Less is More

We all know that one result of poor time management is that we don't accomplish what we NEED TO.  Note the words in capitals.  A big part of time management is identifying what exactly is IMPORTANT to get done (high priorities) and focusing on those items.  Lower-priority items are pushed to bottom of the list, or dropped.

Another negative of poor time management is that we don't make good decisions when we are under time pressure.

As a general rule, people who are rushed, and thereby do not have the time to consider all their options, DEFAULT to short-cuts - assumptions that may or may not hold water.

Here is a perfect example:

Researchers surveyed groups of people on their interest in buying a camera.

One of the cameras (the superior product) had only a few features but they were the really important ones.  The other camera had lots of features but they were unimportant to the overall quality of the camera.

One group had 30 seconds to make a decision.  17% chose the camera with the fewer features (the superior product). Another group had 60 seconds.  38% chose the superior product.  The third group had even more time and 67% chose the better camera.

This study shows that when people are short on time they make assumptions:  "Well, one camera has more features so it must be the better camera."

When pressed (or stressed) people often make bad choices.  One objective of good time management is to prevent yourself from being in situations where you have to make important decisions with limited time for in-depth analysis.  

Jim Randel is the founder and author of The Skinny On book series, condensed explanations of important life skills.  Randel's books are currently best sellers in China - three of his e-books in the top 100 best-selling e-books in China.  The Skinny on Time Management is #10 on the e-book best seller list in China, and #2 on Amazon.com's list of best-selling e-books in Chinese. 

I have recently read an excellent book on a topic that is related to time management.

It is titled The Power of Full Engagement:  Managing Energy, Not Time, is the Key to High Performance and Renewal by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz.

While the title is a little too long (I believe in short and sweet stuff), the message of the book is critical.

Time management experts, consultants, and authors all labor with  identifying techniques for finding you more time during the day.  And, these are to some degree valuable (although I will never be able to execute on half of them).

What I can understand, however, and what is the premise of the book above is that the real variable is ENERGY not time.  Time without the requisite energy - physical, emotional, mental and spiritual - is, well excuse the pun, "a waste of time." 

Efficacy toward your goals is to some degree about having the time to execute.  BUT, it is also about having the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual energy you need to execute.  If you lack the level of energy you need to be at your best, then the additional time to perform below the requisite level for achievement does you no darn good.

Loehr and Schwartz's book give a detailed understanding of what each of us can do to maximize our energy in all four of our human actions (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual).

In subsequent blog posts, I am going to summarize for you what I have learned from this well-written and researched book.

Jim Randel is the founder and author of The Skinny On book series, condensed explanations of important life skills.  Randel's books are currently best sellers in China - three of his e-books in the top 100 best-selling e-books in China.  The Skinny on Time Management is #10 on the e-book best seller list in China, and #2 on Amazon.com's list of best-selling e-books in Chinese. 

Time management means a lot of different things to different people.

Let's agree on one definition and go with it:

"The most effective use of today's 24 hours."

The key word in that little sentence is EFFECTIVE.

Too many people focus on developing "time management" techniques that can help you find an extra 15 minutes a day.  OK, great, now what?  How do you use that extra 15 minutes? 

The point is that time is only valuable if you use it effectively.

Let me give you a simplistic example.  Let's say that your time management consultant advises you to get out of bed 15 minutes earlier than usual every day next week.  Great, you now have almost two hours of "extra" time.

But, what if as a result of your earlier-than-usual arising you are a little sluggish in a couple of afternoons next week, and your output is lower than it might have been.  Are you better or worse off?

In subsequent posts we are going to touch on time management techniques because that is what blogs on time management do, BUT what we are going to spend most of our time on is a discussion of EFFICACY

HOW CAN YOU BE MORE EFFECTIVE WITH THE TIME YOU DO HAVE?

As we are going to learn, the key is not about time management techniques ("touch every piece of paper only once" - EEK) but rather energy, focus, prioritizing, and self-reflection.

Jim Randel is the founder and author of The Skinny On book series, condensed explanations of important life skills.  Randel's books are currently best sellers in China - three of his e-books in the top 100 best-selling e-books in China.  The Skinny on Time Management is #10 on the e-book best seller list in China, and #2 on Amazon.com's list of best-selling e-books in Chinese. 

Today, we are going to start a new topic - time management.

The most valuable asset you have is time. How you use it will determine what your future looks like. It's that simple.

Over the next month or two we are going to discuss the subject of time management and how to maximize your time. This does not mean, by the way, that you need to be working or doing important stuff all the time. As we will learn in subsequent blogs, RENEWAL is a critical factor in effective time management. And renewal means rest and relaxation, vacations and long walks on the beach.

What time management does mean is getting the most out of the hours of the day when you are intending to be productive.

Today, we are going to speak to guarding your time.  One of the big problems people have is saying "no" to requests from others.  This problem is especially common when the request is say 30 days from now.

Here is a rule of thumb:  if you do not have time to do whatever is requested of you TODAY, then you are probably not going to have time to do it 30 days from now. 

We all suffer from what is called the planning fallacy which stands for the proposition that we THINK we will have more time in the future. Not generally true. If we do not have a lot of open time today, we will most likely not have that kind of open time in the future.

So, be careful when thinking about an obligation that does not arise for 30 days.  You might very well rue saying "yes" today - especially 30 days from now actually arrives!

Jim Randel is the founder and author of The Skinny On book series, condensed explanations of important life skills.  Randel's books are currently best sellers in China - three of his e-books in the top 100 best-selling e-books in China.  The Skinny on Time Management is #10 on the e-book best seller list in China, and #2 on Amazon.com's list of best-selling e-books in Chinese. 

I have met many super intelligent and well educated people in my life. Not all of them are successful. Why? Although they have big IQs, they do not have great LIFE SKILLS.

I have also met many people with moderate intelligence and sometimes no education who are super successful. Why? LIFE SKILLS.

Life Skills are not taught in school. That is why I have been writing about them for ten years. I believe they are as or more important than book smarts.

For the next month or so, I am going to write about the art of persuasion – how to convince someone to adopt whatever it is you are selling – a product, service, or idea. There is no life skill more important than knowing how to move minds.

The good news is that there are great books on the subject. And many studies on what works and what does not. We are going to access all of those books and studies.

Today, I am going to start with Rule #1: people are persuaded by those they are comfortable with

This is almost too simplistic for words. And yet, so many people miss opportunities for a successful persuasion because they do not maximize this rule.

The great Dale Carnegie wrote a book in 1936, How to Win Friends and Influence People. This book has sold 10 million copies and IS TODAY (80 years after publication) ranked #30 on Amazon’s best seller list. That is extraordinary.

We will discuss Carnegie’s book (and many others) in the weeks ahead but here are Carnegie’s five rules for winning people over:  (1) smile, (2) show interest in the other person, (3) encourage the other person to talk about himself or herself, (4) make the other person feel important, and (5) pay close attention to what the other person is saying.

So darn simple.

Jim Randel is the founder and author of The Skinny On book series, condensed explanations of important life skills.  Randel's books are currently best sellers in China - three of his e-books in the top 100 best-selling e-books in China.  One of Randel’s books is The Skinny on the Art of Persuasion. 

When you are stuck and need a creative idea, there are times when your brain tells you:

"Quiet … you are about to have a breakthrough!"

Scientists have learned that people about to have an insight experience a distinct brain signal just before the insight occurs.

Dr. Mark Beeman, a professor at Northwestern University, has studied the neuroscience of insights.  Here is how he describes the process inside your head:

"About a second and a half before people solved the problem with insight, they had this sudden and prolonged increase in alpha band activity over the right occipital lobe, the region that processes visual information coming into the brain. We think the alpha activity signifies people sort of had an inkling that they were getting close to solving the problem … they wanted to shut down so they could decrease the noise in the brain, in order to allow them to see the solution better."

This is an intriguing notion, and I believe we all instinctively are aware of it. 

Were you ever speaking with someone and then had the sense that an idea was forming in your head.  So you reflexively looked away from that person, off into the distance, to focus on the budding idea?  We all tend to do this or something similar as we receive signals that our brain needs us to cut down on distractions and pay attention.

 "It's the brain's way of shutting down inputs to focus on subtle internal signals.  If you don't do this, insight is unlikely to occur."

                                    Your Brain at Work, David Rock (Harper Collins, 2009)

Jim Randel is the founder and author of The Skinny On book series, condensed explanations of important life skills.  Randel's books are currently best sellers in China - three of his e-books in the top 100 best-selling e-books in China.  One of Randel’s books is The Skinny on Creativity. 

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