Manage Your Time (Part 3 of 3) – Events

Time

Events can be meetings, time reserved to work on a task, taking the kids to a sporting event or an anniversary.  Some are all-day; others are for a specific amount of time.  Some get added seemingly on a random basis, others become a regular weekly or monthly activity.

Here are some ways to use the Calendar feature:

  • Set an anniversary or birthday as an all-day event.  Add-in the holiday’s and birthdays for the entire year.
  • Reserve time to work on an important task or to simply think.
  • Color-code the events to distinguish time at work, family or house-related things.
  • Integrate multiple calendars into a single view.
  • Keep a family calendar so that each family member sees the others’ schedules.
  • Don’t fill up the hour.  Schedule 30 or 45 minute meetings and practice the efficiency of shorter meetings.
  • Schedule time for taking care of yourself…heart, mind, body and soul.  Look ahead to reserve a day or a week off from work.
  • Work in the cloud so that your schedule is portable.

Look at your calendar for the week ahead to make sure you’re spending time the way you really want to; cancel or reschedule the less important events.  Living to your potential means that you maximize how you spend your time toward your goals and values.  Adherence to your calendar schedule is also a sign of respect.  We show people we value them when we simply get together and when show up on time.

 

Manage Your Time (Part 2 of 3) – Relationships

Time

“Surround yourself with people who make you a better person”. 

Everyone has an address book or contact list on their phone.  Mine currently has over 700 names.  How do you keep track of who is important?  I hope you agree with me that your Facebook “friends” aren’t all equally important and that’s it’s sometimes better to pick up the phone and talk or have a meal together.

You can use various contact managers but I like Microsoft Outlook (part of my Office 365 subscription).  Contact management is simply using an app to decide when to contact people and capture what was talked about.  It is a way to prioritize and remember.  A feature I like is the “timeline”; you can see a history of texts and e-mails just by selecting a person’s name.

Here is the basic idea:  I have a friend who has moved out of town.  I simply “flag” his name and give it a due date and it immediately shows up on my to-do list.  When that day arrives, I can choose to e-mail or call or just push it out to another date.  Others, like my siblings and children are permanently flagged.

Keep one list for family, home and work.  Look at the names from time-to-time and edit them; some contacts get deleted, others get acted upon.  We have many life roles and many people who are part of our life including family, friends, and co-workers.  Invest in relationships that you choose as important.  Show them by your actions that they are important.

Manage Your Time (Part 1 of 3) – Tasks

Time

We are bombarded with things that require our attention or action.  How do you choose what to act on?  How do you keep track of commitments and deadlines?  Living to your potential requires a personal system to manage tasks.

Here’s how to get started:

  • Make a list. You can do this in a physical planner, on paper or index cards or with software.  I like the “to-do” apps because items are easily changeable and can be carried on your phone.  Learn to “say no” so that some things never make it to the list.
  • Categorize. Assign categories such as family, house and work.  Keep only one list that combines work and home activities.
  • Prioritize. The high priority actions should be consistent with your Goals and Purpose.
  • Set due dates. Some tasks have obvious due dates, e.g. planning a birthday party or meeting a customer due date, others may be flexible and solely driven by you.  Some tasks are recurring.
  • Plan each day. Take five minutes each day to decide what needs your time and attention.  I like to do this each evening so that I can immediately get started in the morning.
  • Take action. You don’t have to be a slave to the list but accomplishing one (or more) important tasks each day can transform your life. Avoid procrastination.

There are many ways to do task management.  Experiment and find the one that’s right for you, one that balances effectiveness and simplicity.

 

Make Empathy a Habit

Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.  It is temporarily stepping into their situation and attempting to think, feel and experience what another is feeling.  It is related to but not the same as sympathy which is feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune.

Empathy can be learned.  It starts with becoming mindful but is built on a curiosity to consider an alternate viewpoint.  You listen and become available without needing to solve a problem.  You suspend judgement.  Comfort is offered.  It can be a spiritual experience. Empathy is an essential life skill and habit.

As a parent, you may wonder “what is the crying baby feeling?” or “why is my teen moody?”  It’s important as a volunteer and as a manager.  It is an important skill in any role and a wonderful way to build closer relationships.  Empathy is easier if you have a similar experience.  I know what it’s like to lose a parent but not a child.  I know what it’s like to be a dad but not a mom.  That doesn’t mean I can’t try to better understand.

Empathy is one of those life skills that can change the world.  Imagine stepping into the shoes of a migrant worker, or someone in a wheelchair, or someone from the other political party.  Our judging mind tends to exclude others who are not like us.  What if we shifted our mindset to one of understanding?

This blog was inspired by my recent reading of the book Empathy: Why It Matters, and How to Get It by Roman Krznaric.

Mentoring is a Core Life Skill

mentoring

When writing on the topic of mentoring I am usually focused on its importance in helping other people.  This blog focuses on what it can do for each of us…not to be selfish but to embrace that service is a two-way street.  It is one of those foundational, but higher-level, life skills that we can use every day in any relationship.

To be a good mentor, you must learn essential life skills:

  • Active listening and asking powerful open-ended questions.
  • Empathy, putting yourself in another’s situation.
  • Encouragement, leading to persistence and resilience.
  • Affirmations, helping another see something good in themselves.
  • Visioning, seeing and planning a bold future.
  • Goal setting and action planning, getting something important done every day.

Mentors see life as a process of development.  It starts with an orientation toward serving and supporting someone else.  It emerges from an emotion of care or love.  If you are a mentor then you have a “heart to serve”.  I’m sure you want to be good at it.  Try going deeper and thinking of it as an accumulation of skills, each of which is important in its own way.  Once you learn them you can apply them in everyday situations toward those you care about.

Mentoring is about inspiration, care and support of another but it transforms us too at many levels…heart, mind, body and soul.  It is a skill worth mastering to improve our own capacity for purpose and knowing ourselves deeply.  Consider taking on a formal mentoring role because “we grow as we serve”.

 

Expectations

Expectations

Expectation (noun): a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future; a belief that someone will or should achieve something.  The key word in the definition above is belief.

Expectations have a way of hurting you and another.  When you have an expectation and when the relationship is important, you set yourself up for conflict and disappointment.

For example, you expect your eighteen-year-old teen to be home by curfew or you expect an employee to complete an assignment by tomorrow morning.  These are statements of “follow my rules” with a real or implied consequence.  If the relationship isn’t important it matters less, e.g. you expect the painter you hired to do the job without getting paint on the floor.

Expectations may have a place when you have young children but being a demanding parent of a teen or being a forceful manager isn’t a good long-term approach.  This approach must be used selectively or it leads to resentment and hurt feelings, including your own.  In an earlier blog, I wrote about intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation.  Expectations are clearly an attempt at the latter.

All too often, an expectation is a way of trying to change someone.  You can’t change someone else, you can only change yourself.  Watch your language to see if expectations are a primary way of communicating.  If you are the giver of expectations try asking, enrolling, envisioning or silent role modeling.  If you are the receiver of expectations, try to understand the “why”.

The Discomfort of Inaction

Inaction

We know that it is important to seek personal growth, to accept challenges, to move out of our comfort zone.  We should take small or big steps to move us forward to Purpose, Vision and Goals.  We don’t always do this because we lack courage or have some limiting beliefs.  Fear can hold us back but I’m beginning to feel that other negative emotions emerge when we choose avoidance.  We’re going to feel some negative emotion in any case.

Regret is one of those examples.  Regret emerges when we realize that we didn’t do certain things in the past…jobs not applied for, relationships not pursued, dreams not realized.  You can regularly read stories of people who have regrets on their deathbed.  Choosing the seemingly easy path haunts us but with a delayed reaction.

Feeling a moodiness because you procrastinated is another example.  Ending the day and not completing an important task you know needed to get done weighs on our mind.  Lastly, stress exists, maybe due to a value conflict, for not being able to make a crucial decision.  It usually feels better to do something but we become paralyzed because we risk being “wrong”.

We must have the long-view of life.  This is simply choosing the long-term benefit over the short-term pain.  We must accept essential stress.  We need the courage to act or decide now to offset the future negative feelings.

Choose the path of courage and growth today.  Live each day to your potential.