now is that, while it was a great way to fly under the radar, it also held me back from achieving at my highest level.
If I had been known by my professors, I would have worked harder. This was always true in school before that, every teacher that knew me got my best work, as opposed to the teachers that barely knew my name.
Being known gives us a sense of responsibility and accountability that we would not otherwise have. It doesn’t just apply to being known by people in leadership over us but also applies to peer relationships where accountability and responsibility are needed. When I’m working toward something that I want to be held accountable to, I tell people about it, so I am more motivated to get it done. Sometimes I will even blog about what I’m working on as motivation to perform at a high level.
The more we are known by one another, the more we share our hopes and dreams and even our struggles, the more we will be motivated to work hard, to perform, to achieve. When we are known we are not just another face in the crowd, we become something more, we are a community and we are better for it.
My goal for today is to do less but to make more impact on what matters. Increasing I’m aware of the 80/20 rule, how 20% of the things I do push my goals forward and 80% of what I do makes little difference. I think this rule wasn’t always true, but in modern society, with our work distractions (like email) and our other distractions (like Facebook), we can’t help but spend a lot of time on things that don’t truly impact our goals.
If you think about it, we are a very distracted society. We spend a lot of time bouncing from thing to thing to thing, all in the span of a few minutes. We sit at a table with another person while reading posts and liking pictures posted by someone else. We have a call while driving and listening to the radio, not realizing that makes us significantly more likely to wreck the car. You get the idea.
So my goal for today is to do less. I want to do less of the 80% of the junk that doesn’t move my goals forward. I also want to do less multi-tasking (because there is no such thing) so that I can focus on what is important. I’m convinced that in doing less I’ll get a lot more done.
Recently I have been using a timer to keep me focused on tasks. For example, currently my timer is set for 30-minutes, and the only thing I will do during that 30-minutes is write. I have shorter timers for other things like reading and longer timers for things like working out.
What I am discovering is how much more focused I can be when I set a timer and say to myself, “I will do nothing else during this time other than this task.” I know, it’s obvious why this works, I just can’t believe I didn’t do it before.When I set a timer and focus intently on a task a few things happen:
- Time seems to slow down. I don’t feel rushed, at all. I feel like I have enough time to think.
- I’m significantly more productive. Yesterday in between meetings I set some timers and knocked out some of my most important tasks for the day. Then something weird happened. I had a window of about 10-minutes before a meeting where I had nothing to do. I was fully caught up, during the work day! Can you imagine?
- I produce better things. Whether I’m writing a blog post, recording a podcast or just responding to email. When I am doing those things fully distraction free (with complete focus) what I produce is of much higher quality.
My encouragement is to give it a shot. Choose a task you know you need to do, but may not want to do. Set a timer for 20-minutes and commit to doing nothing but that one task for that time. I think you will get a lot more done than you think and you will experience some of what I’m experiencing as well.