What are your motivations for action?

Yes, that’s right, I’m asking you to write down your own “motivations.” Before I guide you to better manage yourself – and therefore your time – I want you to look in the mirror.

Spring has sprung for much of the country. From California to Texas and all the way to New York, you are all trying to get things done during the day so that… Ahhhh, the ever-powerful “So that”.

You say your “So that…” statements out loud when you tell someone WHY you do what you do with your life; not just what you do for a living.

I call them your motives for action.

So, what are your “So thats”? What are specific reasons you work as hard as you do? Why is it that you care as much as you do about getting the right things done…right?

By choosing to read this article, I already know something about you. There is more good you would do if you could. For the past 20 years, I have begun every coaching program with exploration at this level. And it’s a powerful process.

If you are willing to do what it takes to take your productivity, performance, and results to the next level, make sure you follow all three suggestions in this article.

Suggestion #1: Accept your current time-management problem

Bottom Line: What you’re doing isn’t working. (How do I know? You’re reading this article looking for ways to do it better!) How you are managing yourself and organizing your workspace, how you approach each day, and what you do during the day isn’t getting you ahead; you’re not able to manage yourself OR your time.

I can prove it by asking you three questions:

  • Have you tried rewriting a longer (or shorter) to-do list?
  • Have you ever gotten to the office an hour early, or worked through dinner?
  • Have you taken work on vacation, or even skipped vacation to try and catch up on all the work not done?

FACT: Your current time management methods aren’t working. If it was simply a matter (honestly, have you EVER said this?) “just catching up,” you’d have figured it out by now.You’re not caught up, and if anything you’ll have more to do next quarter than you do right now! Once you sit back and breathe THAT in, you can go to the next step.

Suggestion #2: Commit to “different”

What do you want? Exactly – and specifically – in YOUR own words:

“What. Do. You. Want?”

And, “more time” is not an answer I’d accept. (In fact, if I were coaching you and you said that, I’d fine you $20 bucks!)

No one wants more just “time;” everyone I’ve ever worked with wants the “more-they-would-do-if-they-had-more-time” that you will identify next.

Recently, a client in the financial services industry drafted the following after I asked him what he wanted to be different. In our coaching program, we call these “Ideal Sessions.” (I’ll share what he wrote in a moment.)

Want to get started? Open your journal to a new page. Your task is to write VERY clearly the “different” that you want to experience.

Respond to the following prompts in your journal/notebook.

  1. An upcoming work session: _________
  2. Number of minutes to work without distraction: ____
  3. What will I need to have done to PREPARE for that work session?
  4. (In 8 or more sentences) What would success look like if it were a great work session?
  5. Who will I need to ask to help me stay focused/accountable to that work session?

Here’s what Brian wrote:

Ideal Session – Morning at Desk
· 30 minutes of uninterrupted calls to staff in other offices to provide questions and insight
· 10 minutes of calls to partners to set face-to-face meetings to build relationships
· 10 minutes of calls to in-process active clients and partners
· 15 minutes of calls to update team and outside staff on the progress of pre-approvals

Observe that in his answers, he’d just begun the process as he only responded to the first TWO of the five prompts. So, I scheduled a second coaching session. Once he responded to all five prompts, we then scheduled a team meeting so that he could share his answers with the seven people who worked with him.

Keep reading…

Suggestion #3: Work together…together

Did you read the 5th prompt carefully?

Who will I need to ask to help me stay focused/accountable to that work session?

I’ve coached more than 500 leaders in industries as varied as the military, retail and investment banking, retail and even non-profit organizations and I know one thing for sure:

No one does it by themselves. No one person is directly responsible for ALL the good that is done, and no one falls off the “priority train” all by themselves. You see, we’re all in this together. Because of that, you need to understand what people around you need to understand so that you are a better self-manager…and, therefore, a better TIME manager.

Here’s how a few teams I work with do it, a three-step process they repeat by 9 am every day:

Step 1. Gather together in person (standing in a circle) or call in via video or phone all at the same time.

Step 2. Each person shares what they finished yesterday and what they are working on today.

Step 3. (And, perhaps the most important!) Each person makes one ASK of the group for the day. Maybe they need some support or feedback on a project they are working on.

Maybe they need to leave early to pick up kids, or they need a room they can work in by themselves for a block of time. Maybe…they need to get some acknowledgment for the work they’ve been doing.

No matter what it is, when each person makes an ask of the group, the group (no matter how big or small!) has the opportunity to help them get things done. Sure, it’ll take some of your time to do this, but the benefits outweigh the costs.

Quickly, you’ll realize the success that comes when you stop trying to manage the “tick-tock” of the clock and start managing your self, your focus and your actions. Get more done starting today when you:

  1. Accept your current approach isn’t working
  2. Identify VERY clearly what you want to experience
  3. Share that vision with people who can help you get there

Go, be productive, achieve your goals and live more of your “So that…” It’s time to really own your motives for action!