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?
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! Mentoringforfree.com, Inc. http://lianebisaillon.successin10steps.com/ . 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