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20 July 2010

Driving Your Time Management

I need major improvement to my time management. It seems that most days fill with frantic, stressed-out busy-ness, but still run together without any meaningful milestones to prove they were lived.

I read two very helpful books that showed me how my problem is not just a lack of time management. It is a lack of life management.

How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life, by Alan Lakein, stresses the following flow when planning your day or week:

Lakein’s book pays for itself in the useful exercises he includes for identifying your goals and using them to govern your daily life.

The 10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management: Proven Strategies for Increased Productivity and Inner Peace, by Hyrum Smith, starts with another dimension: the values that govern -- or should govern -- your life.

Smith, a time-life management guru, designed the Franklin Planner, the popular daily planning notebook sold by the FranklinCovey company, that helps users put all this to work in their daily lives.

Smith explains a second process to assist in correcting ourselves when things don’t work out. The one thing not obvious in the diagram is that we use our beliefs to screen our needs. For example, the need to acquire things must pass through a "belief window" that imposes restrictions against stealing, but does not inhibit working to acquire money with which to buy things.

Smith’s second flow addresses a more human side of managing our lives. Smith believes that results should reinforce or modify what we perceive as our needs, but I believe that needs do not change, while beliefs are informed by new information.

Because the two views parallel each other so closely, I combine and simplify them as shown:

Up to this point, I would be doing great if I had a procedure-driven personality. Needs still doesn’t connect. I need more. My third major lesson, surprisingly, came in a free e-book distributed by an Internet marketer, Michael Dlouhy and his downline disciples.

The next few paragraphs use Dlouhy’s material liberally, so I owe him a plug. The ebook is Success In 10 Steps: Home Business Warning: Don’t Get Toasted Like a Pop-Tart! You can download the whole file here:

Lakein and Smith address the logical side of time-life management. Dlouhy views needs from a different angle and identifies the missing factor: Motivation. Dlouhy asks,

What is your big why?

"Why are you on this planet? What were you meant to do?" Answering this will give you “the big, big, big reason that will keep you going.”

  • "What do you love?" "What gets you really excited?"
  • "What do you hate?" "What scares you to death?" "What makes you angry about your life?" What are your greatest regrets?
  • What threatens you? What problems could you solve if you won the lottery? What problem do you want to resolve "so it never, ever happens again?" What change in yourself would repair your relationships?
  • What do you want to do for others? How have you failed the people you love? "What would you like to give the people you love most?" What would helping others improve their lives mean to you?
  • "What is really important to you?" "How many hours a week do you work?" "How do you spend your free time?" How would you spend your time if you could retire? "What makes you feel good about yourself?" "What do you want for your own personal growth?" What do you want to accomplish in your life?
Dlouhy says that if “your why is a 70% and you come up against an obstacle that's a 72%, you're gone.” You will achieve the mediocrity of a torturous career, you will quit in failure, or, worse, your employer will terminate your employment due to your failures. When you find the right why, however, and your why is a 99.9%, it will empower you to overcome any obstacles.

Your big why, according to Dlouhy, “is never money. It's about who you really are. Your driving factor must be way more than money.”

I don’t know whether that’s true. Some people seem completely motivated by the lust for pleasure, the lust for possessions, or the lusts for power, pride, or popularity. Evil exists. It controls, to some degree, in all our lives; and in some, it controls completely. When divorced from values, the unintended consequences of fulfilling our motives ultimately produce suffering and bitter, never-satisfied, unfulfilled lives.

Many let their motives drive – or destroy – their values.

We can minimize misery – for ourselves and for others – by measuring our motives against values, a system of morality or ethics. A good values system stems from the teachings of a higher power or at least from a defined set of empathetic ethics.

We need this check because values should be left-brained, objective, and deductive. Motives, on the other hand, are right-brained and inductive, and can be visceral, desire-driven. Values lie in the intellect, but motives live in the heart.

Values do not change with circumstances, although sometimes we must balance one value against another. Motivation grows, deteriorates, or matures. Motives can reflect values that we have not balanced against each other. For example, ambition and drive are good, but we limit them out of consideration for others.

As our goal, we will use our values to prioritize our goals, activities, and daily tasks, but we will use our motives to drive their execution.

Determine what drives you and temper it with solid values. Harness your big why. Plan your life and your time accordingly, and your inner fire will drive you to plan meaning into your days.


1. Dlouhy, Michael. Success In 10 Steps: Home Business Warning: Don’t Get Toasted Like a Pop-Tart!, Inc. . Downloaded 14 July 2010.

2. Lakein, Alan. How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life. Signet, New York. 1974.

3. Smith, Hyrum W. The 10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management: Proven Strategies for Increased Productivity and Inner Peace. Warner Books, New York, NY. 1994.

Copyright 2010, Richard M. Wheeler

16 July 2010

"Result With" or "Result In"?

Right or Wrong?- the word WITH vs the word IN when writing "reduced errors by 60% resulting IN saving over $70M" Does anyone know if WITH is gramatically wrong? Please provide evidence.
Great question, and wise to insist on evidence. I have had many similar discussions. It took years to get my daughter to say something happened "by accident" instead of "on accident." The answer is that this resulted in a non-productively spent afternoon.

The issue does not concern grammar, so with is not wrong grammatically. Result is intransitive -- it takes no object, but it can be followed by a prepositional phrase. The issue concerns usage; with is incorrect diction.

In general, you can find the evidence in many dictionaries (see that identify or give examples of appropriate usage.

Result speaks of a cause-and-effect relationship. With implies togetherness, colocation (can somebody think of a better word? Con-resultantcy?) in the cause-and-effect chain. Resulting with, therefore, implies that the action and the result occur together -- a logical impossibility.

In simply implies place or condition. Result speaks of an action that has beginning and ending conditions. The thing affected, therefore starts in one condition and the action causes something to be in a new condition.

An alternate construction deals with the case where the result is the subject of the sentence. In this case, the end condition results, and you could stop there. However, you might wish to add more detail. For example, a 60% reduction of errors resulted, with the corporation saving over $70 M.

One more case: reduced errors by 60%, [note the comma missing from your example] resulting in saving over $70M. This leaves saving isolated in a sensory deprivation chamber of ambiguity. Who saved $70M? The employee? (I'd like to have HER salary! On second thought, I'd like to have ANY salary.)

Better: resulting in the project saving over $70M.

Better-er: resulting in over $70M savings.

Best: Leave out resulting -- reduced errors by 60%, saving the project over $70M.

More bester-est: Replace the negative saving with positive profits -- reduced errors by 60%, increasing profits over $70M.

08 July 2010

Interviews: Gaps in Your Knowledge

Sometimes interviewers want to know whether you meet minimum requirements, but sometimes they just want to know what bonus skills you might have that would give them greater flexibility or that might interest another hiring manager. Lavie Margolin addresses the best response when a hiring manager asks a question about an area in which you lack knowledge.

Margolin advises saving your time and theirs by answering plainly that you don't have that answer but have a plan to learn about that area. That's OK as far as it goes, but you need a bit more.

Use discernment about how hard to sell yourself. Are they asking you about required, desired, or non-advertised skills? Time pressure might force them to choose between candidates who meet 80% of the requirements, so your can-do answer may give you the edge.

A better answer...
  • admits that you don't have that knowledge
  • shows that you are interested in the topic
  • relates how you previously delivered value in a new area.
My first two bullets match Margolins' answer, although I generalize the point about interest. Having a plan is only one possible way to demonstrate interest. You might demonstrate interest by asking a question about the topic or by stating that you have studied it but not developed experience in it. My third point drives home your credibility with respect to the second point. It turns a dry, hypothetical answer into a concrete narrative.

For example,

"I haven't worked in [topic], but I enjoy reading about [related issues] and would LOVE to get my hands dirty in it. One time, my director needed someone to deal with [relevant topic], which none of the departments covered. My supervisor asked me if I could help, so I hit the internet and the library that night, and came back with a tutorial the next day that the director liked so much, he expanded our department's charter; and naturally, my boss put me in charge of it. I know you'll be pleased with how I can help you."

Obviously, you can't give long-winded answers like this if they ask about multiple knowledge areas you don't have.