So many traditional time management tools (calendars, spreadsheets, tasks lists, etc.) often times only succeed at making you more efficient at taming life as you know it. Unfinished tasks, stacks of incomplete reports, overflowing email boxes, and missed appointments prowl around you like lions going in for the kill. Most time management tools (whether you realize it or not) are just a whip and a chair holding the lions at bay, so you don’t get devoured. On an exceptional day your whip and chair might help you control the lions enough so that you can put on a good show and gain a few applause. But lets get real…at the end of the day you are still stuck in a cage hoping you won’t get eaten.
Do you ever feel that way at work? At home? In relationships? Many people do. I know I have. Even with my calendars and to-do lists. Even with my knowledge of how not to procrastination and how to limit interruptions, I have gotten to the end of a work day more than once and felt, “Well, I didn’t get eaten today, but what did I accomplish? What mattered today?”
Hang on to that thought for a moment…What mattered today? What matters to you? What makes a difference? What genuinely feels like an accomplishment to you? What would a day look like where you weren’t in a cage at all? What would those lions ultimately be doing if you could make them do anything you wanted and didn’t have to just make sure they didn’t eat you?
These are creative, imaginative questions that make all of the difference in the world? These are not thoughts on managing what is? These are strategic thoughts? These are thoughts on how to transform your situation. These are the thoughts that are truly going to get you out of a place of just reacting to the lions.
Unfortunately, many of us get trapped because first off, we are so very busy just managing the lions that WE DON’T TAKE TIME TO THINK about how to change the situation. We don’t take time to ask the really important questions that I listed above.
Second, we get trapped because we are fixated on using only the tools that give us a sense of immediate safety…our whip and chair, our calendars and to-do lists. They are tried and true. Everybody knows they work. Right? Conventional wisdom tells us so. But, what if you had a key and you didn’t know it?
SO HOW DO WE ESCAPE?
Have you noticed the funny way Allyson Lewis spells time? She writes it out in all caps with a lower case “i” like this: TiME. It’s not a mistake. It’s intentional. It’s a way of visually capturing a real epiphany she had about her philosophy of TiME. She chose to do that to highlight what she calls the “i” and the “ME” in our management of time.
Bear with me for a moment as I explain this. I promise that we are working our way toward the escape route, but your really need to understand the difference between the “i” and the “ME” if you don’t want traditional tools holding you captive in the lion’s cage.
In Allyson’s recent book, The 7 Minute Solution, she reveals how there is a plurality to who we are. That plurality arises from our two brains: our left brain and our right brain. Allyson submits that the “ME” resides in our left brain. The “i” resides in our right brain. Traditional time management tools are virtually all extensions of our left brain. Our left brain loves traditional time management because it craves order, sequence, logic, things that are clearly measurable. These are great abilities, they just have some very clear limitations.
There is little or no place for the right brain in most organizational tools and time management tools. However, our right brain is the part of us that is going to risk, imagine, be adventurous, and grab the big picture. It’s where our highest ideals and images of the future reside. Take a moment and just consider the the table below.
|Left Brain–ME||Right Brain–i|
|Linear||Sees in Pictures|
|Budgets||In the moment|
|Labels||Sees the big picture|
|Methodical||Experiences the Senses|
|Likes Routines||Full of ideas|
|Prefers familiar||Fewer boundaries|
|96% of people, language center||High ideals|
|Begs for attention|
I would suspect that if you look at your activity over the past week, that as much as 80% of your time was spent on left brain (ME) activities.
Yet, if you truly want to do more than just monitor and manage life as it is right now, then you are going to have ramp up the time you spend, dreaming, envisioning, listening to your highest ideals, and picturing life as it could be. All of which are right brain (i) activities.
If you want to do more than just hold the lions at bay, then you have to start investing in your “i”. You have to start consciously and actively investing yourself in activities that flow from your right brain.
If you stop to think about people who are extraordinary achievers, they are great envisioners and great risk-takers. They are also creative, full of ideas, lack conventional boundaries, and intuitively seem to grasp many trends that others cannot yet see. Again, these are all right brain activities.
As I consider the difference between the “ME” and the “i”, the left brain and the right brain, I realize now why The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner and 7 Minute principles are hands down so much more effective than traditional tools.
How? The planner pushes me to sit down every 90 days and immerse myself in right brain activities, such as, envisioning the big picture of the next 90 days, imagining my life at its best, and defining my highest ideals. Then on a daily basis, the planner puts a slight positive pressure on me to keep that right brain actively engaged in ordering my day. For example, prompting me to consider what 5 high value tasks I will accomplish before 11 o’clock is a daily reconnect point with my highest ideals that reside in the right brain. The planner visually prompts me to consider making valuable life connections with other people. That desire to make connections is another craving of the right brain.
I hope the escape path from the lion’s cage is becoming very clear to you. You can’t just give you right brain a wink and a nod periodically. If you want to make bold, creative and life transforming moves, then you actually are going to have allow your right brain to be in the driver’s seat. It’s the part of you that sees the big picture, takes risk, imagines, dreams, creates and paints vision.
In the upcoming webinar, next Thursday at 1 p.m., EST, I am sure Allyson will go into much more detail about how we do this in our day to day lives. I suspect she will also give you a fuller picture of the “i” and the “ME”. I just hope I have made it clear that traditional time management is extremely limited in helping you truly transform your life. I hope you can see why your “i” has to become capitalized and not marginalized.
If you are ready to escape the cage full of lions, come join us in the webinar next Thursday. Do it quickly though. We are limited to 1000 on the call and as of last night we already had 895 people registered!
Wishing you greater productivity and meaning,
Chief Inspiration Officer, 7 Minutes, Inc.