Updated: Apr 30, 2019
You've earned this. Grab your favorite morning beverage and let's talk.
First of all, thank you for allowing me to be a part of your routine!
Welcome to The Plane Side! Your support and dedication to learning and growth is truly amazing. You are grinding it out, daily. I am in awe of the drive, grit, determination and faith you possess.
Time is a tricky topic ...
While we're talking about "grinding it out", one of the topics I often find myself discussing with people is time. A large number of people feel like they just don't have enough of it. Time is a tricky topic to discuss because time itself, is a universal thing but how we use our time is not universal. Time is never technically running short, slowing down, speeding up, or running out. It is always there and infinitely abundant. But, our time and how we choose to spend it; that’s a different story. Ensuring we understand the distinction between what time is and how we relate with it serves as an essential building block to growth.
I am not a time-management guru. To the contrary, I actually recognize my lack of skill when it comes to strict time management - in traditional terms. Truth be told, it’s not a lack of skill necessarily, I simply find traditional time management too restrictive. I recognize that some folks find it helpful to have a well-defined schedule that includes things like this:
9:00a - 11:00a Clients
12:00p-3:00p Team Updates
3:00p-4:00p Budget Reviews
No doubt that’s helpful for some people but it's not for me.
Too many distractions and “other things” come up throughout the course of any given day. It’s true, some of those things can be dismissed, as they are not high value tasks. But, some of those “other things” that come up are, indeed, high value tasks, so we should absolutely ensure we shift our focus accordingly.
All in all, we have 24 hours to work with on a daily basis, and we have a bunch of different things we need to do, on a daily basis.
“So, what works best for you, Justin”?
Every day, I know I need to sleep, I need to set aside creative time, I need time for reading, etc. So, I create what I’m calling, “Focus Goals”. These goals dictate how much time, in a given day, I intend to allocate my focus toward particular tasks. For example:
Creative - 3 hours
New Client Meetings - 1 hour
Client Detail Reviews - 2 hours
Blog Entries - 1 hour
Based on my list above I know I want to focus for 3 hours, per day, on being productively creative.
Sure, some days will be more and some will be less. Does it matter when those 3 hours happen? Or if they happen consecutively? ...
… Not really.
I simply take that information and I analyze where I’m at on a weekly basis. In any given week, I should be focusing, for 18 solid hours, on being productive in my creative space.
The perspective I'm attempting to clarify here is one of increased flexibility and fewer constraints. This will dramatically enhance our ability to grow.
What I've come to observe about the time topic is that we all tend to feel busy. Whenever we feel busy, it becomes easier to feel as if we’re losing control.
The first step in regaining that sense of control is recognizing the need to begin at square one. In order to get to square one, we need to do some digging … in an introspective way. A great question I think we all have to ask ourselves, if someone hasn't done it for us already is,
"When do you set aside time for you"?
Seriously, in a proactive manner, how often do you think about reserving time to spend with yourself? It’s tough to answer. I constantly hear things like, “my weekends are reserved for family” or “I take my dog on walks in the evenings”. There isn’t one proven way to calm down, relax, and reflect. That realm is completely suggestive to the individual. However, I’d encourage a person to ponder whether dog walks, gardening, exercising, or similar tasks are busy tasks keeping them from genuinely focusing on themselves or not.
Being busy and being productive are two very different things.
I mention this point because, sometimes it can feel hard, finding any time at all to spend with ourselves. When we feel busy, our time seems to be filled up.
Busy tasks are things which keep us moving and thinking; things that consume cognitive space. Tangible “busy tasks” include things like; reading emails, returning calls, organizing expenses, etc. These are things that require attention and should, absolutely, be addressed. However, people often mistake busy tasks for productive tasks because productive tasks are more difficult to define.
Productive tasks are things which translate to value increase.
Emails do need to be addressed but, do all of the emails need to be addressed? Calls should be returned but, how many and when? Accounting, or the lack thereof, can make or break the business but, do I need to be the person who manages that? Productivity is a measurable thing. I like to think of busy as quantity and productivity as quality. I can do a lot of things moderately well or I can do a few things extremely well. The level of the quality of my work will be affected no matter which path I choose.
I think we can all agree on that.
If we don't agree, please hit the comment button and let's talk about it. I sincerely enjoy learning new perspectives.
Even for me, currently, I notice moments I find myself struggling to discern a busy task from a productive task because I have so many thoughts and ideas coming and going. I know that I want to produce the highest quality work I’m able to so, I also know I have to delegate tasks to accomplish my own quality standards.
That is incredibly simplified.
My mind is racing almost non-stop. I have found myself virtually immobilized due to feeling incapable of systematically organizing thoughts, ideas, emotions, and the constant onslaught of input and output.
Information is everywhere.
In terms of growth, I do believe we should be open to new information. I love absorbing, and encouraging others to absorb as much information as possible. Information is everywhere. For a person with a mind that works the way mine works, it can be extremely difficult to block curiosity. When I say that, I really mean that. I spend inordinate amounts of time learning something.
It's a real thing.
I feel like I need to understand all the mechanisms of a thing, in order to understand the thing itself.
The concept is no different when it comes to discerning which thoughts, ideas, etc lead to busy tasks or which thoughts, ideas, etc lead to productive tasks. As a rule, I consider all my thoughts and ideas to be relevant to my big picture goals. I also feel like I need to entertain all of it. I know that I shouldn't, but I feel like I should. Here’s my thought process in that, “what if this thing is the next big thing”? So, my real challenge is to determine why a thought or idea might be irrelevant; to actual productivity. Why should I prune this thought or that idea in an effort to remain productive toward my larger goals?
I can almost guarantee you are very close to thinking, “Justin, you just overthink things”. You'd be correct if you are, because I do.
I know that about myself.
I also know I am not alone in struggling with that. I’ve come to learn that thought editing is a highly productive task and, when practiced heavily, can be done quickly and effectively. No different from learning, and subsequently honing, any other skill; the ability to prune thoughts, ideas, etc. is something that requires focus.
I personally like this time with myself, my focus time, to be free of all distractions. It’s best when it’s just me and my thoughts; in a very literal way. I focus on what's coming in. Is the input noise or not. If it passes as something that is not noise then I think on it more to determine if it's worth advancing. This is a fine line and where a ton of impulse can occur for me. A small example might be, "Do I need to prune that plant right now"? This happens quickly. I'd suppose these types of thoughts often go undetected. A sort of "second nature".
Here's the thing though regarding the plant …
… Say I have a firm schedule, 12p-12:30p, to take care of my plants each day; the thought telling me I need to prune this particular plant, by default, gets moved to the "I'll do it later, at the allotted time" bucket. But, every time I look at the plant the thought reoccurs.
If you don’t like my plant analogy, just pick something you keep thinking about and know you want to do right now but you’re putting off because it’s “not the time” to do it yet.
It is very difficult, if not impossible, to control incoming thoughts. My personal strategy is to reduce redundancy. If I don't currently like that the plant needs pruning, I will choose to eliminate redundancy in my thoughts by addressing the issue now. Then, it's done. The thought and the task. This strategy allows me to focus on higher level thoughts and decisions. Furthermore, I know that if I decide to own plants, I will care for the plants at random moments in time. That is a higher level decision I can make which will eliminate smaller thoughts and decisions from advancing. That perspective rewards me with fewer things to do, in terms of being busy - defining and editing my thoughts. I’m eliminating multiple small busy thoughts by making a few larger productive decisions.
Productivity is defined by the value our tasks are providing to someone else. When tasks we are completing directly provide value to the quality of life for someone else then we know we've been productive.
Productivity only ever increases when you stop being busy.
Reaching the foundation of your personal "why", your purpose, will allow you to have more clarity regarding your daily to-do list. It will allow you to prioritize that list into a format where the right things are getting done. Once that list is clarified, then it becomes possible to effectively create focus goals in your 24 hour day.
Follow this link to set up our initial meeting. This is a zero risk, casual meeting where you and I can sit and discuss your business and focus goals further.