Get control of your time

time quote

Someone much wiser than me said: Three things you cannot recover in life: the moment after it’s missed, the word after it’s said, and the time after it’s wasted.

We’re all busy and have crazy schedules. We have people pulling us in all directions. We have family and careers and pets and friends. Yet there are things we can do to help make more time for the things we want to pursue.

First, write down your goals and priorities and keep them visible. You need weekly, quarterly and yearly goals. Review and revise them often. Make sure you prioritize them. Are you truly committed to reaching the goal you wrote down? If not, you may need to mark it off the list right now or move it way down the list. Before you add anything else to your schedule, you need to determine if that will move you closer to one of your goals.

Once you set your goals, it’s time to take charge.

Set aside each day to plan. I do this in the evening before I go to bed. That way I have a good idea of what tomorrow will hold and what I need to get done. Some people like to get up and do it first thing in the morning. I make a daily “to do” list. It has work and personal items on it. I love the feeling of crossing things off my list. (Yes, I’ve even been known to add small things to it that I know I’ll accomplish easily and quickly, just to feel the satisfaction of crossing it off!)

Schedule your day. Block off the chunks of time you need to be able to get things done. Do you have a big project due? Try breaking it into smaller pieces. Spread the pieces out throughout your day or week. Sometimes looking at the whole project can be daunting, but smaller pieces make it more manageable and less intimidating.

Do you procrastinate? Why? Is it because you don’t like the project at hand? We all have some tasks that are necessary that we just don’t enjoy. However, if you think about the anxiety or pressure or guilt that will come from delaying the inevitable, you can push through. Create a reward system for yourself. If you can cross it off on time or ahead of schedule, treat yourself to a manicure or a walk around the park, or a nice lunch.

If you continually have a problem with time, the best thing you can do is to look for the root cause.

  • Disorganization
  • Lack of a plan
  • Lack of priorities
  • Lack of initiative or motivation
  • Over scheduled
  • Never write anything down
  • Inability to delegate
  • Overcommitted
  • Put off making decisions
  • Doing what you like first, putting off other things
  • Not finishing anything
  • Meetings
  • Unclear about the purpose or expectation
  • Poor filing system
  • Poor communication
  • Others?

Look over your list and pick out the top two things that are holding you back. See if you can come up with a solution. Make a weekly goal to work on it. Then at the end of the week, honestly assess where you stand. Make yourself accountable to you. Once you conquer that problem, go on to another but don’t allow old habits to slip back into play.

The Middle Matters

writing middle

When you first start writing a story, either fiction or non, you’re excited about it. You’ve got all these thoughts and are ready to get it on paper. You’ve got a great idea of where you’re going to end up. But then something happens. You get to the middle of the story and have no idea where to go.

You might have lost the drive to complete the story. You might realize you need more information or need to beef up your storyline or characters. You might have too much information and need to trim it up. Maybe you’ve just lost the reason the story excited you enough to write it initially. Whatever the reason, you’ve got to come up with a way to overcome that hurdle.

The beginning of your story is where everyone meets your characters and gets an idea of where the journey is going to take them. But the middle becomes just a series of events if you aren’t careful. However, it’s really where readers develop the connection to your characters and build that desire to see how the story ends.

So how do you keep pressing forward? Some people go back and rewrite the beginning because they can’t seem to move forward. I think that’s the wrong approach. Instead, look back over your notes. Try and remember what it was that captured your attention and motivated you to write the story in the first place. Think about where it ends up. Sometimes it helps to write the end first. Then you can fill in with all the missing pieces. You know how it started. You know how it ends. It shouldn’t be hard to figure out how they got there.

You can focus on the characters. What made them appealing? What did they look like? What’s their background? What’s their dream? How can you translate all those things into your story to engage your reader and draw them in?

The middle is a great place for a plot twist. Did something go wrong along the way? If the characters had made different choices, would the result still be the same? Were there obstacles they had to overcome? What challenges did they face along the way? Was time working against them? The middle is where the conflict should occur.

If none of that works, shut down the computer and walk away. Put on your headphones. Listen to music. Go for a walk. Listen to your favorite podcast. Sleep on it. Then pull it up tomorrow and look at it with a fresh set of eyes and a rested mind.


What’s your mission?

mission statement

I’m talking about mission statements today. I personally believe you can find value in writing a mission statement not only for your business but for yourself as well. So feel free to adapt the information here and put it to use in both areas of your life.

What is a mission statement?

By definition, it is a formal, written summary of the aims and values of a company, organization or individual. It’s a place to showcase your goals, ethics and company culture. It should define the purpose of your business. It can help set parameters. It highlights what differentiates you from others. It doesn’t change unless your business dramatically changes courses.

What should you include?

You mission should address who is your customer. It should define your product. It helps identify your market. These are all business basics. What you might not think of is the emotional element of your mission. You need to make sure your mission reflects your beliefs, values or philosophies. It can address concerns you have about image. It can also highlight your social or philanthropic responsibilities.

Your mission is a great place to reflect how you want others to perceive your company or organization. It can be the first step in developing customer loyalty. We stay loyal not only because someone has a great product, but also because we buy into their set of values. They create an exceptional experience.

Let’s take a look at how some leading companies have created their mission statements.

Warby Parker: Warby Parker was founded with a rebellious spirit and a lofty objective: to offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially-conscious businesses.

Look at the word choices. You know what they do and the spirit they do it with.

IKEA: Our vision is to create a better everyday life for the many people.

They achieve this by providing home furnishings at a price point many people can afford.

Nordstrom: In store or online, wherever new opportunities arise, Nordstrom works relentlessly to give customers the most compelling shopping experience possible.

This mission emphasizes the desire to create that exceptional experience people crave.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Company: To discover, develop and deliver innovative medicines that help patients prevail over serious diseases.

They emphasize the why – to help patients conquer disease.

CVS Corporation: We will be the easiest pharmacy retailer for customers to use.

Makes you want to refill your prescription there, doesn’t it?

Dollar General: Serving Others. For customers, a better life. For shareholders, a superior return. For employees, respect and opportunity.

This one hits on all the key players: customers, shareholders and employees.

Duke Energy: Our purpose is to create superior value for our customers, employees, communities and investors through the production, conversion, delivery and sales of energy and energy services.

No doubt Duke is in the energy business but they haven’t lost focus on who and what keeps them in business.

So you’ve had a chance to read a few mission statements. Are you ready to try writing yours?

Here’s a list of questions to get you started.

  1. What business are you in? Is there a special product or service you offer?
  2. Why do you exist? Can everyone do what you do? Do you do it in a different way? Do you have a passion for your business?
  3. What makes your business different from someone else’s?
  4. What are your concerns? Are there threats or challenges lurking soon?
  5. Do you need to address investors or stockholders?
  6. What concerns do you have about image, innovation, quality or other intangible traits?
  7. Do you have customers with special concerns?
  8. Are you looking to attract a certain type of employee?

Once you’ve identified the areas you want to address, you can make a mission statement that truly reflects the unique qualities of your business.

Want some feedback? Put your mission in the comment section below and I’ll give you my thoughts.