5 Steps to Mastering Your Time
This is an excerpt from Chapter 2 of my most recent Amazon best-selling book "Thriving In Chaos: How to Manifest Your Greatness and Do More While Working Less", where I introduce the 5 Key Steps to Mastering Your Time:
"In the last chapter we talked about moving from an idea of managing Chaos and ordering Chaos to an idea of Thriving in Chaos. This idea comes from my training in the military as a Marine Corps Officer. During our training, the first publication they had us read was a book called Warfighting and, in that book, the authors described the fact that war is Chaos. There is always imperfect information. There are always constantly changing circumstances. There are always interruptions.
No plan survives first contact and you're constantly having to make decisions that are going to eventually have potentially dire consequences. And what the book says is that it's important for us to understand that war is Chaos so that we realize that we must not try to manage the Chaos. Instead, we must learn that those who will succeed in war will be those who learn to Thrive in the Chaos. Those who learn to make sure they are comfortable in the worst-case scenarios will be successful because, as my mentors Ryron and Rener Gracie say, “When we can be calm and comfortable in worst-case scenarios, then there are no worst-case scenarios.”
Now, I want you to know that the reason that I am qualified to write this book is not because of the information that I have learned and processed. You should not listen to me because I have been a teacher, or a lawyer, or a Marine Corps Officer, or a serial entrepreneur. The reason the rest of this book will help you to change your life is not because of my credentials. The reason you should pay attention to what I have put together in this book is because I understand where you are because I lived it.
You see, I was that person who had all of my training and all of my education and still struggled to apply it to my life. And that is the reason why you should continue reading. Like I said earlier, I know you have been exposed to much of the same information I was. But I also know what it feels like to have all of that information and to still feel stuck. That was my life as I began my tour as a Company Commander in the United States Marine Corps. When I was entrusted with command, I “should” have known this stuff and been able to apply it, but I still wound up working 10-12 hours a day and being miserable.
Why “should” I have known? Well, just like you, I had already been successful. I knew how to get things done. I had already shown that I could be productive and accomplish a lot. I had earned my Master’s Degree in Teaching and been a teacher for 6 years before I took command. I had gone to a top 30 law school and graduated with honors, before I took command. I had been the Dean’s Fellow and admitted to the Illinois State Bar, before I took command. I had gone through nearly 1 year of Marine Officer training, before I took command. I had become one of the winningest Defense Counsels in the history of my unit, before I took command. If there was anyone who “should” have known how to maximize their time and apply these skills it was me. But I was still failing.
And that is because it is more than just about information. It’s about knowing how to apply this information to the obstacles you have in front of you. This book is definitely going to give you some new information. But more importantly, this book is going to address the elephant in the room, why do you struggle to implement the knowledge you already have and how can you overcome those obstacles and apply your knowledge.
It was when I learned to see and overcome my obstacles that I began to truly become a master of my time. That is when I began to accomplish things I never thought I could. That is what allowed me to constantly achieve my goals and all the while have people ask me questions like, “when do you sleep?” And when I would respond to them letting them know that I slept on average 6-8 hours per night, they are always amazed. It’s as if they just can’t seem to understand how I could get so much done in the same time they have. And that is the power of Time Mastery!
And so, it will be important to move from the idea of Time Management (which is really a way to manage other people's priorities) to Time Mastery which is the way you will maximize your time to accomplish all of your goals and become the master of your destiny. Time mastery is the way that you take control of your day and ensure everything you do in your day is leading you down the path to living the life you were born to live. There are five steps to mastering your time that we're going to talk about in the course of this book and those five steps are:
- Defining Success
- Setting Priorities and Aligning Goals
- Scheduling Priorities and Setting Boundaries
- Handling Interruptions aka Enforcing Boundaries
- Sustaining the Transformation
Step 1: Defining Success
Defining success is the foundation of Time Mastery. One of the things you have to understand with defining success is that until you know where you're going, until you know what you want, it's impossible to make the decisions you need to make in order to accomplish your goals. In the Marine Corps, every order starts with the mission objective and then includes the Commander’s Intent. This gives those hearing the order the What of the mission and the Why. From that place, from that perspective, from knowing the mission objective, and the desired endstate (which is the desired result of the Commander after the objective is accomplished), from there you can create all of the planning that needs to take place. But without the Mission Objective, the Commander's Intent, and the Endstate, it is impossible to accomplish the mission. And so step one is to Define Success. We will go into more depth in the Define Success Chapter.
Step 2 and Step 3: Set Priorities, Align Goals, and Schedule Priorities (Set Boundaries)
Step 2 and Step 3 are part of the system you will use to accomplish your goals on a yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily basis. Step Two is to set and align your priorities and goals. Step Three is to schedule those priorities and set time boundaries around them to ensure that they happen. Throughout this book, you're going to learn a system for doing this and making it so that this becomes routine, easy, and automatic.
Step 4: Handling Interruptions
The next step, Step 4, is the step we call Handling Interruptions AKA Enforcing Boundaries. This is the glue that holds the system together. We talked about how in my Marine Corps training I learned the concept of an ever-changing battlespace being the only constant. Similarly, when you're living your life, the concept of ever-changing wants, desires, and interruptions is the constant. You have to become a master at handling those interruptions in such a way that your plan and your objective can still be accomplished. You have to learn how to say no to everything that is not in alignment with your purpose. This is what holds the system together. Like Mike Tyson used to say, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” You have got to be adept at dealing with those times when life is trying to punch you in the mouth and you must have systems in place for dealing with those things so that you can get back onto your game plan.
The Key To Exponential Growth
Step 5: Sustaining the Transformation
The last step in Mastering your Time is Sustaining the Transformation. This deals with the Power of Habit and how making these success actions habits versus just concepts you employ. This is where the transformation happens. This is the stage where you begin to get a lot of the effects we're going to talk about later in the book; the effects like the Laser Effect, the Domino Effect, and the Compounding Effect. These effects kick in as you build your systems into habits and we are going to go in depth about these things as we go forward.
About This Contributor
Your instructions are clear. Your timelines are reasonable. But still, tasks that should take 3-4 days to complete seem to take your team 3-4 weeks. Unless you are personally making it happen, checking on every detail, they just don’t seem able to perform to your needs. Managing a team this way is not sustainable, physically, or financially. At this rate, it’s not a question of “if” you will burnout, but “when.”