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Two Time Management Tricks that Will Revolutionize the Way You Complete Your Goals

I need to learn to wake board. I should start a side business. I’ve been working on this brick fireplace for three years and can’t finish. I wish I could learn Mandarin. I really have to start exercising soon. 

I don’t have enough time to do the things I want to do. I’m SO busy. There’s so much going on. 

I feel that. People have children to deal with, unexpected life events, ridiculous work schedules, and they need some down time in between too (Harry Potter movie marathon anyone?). 

The key to it all is maintaining a tight schedule... duh. Nothing you haven’t heard before. But I’ve got two little tricks, maybe stuff you’ve heard before but maybe not, that help me stick to keeping a tight schedule on a long-term basis… so I can be working on touring my one-man show, three new book series, consulting work, the beginnings of writing a new one-man show, and some down time in between—all at the same time.

1) Be the Chief and not the Hungry Hunter—Schedule your time at least one week in advance. This is assuming you schedule your time at all, which you should. If you wake up on any given day and map out what you want done, it tends to be an exercise in putting out fires of the immediate and the seemingly urgent—rather than a process in keeping one eye in the moment and one eye on the future. Or, in terms of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, it’s the difference of waking up and eating what you kill that very day, versus planning out how, when, and where you’re going to gather food for the tribe for the next week. In the former you’re the hungry hunter constantly chasing, while in the latter you’re able to be the Chief in planning for higher level activities like building a nice shelter, irrigation for the tribe, and building grain silos.

2) In case of Fire, Break Glass and… Schedule contingency time. Example: I know I need to get X, Y, Z done this week. I loaded up all my work on Monday though Thursday and even scheduled in my down time. While going through the week, I found that I played too hard on Wednesday (totally cool). I worked too long on X and Y on Thursday because I was in the zone. I even had an unexpected doctor visit on Tuesday. 
But in my calendar when I was planning my week, I gave myself a block of time on Friday 2-6pm, as contingency time—time to work on all my leftovers from the week. So, I’m still able to complete most if not all of my tasks for the week. I don’t feel guilty for missing out on certain things throughout the week. And I’m able to work, play, and leave time for unexpected events—making for a well-rounded existence. 

We all have 1440 minutes in the day—might as well put all of them to good use. 

I hope these two little tricks are helpful. 

Harnessing Your Motivator

I love sports—not enough to spend time watching hours of it, but enough to read about it and watch a few championship games.

Some of the greatest athletes in the world have a motivation to be the best in the world at their job—a drive that’s unparalleled. 

But how does a person keep that motor revving at such a high level for extended periods of time? Loving your job isn’t simply enough of a motivator to complete your goals.  

In the movie Rocky, the title character Rocky has a coach named Mick—a curmudgeon of an old man who gets every ounce of effort out of Rocky so he can eventually become a boxing champion (spoiler alert: he doesn’t become a champion until the second film). Mick knows how to push and pull Rocky—the right exercises and drills, what to say and how to say it.

We all have a Mick living inside us, and it’s the greatest athletes who know how to talk to their inner Mick so that he talks back. I call this, “learning to harness your motivator.”

For basketball players Michael Jordan and Larry Bird, they would remember slighted words spoken by an opponent and the next time they saw that opponent, they would compete harder than ever before against that opponent and succeed to unprecedented levels.

For some players their motivation is to help their family out of a desperate financial situation, for others it could be to lift up their entire neighborhood. 

There’s so much to learn from the way these athletes approach their jobs to the way we approach our jobs, lives, and dreams.

It’s not always easy to stay motivated once we set ourselves on a certain path or paths: marriage, friendship, artistic pursuits, completing a long-held goal. But if we can harness our motivator, our inner-Mick; the determination… and achievement becomes manageable and tangible.

There are many reasons to set goals: altruism, fame, fortune, proving a person wrong, honor, and so on.

Harnessing your inner-Mick can be especially helpful if you dislike a certain situation you’re in—a crappy job, a bad friendship, a roadblock in your long-held goal. Asking “why am I doing this, and what’s my motivation,” can help (even in small increments) un-stick you when you’re stuck, provide the necessary mindset to go into a job you dislike while pursuing something you enjoy a little more, and even find the inspiration to stay or leave. 

One caveat to this whole “Inner-Mick” analogy: in the film, Mick was a little verbally abusive to Rocky… you don’t get to do that to yourself. While you’re harnessing your motivation, it’s better to treat yourself kindly and say nice words, which are much more helpful than saying to yourself, “You’re nuttin’ but a bum.” (You had to see the movie to get the reference.) 

Weather: The Great Equalizer

Last week, while walking along the outside of Madison Square Park in Manhattan, a funny little thing happened. It was a hot, sunny day. There were very few clouds, save for the giant one directly above me and the rest of Midtown East/Chelsea… and then it started to rain. Not an incessant rain, nor even a scattered shower. It was like the cloud had to wring off a little bit after a quick dip in the pool. 

Everyone around me looked up in awe, smiled, and went along their day, except one guy who and a confused look on his face and told me, “Dude, it’s raining.” 

I had to stop right there and take a note. Weather is the great equalizer. It affects everyone no matter if you’re rich, poor, child, adult, etc. 

When conversation gets awkward or when folks run out of things to talk about, the default topic is almost always the weather. In some cases when the subject is brought up, there are certain people who will get angry about what the weather is doing, a thing they can’t control, and they’ll let it ruin their day. 

But there’s no escaping the elements. Rather, people bring tools with them to avoid the weather (an umbrella), or build tools to protect them from the weather (a storm shelter). 

Because of the inventions of people who came before us, because of mentors, because of common sense; I—we get to choose how weather affects us. I didn’t  bring an umbrella because I forgot to check the 36 hour forecast, I figure out how to remember to consistently check the forecast so I don’t get drenched on the way to work. The snow is interrupting my outdoor basketball charity benefit, I don’t get mad, we find an indoor court and move the game.

The weather is a great teacher. We are constantly having to adjust to the whim and will of mother nature but forget the things we’ve learned from her when its time to apply those practical lessons to life, business, creativity, etc. The simplest changes yield the biggest results (i.e. pop open that umbrella). Look to the skies and the temperature around you. How did you adjust last time? Is it time to bring out the raincoat, the snow shoes, or is it better to be huddled inside with some people you love? 

I Admit it… I Was Wrong

I made a little boo-boo last week. I had a moment where I was wrong and in the follow-up, I had the opportunity to make a full apology… and I dropped the ball. I did eventually fix it and made it right—but the whole ordeal got a few of the rusty wheels to start turning in the old noggin. I had to write abut this.

First, a quick side note—I almost titled this post, “Admit it… You Were Wrong.” I was going to make it a general post but that seemed a little disingenuous. Apparently admitting you’re wrong isn’t an easy thing to do… :)

If an apology is warranted, there’s often the inclination to go straight to the half-arsed apology—“I’m sorry if I,” rather than “I’m sorry I did.

On the New York City subway, whenever a train is stopped preventing you from getting to your destination on time, there’s nothing more annoying than hearing over the speaker system: “We’re sorry for any inconvenience.” 
They should be sorry for the inconvenience or all inconveniences. 

Take full responsibility if it's warranted. 

In mid-April I was supposed to perform my show at a college in Tennessee. We had already reschedule once because of a calendar snafu. Just to be safe, I flew out to this school 36 hours in advance. Every single flight was delayed or canceled because of mechanical failure—to the point where I had to cancel my appearance at this school at the very last minute, something I’ve never had to do in the three years I’ve toured my show. 

I was angry that the airline let me down. I felt awful that I let the school and the school’s event planner (a very enthusiastic, and now a very disappointed student) down.

First, I didn’t want her to think this was my fault but the airline’s and second, I wanted to see if we could reschedule for the fall of the next school year. I had to broach both of these subjects carefully.

So… I asked her for her mailing address. And I sent her a bouquet of flowers.

With those flowers I said two things, 1) “With this gesture, I want to show that I care about you, 2) “I’m sorry I picked a dumb airline, when all is said and done my absence is my fault.”

The blame game would get me nowhere here. I took responsibility and some extra care, and we eventually did reschedule my appearance at this Tennessee school.

Earlier in this week, while on a lunch break I was watching some South Park. It happened to be an episode that was parodying all of the national dialogue that occurred after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. On the show Stan asks his dad, “Is anyone going to help those people trapped on their roofs in Beaverton?” His dad replies in a serious deadpan, “That’s not important right now. The important thing right now is to figure out whose fault this is.”

Not a direct correlation to an apology, but rather further proof that the blame game gets you nowhere.  

This idea of making a genuine and full-fledged apology is a difficult one, but instead of thinking of it as a chore, it could be seen as a tremendous opportunity to strengthen any kind of relationship—a political base, a friendship, spouse to spouse, business to client, or employer to employee.  

The Best Feeling in the World Is…

Winning after betting on yourself.

One of the most uncomfortable feelings in the world is placing that bet… or even more so, placing that bet after having gambled on yourself and lost. 

In absolutes, it’s difficult to say that taking a risk on yourself is the most uncomfortable feeling (being forced to watch a Honey Boo Boo marathon, anyone?). 

It is a little easier to say that winning after betting on yourself is the best feeling in the world because it encompasses so many moments in life.
  • Asking someone out on a date
  • Quitting your job to start a new business
  • Asking for what you want
  • Becoming an astronaut
  • Reaching out for help
  • Saying “I love you”
  • Saying to any amount of people “I made this for you”
It’s really difficult to place that bet on ourselves—in fact it’s a habit ingrained in most of us to not place bets on ourselves. “You’re not good enough,” “You’re not smart enough,” “You don’t look enough like the people on TV,” is just some of the bile thrown in our faces from a young age. 

As is, you, I, we are simply enough to make and win that bet.

Even when you think you’ve gotten to the point where you’ve learned to tune those negative “not enough” voices out, every once-and-a-while they can make an unwanted appearance. It’s truly an ongoing and an never-ending process to find ways to keep the negative “not enough” voices at bay.

Calculate the odds. Insulate from huge losses. And know that sometimes it’s okay to take an enormous gamble. You could lose a lot… but you could also win big. 

The good news on this kind of betting is that there’s no risk of addiction, ruin, and permanent defeat. The rules, unlike poker or roulette, don’t exist to prevent you from winning. The rules already in place are an opportunity for you to create the game that you want to play.