“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.”

-William Penn


My team ran a survey recently and asked what topics people would like me to cover in my blogs. A big favorite turned out to be “how to get things done.” I’ve often had students approach me and ask, “How the heck do you do all you do and still have a life?!?”

Over the years, I’ve picked up all kinds of time management tricks. But what really keeps me on track to achieve what I’ve achieved are some basic principles. These principles are not complicated. You might look at them and say, “Oh, I already know that.” The important question is, “Are you applying them to your life?” because it’s in the application that you’ll feel their power to help you accomplish what you’d like to accomplish.

Start with your purpose.

As Stephen Covey puts it, “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” And the key to knowing your priorities is to know your purpose.

People get tangled up trying to figure out their purpose. Your purpose will actually evolve as you evolve. It may never be something other people understand or appreciate, but it must be something that resonates with you and inspires you.

From where you sit today, you may only sense a piece of it—but that piece is enough to get you moving. For example, when I was younger, I realized that I wanted to understand how business works. I didn’t know that I’d end up running an international training company. I just knew that learning business was important to me. So I set out to fulfill on that purpose.

Be the master of your calendar.

Carl Sandburg wrote, “Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.” You must consciously choose how to design your days and hours.

When you have some sense of your purpose, look at your activities and see which support your purpose. These are your priorities and should have a prominent place in your calendar. Each item that goes into your schedule should be a conscious choice, not a knee jerk reaction.

Not sure about an activity? Rather than saying “I don’t have time for this task,” try saying, “It’s not my priority” and feel it through. In my case, I know I could find time to watch Dancing with the Stars but it’s more honest to say “Watching that show is not my priority.” However, when I hear myself saying “I don’t have time to go to the doctor” and try to switch it to “Checking out my health is not my priority,” it becomes more obvious that I’m off-track!

Don’t do. Accomplish.

Busy-ness is way over-rated! John Wooden reminds us to “Never mistake activity for achievement.”

Keep your focus on the results you’re working to create, not just the doing all the tasks in front of you. By keeping your eye on results, you’ll know if your actions are really getting you where you want to go. You’ll be able to make mid-course corrections and act more effectively. As Coco Chanel warned, “Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.”

Focusing on your desired result has the added benefit of giving you the impetus to drive through obstacles. Henry Ford claimed that, “Most people spend more time and energy going around problems than in trying to solve them.” But when your purpose and your desired results are clear, challenges become mere bumps in the road.

Stay pono.

Pono is a Hawaiian word that means to be right with the world, comfortable in your own skin, aligned with who you really are. Pono means to be healthy in all areas: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.  This health gives you the energy and creativity to accomplish more than you thought possible. Saint Francis wrote that, “Half an hour’s meditation each day is essential, except when you are busy. Then a full hour is needed.”

Years ago, I ignored my physical body in pursuit of my goals. I still did a lot by most people’s standards at that time—completing my PhD, writing a few books, running dozens of trainings every year. But after every intense weekend seminar, I had to crash for days just to recuperate. My body simply gave out. Now that I’ve made exercise and health a part of my daily routine, I have much more energy to accomplish what I want to accomplish.

One last thought:

“It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?”

-Henry David Thoreau


To your great accomplishments!


Dr. Matt