Friday Book Review! Master Your Time, Master Your Life by Brian Tracy

Image result for brian tracy master your time master your lifeSuccess guru Brian Tracy’s new book is centered on the concept of time. Although each chapter has the word “time” in it, Master Your Time, Master Your Life is not about time management as much as it is about life goals and on what areas to focus your efforts.

The first chapter, for example, is about “Strategic Planning and Goal Setting Time.” Successful people, Tracy writes, are those who plan their strategy and select their goals. “One of the most important types of time is the time you spend thinking, deciding and planning how to achieve the things you really want in life.”

Tracy recommends establishing a personal strategic plan based on four questions:

  • Where am I now in my life? Review your accomplishments, family situation, financial situation, and health and fitness.
  • How did I get to where I am today? Identify the choices and decisions that led to where you are today. Recognize the sources of your successes — and setbacks.
  • Where do I want to go in the future? Imagine a perfect life five years in the future. Get into the details of how it would be different from the present.
  • How can I get from where I am to where I want to be? Identify what you need to be doing today to make that ideal future become a reality.

Some of the chapters, such as “Productive Time” and “Work Time,” involve more conventional time management suggestions.

In the “Work Time” chapter, Tracy dives into how to overcome the “seven major time wasters” at work (telephone, email and text interruptions; unexpected visitors; meetings; fire fighting; procrastination; socializing and idle conversations; and indecision and delay).

In the “Productive Time” chapter, Tracy highlights the three keys to productivity:

  • Clarity. Tracy’s focus here is on a clear understanding of expected results — the production part of productivity. Exactly what will make people see you as dependable and valuable?
  • Focus. Productivity depends on a single-minded focus on the task at hand. Multitasking productivity, writes Tracy, is a myth.
  • Concentration. Being able to concentrate for extended periods of time is a difficult but vital skill, he writes.

To read this review in full, click here. Don’t forget to sign up for our FREE Executive Book Alert newsletter to receive reviews just like this one every month right to your inbox!

 

Join Us for a Webinar on 5/24: How to Manage Your Time and Accomplish Goals

How to Manage Your Time and Accomplish Goals
Date: Tuesday, May 24th
Time: 12:00 PM ET
Speaker: Chris Bailey

Register Today!

Productivity affects all of us; whether it be at home or in the office, there always seems to be a struggle to make time for all of life’s essential tasks.

In this Soundview Live webinar, How to Manage Your Time and Accomplish Goals, Chris Bailey takes us on his year-long journey to productivity. Through self-experimentation, Bailey offers counterintuitive insights on how to better-manage your time, attention and energy in order to accomplish more and not lose sight of the more meaningful things in life.

What You’ll Learn:

  • how to slow down to work more deliberately
  • how to shrink the unimportant and strive for imperfection
  • how to schedule less time for important tasks
  • the 20 second rule to distract yourself from the inevitable distractions
  • the concept of productive procrastination

Balancing the Inverse Equation of Increasing Demands + Shrinking Resources

TOO LITTLE RESOURCES FOR TOO MANY DEMANDS

What consultant Jesse Sostrin calls “the manager’s dilemma” is easily explained and all too familiar to any manager: too much demand, not enough resources. Specifically, as Sostrin writes in his new book, The Manager’s Dilemma: Balancing the Inverse Equation of Increasing Demands and Shrinking Resources, “There is not — and never will be — enough time, energy, resources or focus to meet the demand.” As a result, managers and businesses are often toggling between a “performance zone,” where resources meet demands, and a “danger zone,” when resources and demands are out of balance, and one, Sostrin writes, becomes “defensive, disorganized, disrupted, disoriented and disengaged.” (Sostrin uses the evocative acronym TERF for time, energy, resources and focus.)

Before addressing the dilemma, you have to know that it exists, Sostrin writes. Many managers are unaware that they are in the dilemma. They say things such as, “With so many deadlines and demands, some priorities will have to be sacrificed,” or “It’s too crazy now; I’ll focus better once things settle down.”

Contradictory statements such as these — not addressing priorities only means that the deadlines and demands will continue, for example — are red flags that indicate the manager is entangled in the manager’s dilemma and doesn’t know it, writes Sostrin. “The first and best response to the manager’s dilemma,” he explains, “is to accept the situation for what it is and to focus all of your available TERF in a concentrated effort to balance the equation.”

Principles to Guide Managers

Balancing the equation is the first of the two big phases that managers must achieve to effectively emerge from the manager’s dilemma. Sostrin offers four principles, explored in detail in the book, that will guide managers in balancing the equation.

The first principle is to follow the contradiction. Contradictions, explains Sostrin, are subtle clues that tell the alert manager something is wrong. Rushing your work because you have no time to slow down, only to spend more time fixing the mistakes in the rushed work is a typical contradiction reflecting the manager’s dilemma.

Once alerted, the other three principles help you move out of the danger zone: Determine your line of sight; in other words, focus on the right priorities. Distinguish your contributions; that is, know your strongest value-added capabilities, and use those capabilities over others. And plug the leaks, i.e., the ongoing experiences that reduce performance by draining your TERF.

These four principles, writes Sostrin, “rebalance the inverse equation of shrinking resources and increasing demands” — but he believes managers can do better. In a section called “Flip the Scales,” Sostrin introduces an additional four principles that, he writes, will “render the dilemma’s effects irrelevant.”

The first principle is to create the conditions you need to achieve more value. A sample of such conditions, according to Sostrin, includes flexibility, openness to diverse ideas or a willingness to innovate even if it requires letting go of the past.

The second principle is to find the pocket of influence. The issue is timing — learning the optimal time to take the bold action required. Sostrin’s third principle is to convert your challenges to fuel — in other words, turn setbacks into opportunities for learning and performance. A tool called the navigation map makes this possible. Finally, Sostrin urges you to make your goals their priorities. This last principle entails building a mutual agenda with your team.

Scenarios, examples and tools in The Manager’s Dilemma support this solid eight-principle methodology for addressing one of the core barriers to management performance: too little resources for too many demands.

How to Thrive in a World of Too Much

STOPPING THE CYCLE OF OVERLY BUSY

How did they do it before? It’s a question many of us ask, as we stay glued to our laptops or our phone, always present, always working, always trying to be “productive” at all hours of the day. And yet, we can’t keep up. Which leads to that question: How did they (which, for those of us of a certain age, means “we”) do it before?

In his book Busy, business psychologist Tony Crabbe offers a succinct answer: because we are trying to resolve information-age problems with industrial-age solutions. We try to be more productive, we try to “manage time” — when the problem, according to Crabbe, is not that we have too little time to do what we have to do. The problem of the information age is that we give ourselves too much to do.

Busy is not just a burden. It has become a badge of honor. One brags about how busy one is.

Stopping this cycle of being overbusy and never actually catching up — which, despite our bravado, just makes us exhausted and frustrated — begins with understanding what Crabbe calls “the three faces of busy.”

The Three Faces of Busy

Each of the “three faces of busy,” writes Crabbe “refers to a different way in which we relate to busyness.”

The first face sees “busy as an experience.” This is the busyness, he writes, that keeps us harried and overwhelmed, the busyness that makes us feel that we don’t know how to manage our time.

The second face of busy is, according to Crabbe, “busy as a success strategy.” In this case, we believe that success comes by busy more productively, by always striving to do more and more. Unfortunately, this type of busyness leaves us little time to do the “big stuff,” such as taking the time to think creatively.

Finally, the third face of busyness is “busy as an approach to happiness.” This busyness face, writes Crabbe, refers to the goal of having more and more — more stuff, more popularity, more status. Values, relationships and our health are put on hold during a relentless acquisition frenzy.

Three Strategies to Battle Busyness

In his book, Crabbe offers three distinct strategies to battle each of the faces of busyness. The first strategy, aimed at getting beyond busyness as an experience, is a strategy of mastery. The goal is to become masters of our lives, Crabbe writes. It means to stop trying to get everything done through more efficient organization and start, instead, to make tough choices about what to eliminate. Mastery also involves, Crabbe writes, “shifting our focus from managing time to managing attention.”

The second strategy is to differentiate. This strategy is aimed at getting beyond busyness as a success strategy. As noted above, if we only focus on being more productive, we don’t take time to reflect or be creative — the keys to standing out in our overcrowded world. In this section of the book, Crabbe urges his readers to focus on innovation, not productivity of more of the same. He also argues that too many people see busyness as an effective brand, when all it really does is convey your lack of mastery. A truly effective brand is a simple summary of what makes you unique (for example, one of his clients had “no problem!” as his brand, which is the nickname he had been given in his business for his can-do attitude.)

Crabbe’s third strategy, engagement, is designed to overcome busyness as an approach to happiness (the “having more makes me happy!” attitude). The three steps in this strategy are let your values define your meaning of success; develop deeper relationships with fewer people instead of piling up the number of connections; and replace the addiction to shallow buzz (“I’m flying from meeting to meeting.” “I’ve taken up this new hobby.” “I’m a player!”) with the joy of flow — Mihaly Csikszentmihaltyi’s famous term for losing oneself in a task and not realizing the time flying by.

Busy is very clearly organized into the three sections focused on the three strategies. Each of the chapters in each section ends with a summary of the “big messages” of the chapter as well as one- to three-paragraph “go-do” and “experiment” sections. Perhaps some readers addicted to buzz and productivity might be tempted to focus on these end-of-chapter summaries. If so, they will have missed the point of this innovative and important book.

Science-Based Strategies to Harness Your Best Time and Get Your Most Important Work Done

PRODUCTIVITY STRATEGIES DESIGNED FOR HUMANSIt seems that every day is the same for most of us: too much to do, too little time to do it. In this hyper-busy, 24/7 world, author Josh Davis’ contention that we can regain control of our lives by being highly productive for two hours a day seems almost silly. Yet in his book, Two Awesome Hours, Davis makes a compelling case that we can get most of the important work done in a total of two hours — or a similarly overall short amount of time (two hours, he explains, is not a magic number but representative of the small amount of highly productive period for which we should aim).Not a MicroprocessorThe secret is to change the mindset of most productivity efforts, which is built on the concept of trying to be efficient for the entire day. The fact — as proven by science — is that machines and computers can be efficient for eight or 10 hours a day, but humans cannot. The brain is not a biological version of a computer microprocessor. You can’t just turn it on and off. It needs to rest. It becomes distracted — and that’s okay.

In short, Davis writes, we need to stop trying to emulate the productivity of machines and instead work with our continually expanding knowledge of how the brain works.

Five Strategies

Based on the science of the brain, Davis has developed five productivity strategies that are designed for humans and not machines.

Strategy 1. Recognize Your Decision Points. It may seem that the moments between tasks are unimportant and, in fact, unproductive. After all, you are not working. As a result, most people rush through what Davis calls “decision points,” those moments in the day when you are deciding what to do next. In their quest to be “productive,” however, people don’t give enough thought to what they should be doing next. They grab the first task they see and end up spending an enormous amount of time on a task that is of secondary importance. “There’s a time and place for the less important work, but leveraging your decision points will help you keep attuned to your larger priorities,” Davis writes.

Strategy 2. Manage Your Mental Energy. Not all hours are the same. This is a major difference with machines, which will work the same no matter when they are operating or for how long. A brain will become tired, and different tasks have more or less impact on brain fatigue. Davis urges his readers to learn when their mental energy is at its peak; this is the time to focus on the most difficult of tasks. And they should be careful not to drain their energy just before that energy is most needed.

Strategy 3. Stop Fighting Distractions. As with decision points, distractions are often seen as the enemy of productivity. In truth, they can be opportunities for regeneration and refocusing. That doesn’t mean reading the sports pages or cyberloafing on social media sites at will, Davis explains. However, daydreaming for a few minutes while looking out the window can send you back to the task refreshed and newly focused.

Strategy 4. Leverage Your Mind-Body Connection. There is a tendency, Davis writes, to separate the mental from the physical. In truth, mind and body are connected, and this offers opportunities to help (or hurt) your mental capacity by how you treat your body. How, when and what you eat or drink, for example, can make a big difference in your mental capacity. Use the mind-body connection to your advantage, Davis urges.

Strategy 5. Make Your Workspace Work For You. The right physical environment will also play a major role in your productivity. “You often can’t change the place where you work, but there are lots of little things you can do to ensure that your workspace is helping, not hindering your productivity,” he writes.

These five deceptively simple strategies, Davis writes, “are effective not only because they are simple and easy to start implementing but also because they work with, not against, your biology.”

In this quick and engaging read, Davis makes a compelling case that the secret for creating the conditions “for at least two hours of incredible productivity every day” is to forget efficiency and draw on the lessons from the latest research in psychology and neuroscience — two disciplines that have nothing to do with machines.

The Path to Extraordinary Productivity

the5choices2

Every day brings us a crushing wave of demands: a barrage of texts, emails, interruptions, meetings, phone calls, tweets, blogs––not to mention the high-pressure challenges of our jobs––that can be overwhelming and exhausting. The sheer number of distractions can threaten our ability to think clearly, make good decisions, and accomplish what matters most, leaving us worn out and unfulfilled.

Now, FranklinCovey offers powerful insights drawn from the latest neuroscience and decades of experience and research in the time-management field, to help you master your attention and energy management through five fundamental choices that will increase your ability to achieve what matters most to you. The 5 Choices is time management redefined for the 21st century: it increases the productivity of individuals, teams, and organizations and empowers you to make more selective, high-impact choices about where to invest your valuable time,attention, and energy.

The 5 Choices will not only increase your productivity, it will also provide a renewed sense of engagement and accomplishment. You will quickly find yourself moving beyond thinking, “I was so busy today; what did I achieve?” to feeling confident, energized, and extraordinarily productive.

IN THIS SUMMARY, YOU WILL LEARN:

• New ideas on how to be more productive.

• How to get clear and focused on the things that matter to you.

• How to increase your capability in decision management.

• To recognize that you have the ability to do extraordinary work.

 

Work Less, Worry Less, Succeed More, Enjoy More

Classic Book Review: Living the 80/20 Way

In Richard Koch’s previous book, The 80/20 Principle, he explained with numerous examples how 80 percent of results come from just 20 percent of causes or effort. For example, 80 percent of sales usually come from less than 20 percent of customers, fewer than 20 percent of drivers cause more than 80 percent of traffic accidents, and so on. In his latest book, Living the 80/20 Way, Koch examines the fundamentals of personal success and shows readers how they can apply his “less is more” and “more with less” ideas to their best 20 percent for better success with money, work, relationships and the good life.

Living the 80/20 Way does more than show readers how to do things differently: It also shows them how to “do less in total.” Koch explains that if we do more of the things that bring us joy, we can do fewer things in total and still transform our lives. Convinced that anyone can benefit by working less and fulfilling their passions more, Koch writes that rebalancing your life not only creates greater health and happiness, but it can also lead to far greater success.

Koch starts his book by explaining how the way most of us organize our personal and social lives is a mistake; we should live to work instead of working to live. His point is that if we have more self-confidence and the right philosophy, we can accomplish more than we do now, enjoy the work we do more, and spend less time working so we can spend more time with our families and friends. Koch writes that if we apply the 80/20 principle to our lives as individuals, “we could enjoy life much more, work less, and achieve more.”

A More Productive Way
According to the 80/20 principle, a small minority of causes leads to a vast majority of results. Koch writes that if we know what results we want, we can look for a more productive way to get those results. He explains that if readers apply the 80/20 principle to the way they organize their private and social lives, they can make more money, gain more status, get a more interesting job and make life more exciting.

Koch writes that getting more with less delivers on two promises:

  1. It is always possible to improve anything in our lives, not by a small amount, but by a large amount.
  2. The way to make the improvement is to ask, “What will give me a much better result for much less energy?”

Although expecting more with less might seem to be unreasonable, Koch writes that this is exactly the reason why improvement is possible. By deliberately cutting back on what we put into a task and yet asking for much more, we force ourselves to think hard and do something different. He explains that this is the root of progress.

Koch writes that the trick to getting more with less is picking activities offering a higher reward for less energy.

Blossoming Sidelines
Throughout Living the 80/20 Way, Koch asks many questions that force the reader to question the way he or she spends time. “Could you spend more time on the things you enjoy, even without quitting your day job? Could a hobby, interest or sideline in your life blossom into a new career?” Koch urges readers to find out by spending more time on the things they enjoy. By trying out new projects while you are still working at your normal job, he writes, you can experiment with different ideas until one clicks.

Time Revolution
Another idea found in Living the 80/20 Way is the dismissal of time management. We should manage those things that we are short of, such as money, he explains, and since we are not short of time, it is inappropriate to try to manage it. Instead of managing our time so that we can speed up, Koch writes that we should look to “time revolution” to slow us down and help us to do fewer things. Instead of writing a “to do list,” we should make a “not to do list.” Act less and think more, he writes. “Stop doing anything that isn’t valuable, that doesn’t make you happy.”

One of the primary points that Koch repeatedly returns to is the idea that the present moment is where we need to live. By confining ourselves to the present moment and enjoying it, he writes, we can be proud of our past and hope for our future. “The 80/20 view of time makes us more relaxed and ‘connected.'” Once we are connected, Koch shows us how we can focus on our best 20 percent and find the personal power, happiness and success that are waiting there to be sparked into life. ~

Why We Like This Book
Living the 80/20 Way
offers readers a shortcut to their personal destinations by presenting the questions that need to be asked along the way and providing a philosophy that can be applied to each step. By emphasizing focus and enjoyment while discussing work and success, Koch presents a road map that can help anyone get farther on his or her personal journey to success in business, life and relationships. Vivid stories about those who have embraced his lessons help to make them more actionable.

The Tyranny of the Urgent

Every day brings us a crushing wave of demands: a barrage of texts, emails, interruptions, meetings, phone calls, tweets, blogs—not to mention the high-pressure demands of our jobs—that can be overwhelming and exhausting. The sheer number of distractions can threaten our ability to think clearly, make good decisions, and accomplish what matters most, leaving us worn out and unfulfilled.

Is it possible that something as simple as making better choices could free us of this stress? The people at FranklinCovey think so. They have developed a set of 5 Choices which will help you sort out the important from the seemingly urgent in your life.

The 5 Choices are:
1. Act on the Important, Don’t React to the Urgent
2. Go for Extraordinary, Don’t Settle for Ordinary
3. Schedule the Big Rocks, Don’t Sort Gravel
4. Rule Your Technology, Don’t Let It Rule You
5. Fuel Your Fire, Don’t Burn Out

The 5 Choices will not only increase your productivity, it will also provide a renewed sense of engagement and accomplishment. You will quickly find yourself moving beyond thinking, “I was so busy today, what did I actually accomplish?” to feeling confident, energized, and extraordinarily productive.

Join the co-author of The 5 Choices and Practice Leader for Productivity at FranklinCovey, Kory Kogon, for our next Soundview Live webinar The Path to Extraordinary Productivity and learn how to integrate the 5 Choices into your life. Start the New Year out right with productivity practices that can really make a difference to your sanity.

Can Technology and Sanity Co-Exist?

It’s amazing how easily we’re affected by the technology around us. Do you become impatient when a website doesn’t load in less than 2 seconds? Do you become frustrated when someone doesn’t respond to your email within a minute? Does any communication that’s more than a sentence long cause you to begin scanning?

It almost makes me long for the days of rotary phones and letters that go through the mail. But of course I’m showing my age because I expect that most of you have never used a rotary phone or written a letter and sent it through the mail!

But then it struck me that the problem isn’t with technology – it’s with us. We can either allow all of our gadgets to run our lives or we can make them work for us to make our lives better. This isn’t a novel thought by any means but it’s still a reminder that I need, and perhaps you need as well.

I ran across an article in the Wall St Journal titled Employees, Measure Yourselves. The article describes a new line of software and apps that have been created to help us measure how we use our work time, collect our creative ideas, track our heart rate for stress factors, and measure a whole host of other areas of our lives. If tracking activity can reveal trends and help us to improve, then this is a good thing.

As I scanned our Soundview archive, I found a few business book summaries that demonstrate this point very well. In The Age of Speed, Vince Poscente makes the case that rather than slowing down to avoid stress and achieve balance, we should take advantage of technology to help us work more quickly and efficiently. Charlene Li, author of Open Leadership, also makes the case for using technology to our advantage to become better leaders by tapping into the power of social media.

As I think about it, the very purpose of Soundview Executive Book Summaries is to leverage technology to help executives make the best use of their time, while keeping up on the latest business thinking. It started with print book summaries mailed to subscribers, then on to audio summaries that could be listened to in the car or on the treadmill, and now we offer eight digital formats for use on any computer, smartphone, e-reader or tablet.

How are you using technology to improve your life? Give it some thought and send along your ideas for others to read through our comments box.