How to Manage your Time Better Than Stephen Covey (or pretty damn close)

Copy of Power of RoutinueUp to this point, you’ve created your WHY filter, space to work in, gotten UBER specific on what you want to work on, and drafted plan to get you from point A to point B.

But having a plan is one thing.  Actually putting the plan into action is a whole different thing.   And it can be the toughest thing in the world to move from planning to action.

Ya see, when you have a plan, you stand on a precipice of taking your intention and moving into action.  Which can be very scary, especially if this is your 2 or 10th attempt at it!

It’s super easy to let that those little voices in the back of your head talk you out of it.  What if I fail? What if I succeed?  What if my plan doesn’t work?  What if I forgot a step?  AHHH!

I’m going to show you how to overcome this transition, but let’s first talk about the two enemies of execution which are lack of momentum and too much complexity.


The Law of Inertia

Newton’s first law of physics, the Law of Inertia…

“An object in motion tends to stay in motion until acted upon by another outside force.”

So if  lack of momentum is the first obstacle of moving from the planning stage to the doing stage, what is the simplest way overcome this?

Crazy enough, you already know what to do to overcome the voices in your head and build momentum to take action!  So let’s recap the ground you’ve already covered…

First, you have to recognize how the fear of failure (or even success) is keeping you stuck in the planning stage indefinitely.  For 99% of us, fears will always be there lurking in the dark.  But it is how you deal, adapt and evolve with your fears that counts.

Second, you have to ditch the distractions that rob you of your time, focus, and energy.  I have a whole process on how to swear these distractions off, but the idea is to not engage in a distracting activity before you get your “2 Before 10 action items” done for the day.

Third, you have to know what you want to work towards and have a plan to get it.  That means defining what you want you want to move away from, but more importantly what to move towards, what step comes first, and which ones next.

But, maybe even looking at your awesomely simple plan can be daunting.

“Complexity is the enemy of execution”

Now that it is the time for the rubber to meet the road and to start executing your plan….

You have to have a come to Buddha moment with yourself… and ditch the thought that being busy equates to being productive.

Being busy gives you a false sense of control… ever gave yourself kudos for making it through a busy day?   But when you sat down to think, you really didn’t get anything done that was meaningful.

Allowing yourself to be busy is a major source of distraction and stress (see step 2 above).

In order to be truly in control of your time, you have to be OK with not being busy and redirecting the time and energy you have created thus far into to things you really want to do.  This means your actions have to speak your intentions.

For example, if your deepest desire is to lose 10 pounds, sitting on a couch eating bon-bons isn’t going to get you there.  If you want to get more clients, spending hours fiddling with your website won’t cut it.  If you want to reconnect with your family and friends, continuing to working extra nights and weekends won’t help you get to your goals.

If you want to see different results from before, you have to have take different actions.


Managing your day

Here’s my 4 step action list to planning your day that is simple to execute and keeps you focused on being effective, not busy..

Step 1: Pick the two actions items that will move you closest to what you want (ie. your #1 priority/goal) and do these before 10am… at all costs.  Why?  This is called leveraging the power of micro-action.

If you repeat ONLY this step for 90 days, that means you have completed 180 steps towards your goals (who’s doing the happy dance now!?!).  Do this consistently for a year… that’s 720 meaningful action steps completed… wow!

But we aren’t done yet…

Step 2. List out everything else you have to do today.  Make sure everything else matches up with your WHY filter and has passed the cutting the crap test… be diligent.  You’d be shocked how much stuff can sneak back on your plate.

Step 3:  Take your slim and trimmed list and group the items and meetings to maximize your natural energy levels.

  • Save anything that requires more than 60% of your brain power for when you have more energy. For most this is the morning.
  • Save anything that requires 60% or less of your brain power for later (emails, phone calls, reading, etc.).  For most, this is between 12pm – 3pm.
  • Got errands to run?  Group these together so you are only getting out once a day… you’ll also save gas too!

Bonus step: Break out your crystal ball and visualize the day you just created and ask yourself these questions.  Visualization is a very powerful tool.  If athletes do it before competition, why shouldn’t you?

  • Are you over committed on meetings appointments?
  • Where might you get tripped up on execution?
  • Is there any fun in your day?  Yes, FUN

Summing it up:

Transitioning from planning mode into action mode is simple when you can overcome the two main enemies of planning which are lack of momentum and complexity.  An order to be truly in control of your time, you have to be OK with not being busy and redirect your time and energy into to things you really want to do.

Life’s short.  So, make shi(f)t happen!


PS. Know someone who could use a little help getting their shi(f)t together?  Send them this post.

About The Author


Whitney, author of the forthcoming book "Making Your Shi(f)t Happen: A 6 week bootcamp to prioritize, organize, and simplify your life", helps professionals get waaaay more done in far less time (with far less stress), so they can get back to the important things in life. She is a wife, mom and lifestyle strategist. Grab her FREE videos here.