Before you even get out of bed in the morning, there are 3 simple ways you can stop sabotaging your day.
Time is your most valuable resource, but it’s also your most vulnerable. Time can’t protect itself.
The only thing time knows how to do is flow. It continually, relentlessly evaporates. It’s vulnerable. It’s your job to protect it.
So you do what every busy person does – look for a new calendar or a planner.
But what’s interesting is that all of them fail because none of them get at the root of the issue.
Managing time starts with managing your mindset, especially at the start of your day.
All too often, when it comes to dealing with time, we over focus on our actions and never change the underlying thoughts that are shaping everything we do. Therefore, we don’t get the results we want.
Let’s change that today.
Three soundtracks that will change your relationship with time.
A “soundtrack” is Jon Acuff’s (author of Soundtracks) phrase for a repetitive thought.
Our brains don’t like to change, so the minute you start trying something new, old soundtracks, old programming, old beliefs will launch a full out assault to get you to stay comfortable – same ol’ same ol’.
Here are three of the most common broken soundtracks about time that stop us dead in our tracks.
Broken Soundtrack 1: “I don’t control my schedule.”
The problem is we focus on the things we can’t control versus the things we can control.”
The real problem with the soundtrack, “I don’t control my schedule” is that it tends to turn into “I don’t control ANY of my schedule.” It’s a subtle change, but it’s a powerful one.
You don’t control ANY of the 168 hours in the week? You’re 0 for 168? I don’t believe that.
“Ask yourself how many hours of the week your boss requires you to be in a certain place, doing a certain thing, at a certain time.
It’s probably less than you think.” I guarantee that right now, for the majority of you, regardless of the job you have, your boss has not assigned exact actions for all 40 hours of the work week.
Ever been waiting at the airport waiting for your flight to take off? What do you choose? Never-ending scrolling on TikTok? Or, answering those emails that have piled up? Or, working on the outline for that upcoming presentation? You see, we all have control in the space of time we don’t even recognize.
Broken Soundtrack 1
Don’t say: “I don’t control my schedule.”
New Soundtrack 1
Instead say: “Focus on what I can control, not what I can’t control.” Or shorten it a bit and say, “Don’t let my excuses dictate my day.”
An excuse is just another name for a broken soundtrack.
The second broken soundtrack you will hear when you try to manage your time is:
Broken Soundtrack 2 “Surprises and emergencies in my week make it impossible to plan.”
“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”Mike Tyson
Let’s be real, life is going to punch you in the mouth. It is.
If you want to be frustrated and disappointed, just try to plan out every one of your 168 hours this week. There are going to be surprises, unexpected obstacles and emergencies. That’s how life works.
But here’s the thing, there are less than you think. How do I know that? Because you’ve never really paid attention to how many there are. We’re so busy reacting and living in chaos that we never recognize that there are only a handful of surprises in every week. There’s not 100. There’s probably not even a dozen.
Then there are the pretend emergencies that aren’t really emergencies. If a coworker says, “I need you to review this document ASAP,” it’s tempting to completely drop everything you’re doing, throw your whole schedule into a tailspin and spend time on that unexpected emergency. But what if instead you replied, “I’m booked solid today, but have a window open tomorrow at 2PM? Could I review it then and give you feedback by 4PM?”
That level of detail would blow their mind and chances are they don’t need your feedback right this second. They’re just living in their own chaos zone and trying to invite you in.
Let’s do another soundtrack switch out.
Broken Soundtrack 2
Don’t say: “Surprises and emergencies in my week make it impossible to plan.”
New Soundtrack 2
Instead say: “Life is full of surprises, but there are less than I think.”
Want a fun, silly bit of homework? Count surprises this week. Just keep a running list in your phone or your notebook. Count things that pop up unexpectedly in your week that cost you at least an hour of time. If you get a 10-minute phone call from a friend out of the blue, don’t count that. I’m talking about an emergency or surprise that takes at least an hour of your time. I promise you’ll be surprised how few there really are.
Want to take this to an even higher level of performance? When you encounter something unexpected, ask yourself two questions:
➡️ Has this happened before?
➡️ Will this happen again?
If the answer is “yes” to either of those questions, then you need to build a system. I’ll teach you how to do that in the Today I Can (TIC) Community.
But for now know this, if something happens repeatedly, it’s not a surprise or an emergency. It’s a situation begging for you to create a system to handle it.
You can’t schedule emergencies, but the best Emergency Departments have a plan for when they do happen. They have a system to accommodate the unexpected broken leg, a car crash, or a heart attack. They know how to shift patients, create space in the day, and get people the care they need.
They plan for the unplanned and so can you.
The third broken soundtrack you’ll hear is
Broken Soundtrack 3: “I don’t have enough time.”
You don’t? Neither do I. But when you keep an honest calendar it teaches you that maybe you’re trying to shove too many things into one week.
That sometimes happens to me. I come up with too many actions I want to take, too many goals I want to accomplish and too many commitments for one week.
I don’t know that though until I start assigning them hours. When I do that, I get a quick education in time management from my calendar.
It forces me, in the best possible way, to prioritize. The calendar gives me natural boundaries I can use to my advantage.
For instance, if I know it takes me 10 hours to map out a workshop I’m running, and I only have 2 hours available to do that in my average week, it’s going to take me five weeks to complete it. Instead of feeling like a failure when I’m unable to accomplish a 10-hour task in one week, I have choices.
- Choose to find more time.
- Choose to be patient with the process.
- Choose to complain about being too busy.
I’ve tried that last option hundreds of times and although it gives me the false sense of feeling important, “Look how busy I am!” it doesn’t accomplish anything.
One of the things that’s helped me find more time and be patient with the process is using the Fail Proof Planning System. Seeing ALL my commitments, personal and professional, in one place really simplifies planning for me.
Yes, self-discipline is hard.
But, calendar discipline is easy.
If you’re not a naturally disciplined person, have a hard time focusing, and feel scattered, the calendar gives you a perfectly defined set of constraints to create in. Your week is no longer shapeless and overwhelming.
Let’s do one last soundtrack switch out.
Broken Soundtrack 3
Don’t say: “I don’t have enough time.”
New Soundtrack 3
Instead say: “I have the perfect amount of time for the things that matter most.”
You do. You have enough time for the things that matter.
I hope you have too much free time. I hope your biggest issue is that you have so much time on your hands that you don’t know what to do with yourself. What a wonderful problem that would be.
But more than likely, you’re like me. There’s a lot going on and you want to manage your time a little better.
Practice those soundtracks the next time you feel busy and scattered.
And check out the Today I Can (TIC) Community, where you’ll meet others just like you who are learning how best to work on their goals, be accountable and have a great time doing it together.