Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Managing My Schedule TIMEFUL-Y

Out of Your Head                                                       Onto Your Schedule                     

My quest the last few years has been to streamline my life. Not necessarily become an efficiency freak but more to become less overwhelmed, less stressed... really I just wanted to be happier.

It started with decluttering which was freeing and did definitely clear some mental and of course physical space. I even dabbled with the concept of minimalism which was way too minimal for me. Must say I'm not a bare-minimum-kinda-gal. I'm not going to deny it, I like my stuff- at least more than what will fit in the back of my car. So when I came across the book Essentialism I found the perfect phrase and summary of what I believed was the way I wanted to live: Less but Better.

Sharing Essentialism led to a friend recommending The ONE Thing, which is a fantastic compliment to the concept of focus and making the most of our time and energy. An aspect of the book that really resonated with me was the idea of time-blocking and more specifically ensuring that we are holding our time allotted to our ONE Thing as the most important part of our day.

Green: Appointments (from iCal)
Blue: To-dos
Red: Habits
Coincidentally at the time I had been trying to put in more structure to my day and had just run across the Timeful app. It pulls from iCalendar and lets me schedule in tasks as well as habits (or as I like to think of them-- the basics or core events I build my schedule around) into the very easy to use and elegant interface.

I have always been a planner person but haven't been as disciplined as I liked lately with my time and more used them to keep track of specific appointments and notes from the day. But I know from mapping that it's hard to focus on our life when ideas, to-dos, or what's next is bouncing around in our heads.

To have one spot to mark what needs doing in my day has been life-changing. I have not only been more productive I have been calmer because I know I don't need to worry about not only remembering but finding time to accomplish my week. Knowing I don't need to think about something until it's actually time to work on it has let me be more focused and engaged with what's in front of me.

I have been slightly obsessed with it I must say. The ability to quickly move around my day and keep track of how many times I completed habits is wonderful. And I don't need to keep checking a to-do list because I already have a time allotted for when things will be done (which can easily be adjusted). Just as important it serves as a reminder when not to do things; I've gone from checking emails, social media, voice mails hourly to when allotted. Now I know if I've had a productive week according to what I say is a priority or if I've let other things steal my time.

For at least the last decade or so multitasking has been the big buzzword and it has made our lives even more harried. Focusing our time and being brutal with eliminating busyness is what I believe will make the next decade shift. If you're feeling overwhelmed, distracted, exhausted, maybe it's time to: look at what's going on in your schedule, eliminate what's not essential, and focus on what's the ONE thing that can make a difference for you.
For me: Timeful has me even more JOYful :)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

What's Your ONE Thing?

Recently I was telling close friend Vickie Austin about my newest favorite book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less (my review) when she mentioned how it reminded her of one of her favorite books The ONE Thing: The Surprising Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results (Gary Keller & Jay Papasan). Now I must say it's a tie... I love both of these books and together they are game changers.

Essentialism focuses on the concept of Less but Better and how getting to the essentials improves every aspect of living our lives. The ONE Thing is even more specific and urges us to get it down to ONE thing. Not only one thing necessarily but one thing as a focus of our work and energy at a time or as our priority. Gary Keller, co-founder of Keller Williams, uses the visual of a domino and when we get our first domino in place, and if we've done it right, it will begin to knock over those that follow. His focusing question:

the ONE Thing 
I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?
And if I didn't already love the message how excited did I get when I saw this diagram on pg. 114?

It fits perfectly into ME Mapping's concept and makes your ONE Thing even that much more powerful when visually diagrammed out.

The other key concept that I had already been experimenting with is time-blocking my day. Once we are focused on our ONE Thing we prioritize our day differently but we still need some strategic maneuvering and time chunking; blocking our schedule makes it so much more productive.

I will expand on this concept at another time but it is more direct than just the Franklin Covey Planner's idea that I was committed to for years. Coincidentally I came across the Timeful app while reading this book. So now I have integrated my calendar, to-do list, habit building (which includes my ONE Thing time-block) all into my iPhone. It keeps me on track and with the elimination of the non-essential to clear my mind/day and the focus of the ONE Thing I've been more productive, focused, and happy lately and loving how they all work together.

Now some folks might think the idea is too simple or have already mastered not letting multitasking and external factors distract them, and if that's the case skip it. I know one of the things I've done and I see many others do too is to keep piling systems, technology, stuff into our lives... but until we get down to the essentials and our ONE Thing we'll still keep overwhelming ourselves.

I can't recommend these two books enough but if you can only fit in one make it this one. Then work hard on your ONE Thing so you can go back and read the other. And when it's time and you want to thank the one person who recommended them you can reach ME here ;)