Preview Thursday: LeaderSHOP

We are pleased to present this excerpt from LeaderSHOP by Rodger Dean Duncan.

Effective Life Management

Let’s face it. No matter who we are or what our station in life may be, none of us has more than 24 hours a day, 168 hours per week. For most of us, it doesn’t seem to be enough.

So the challenge is this: How can we make the best use of that precious and finite resource called time?

It’s possible, if not probable, that the simplest solutions make the most sense. That’s why I like Brian Tracy’s book Master Your Time, Master Your Life. Tracy offers workable approaches to investing in simple time management behaviors that pay rich dividends.

Rodger Dean Duncan: You suggest that most people live in a reactive-responsive mode. How does effective time management help produce better choices and decisions?

Brian Tracy: Most people live in a “reactive-responsive mode” in that they are thrown off by almost every stimulus in their environment, plus whatever pops into their mind at the moment, whether they are working, checking their email or conversing with someone. This is inevitable, unavoidable, and getting continuously worse in our fast-moving world.

Effective time management enables you to impose a sense of control over yourself and your work. By writing down, planning and setting priorities for your day, you can discipline yourself to put a moment of thought between the distraction and the natural impulse to react. You enable yourself to call a brief moment, a “time out,” during which you can think with greater clarity about what is more important and what is less important.

Rodger Dean Duncan: What role do clear, written goals play in effective life management?

Brian Tracy: Clear written goals and plans are more responsible for long-term success than perhaps any other factor. Here’s a simple way to change your life: Make a list of ten goals you would like to achieve in the next 12 months, exactly as if you had no limitations.

Then ask yourself, “Which one goal on this list, if I achieved it, would have the greatest positive impact on my life?” Whatever your answer, let this goal become the driving force of your life. Make a list of everything you could do to achieve this goal. Then, resolve to do something that moves you toward this goal every day, seven days a week.

Rodger Dean Duncan: Many people understand the value of “to do” lists. But you add a fresh wrinkle with what you call the Law of Three. What is that and how does it enhance a person’s productivity?

Brian Tracy: The “Law of Three” is a principle I discovered in working with thousands of business people, entrepreneurs and sales professionals over the years. The way it works is this: If you make a list of everything you do in a week or a month, it will usually contain 20-30 tasks or activities, sometimes more.

But when you analyze your list, you will find that only three of those tasks are responsible for 90% of the value of your contribution to your company, your work, and your personal income.

How do you determine what those three tasks are? Simple. You ask the three “magic questions. Question #1 is: “If I could do only one thing, all day long, which one task would make the greatest contribution to my company?”

Circle that task on your list. It’s usually quite clear. (By the way, if you don’t know the answer to this question, you had better find out, and fast. You are in great danger of wasting your time, all day long).

Then ask the question two more times: “If you could do only two things, or three things, all day long, which would make the most valuable contribution?”

From this day forward, focus on those three tasks all day long, and dedicate yourself to continuous improvement in each one. This can change your life and make you one of the most valuable people in your organization.

Rodger Dean Duncan is the award-winning, bestselling author of CHANGE-friendly LEADERSHIP and a regular contributor to Forbes and other publications. His work has been featured in The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, Fast Company, Inc., and many other national and international media outlets. He was advisor to cabinet officers in two White House administrations and headed global communication for Campbell Soup Company. He’s been leadership coach to senior officers in more than 100 companies in multiple industries. Duncan earned his PhD in communication and organizational behavior at Purdue University. Legendary personal success coach Stephen R. Covey called Duncan’s work in leadership “brilliantly insightful and inspiring; profound, yet user-friendly; visionary, yet highly practical.”
Learn more: Duncan Worldwide
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