Time management really has two parts: goal setting and tactical application. Without the goal setting and mindset work on the front end, we simply aren’t motivated to take appropriate action for very long, if at all. Goals sustain us as we are altering our habits and reforming our priorities to spend time where we feel we need to focus. The tactical application demands that we move into action, and start repetitively, effortfully redirecting our behaviors. We measure success by the metrics we choose, and voila! We are managing our time.
This all sounds great in theory. However, there are two personalities that can interfere with time management in debilitating ways. This was extremely evident during our Unstoppable Goals & Strategy Challenge last week. One personality trait is The Dreamer, and her opposite, equally debilitating persona is the Doer. Neither one is “bad” or “wrong”, of course. We all need a little Dreamer and Doer in our lives. However, when one or the other becomes overinflated, or out of balance, our ability to manage our time effectively, and thus achieve our goals and objectives, is seriously hampered.
The Overinflated Dreamer’s Viewpoint
Dreamers love doing inner, personal development work. They want to understand their desires, motivators, and strengths. Dreamers spend a lot of time on discovering their values, priorities, purpose and passion. They crave the freedom to create and explore. It is obvious why we need Dreamers—especially in leadership. These are the ones who chart the course and set the vision.
An overinflated Dreamer, however, comes to a screeching halt when they have to put it into action. They cringe at assigning any metrics to their success, and prefer a more free-wheeling approach. Typically, the Dreamer says, “I can’t be boxed in by rigid rules. I need the freedom to create and be inspired.”
Needless to say, these free-spirited Dreamers also have a difficult time managing their time. They are easily distracted by the next exciting opportunity, and can’t quite understand why their dreams always seem just out of reach, since they’ve “done their inner work” and “understand their why.”
The Overinflated Doer’s Viewpoint
Doers are very busy getting things done. They don’t have time to stop and do that touchy-feely goal-setting and values assessment. They have deadlines to meet and objectives to turn into reality, after all! Doers crank out work like it was going out of style, and if they are a little overwhelmed, stressed and burned out, they know there will be a chance to rest and get strategic later—after they meet that deadline.
Interestingly, Doers don’t stop to build a plan or set metrics any more than the Dreamers do. They are too busy! They are going flat out, and while it feels like there simply are not enough hours in the day to get it all done, they comfort themselves with the thought that there is an end to all this, once they reach their goal.
The Importance of Goals
In order to manage time effectively, we must know where we are headed, and why heading that direction is fulfilling to us. Almost everyone in the Challenge confused objectives (finite, measurable, action-focused) with goals (broad, not time-dependent, attached to a feeling). Goals are big, audacious and a little bit scary. (Can I actually do that?) Without them we will drift. Stay there in contemplation, and we will never know whether we can achieve it.
So, when Dreamers see goals as a work in progress, rather than an unattainable ideal, they can move into action. Likewise, when Doers see it as a compass for their direction, rather than a soft intangible, they are more focused in their efforts.
The Importance of Priorities
Almost no one in the Challenge got the importance of priorities. Priorities are where we spend our time. Period. They are not some high-flown ideal of what we want to value. They are what we do, repeatedly, day in and day out.
We can’t manage what we aren’t willing to look at. Everyone was amazed when they wrote down where they were actually spending their time. It was a bit uncomfortable because it didn’t line up entirely with where we wanted to be spending our time, and the goals we wanted to achieve.
That’s the bad news. The incredibly good news is if we take the time to look at our priorities, then we can begin to change our habits and our focus with real intentionality. We can only change what we focus on.
Dreamers can actually increase their freedom by altering their habits, and Doers can get more done by altering theirs.
The Importance of Metrics
Doers and Dreamers alike resist setting metrics. Metrics feel confining to the Dreamers. When we scratch the surface, what we usually find with Dreamers is that they are terrified of not achieving a milestone, and immediately feeling like a failure. While Doers don’t want to take the time to invest in the process. They are laser focused on the goal, and see it as the only thing worth measuring.
Both Doers and Dreamers miss the entire point of metrics and milestones. Any goal big enough to motivate and inspire us takes time to achieve. Willpower and discipline are finite resources, where willingness and practice are nearly limitless. Metrics and milestones are not like grades on your final exam. They are like a roadmap. At each milestone and metric you get to assess: Am I on track? Do I need to adjust anything I am doing here? If so, what can I try?
Curiosity keeps us balanced and relaxed, which is a vital part of time management. When we tense up we actually shut off blood flow to our brain and decisions become more difficult. Our breathing becomes shallow and our physical energy drops.
The other key component of metrics and milestones that Doers and Dreamers both miss (Dreamers rarely get there in the first place) is they skip the prerequisite celebration. When Doers keep a breakneck pace from tactic to tactic without celebrating each milestone, they lose motivation and momentum. It begins to feel like the goal is taking too long to achieve, because they forget it is a process of changing our entire brain as well as our circumstances.
Time management demands we integrate our Dreamer and Doer selves, to both create the goals and then take the effortful and repetitive actions that move us forward. That is simply how anything and everything gets done.