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The Rubik's Cube of Time
Written By: Tyson Steele on 2012-04-24
"I don't have time for . . . "
In America today, no greater challenge may exist than simply trying to find the time to do all the things we need to do -- let alone "want" to do. Trying to cover every base in life is like solving a Rubik's Cube. You can get one side figured out pretty easy, but any more than that can be hard to dial in.
Unfortunately, it's usually not a question of good choices versus bad choices. (I'm pretty sure no one reading this is spending vast hours playing World of Warcraft or watching reruns of The Simpsons.) The real question is one of choosing between good versus better, or even better versus vital.
Author and career coach Dan Miller suggests that success and happiness derive from competence in Seven Core Areas of life: career, financial, social, family, physical, personal development, and spiritual. He recommends rating on a scale of 1 to 10 your performance in each area as it relates to your goals and values. Then think of each core area as the spoke of the wheel. Miller's point: a smooth ride and real progress is impossible without balance among each vital area.
After you figure out "where" to focus your time, you simply need to figure out "how" to focus it. Time is the great equalizer. Everyone, everywhere regardless of wealth, education, or social status has the same 24 hours in a day. Highly effective people demonstrate an astounding ability to focus on the proverbial "20 percent of effort that gives 80 percent of the result." Their "how" is different than most others.
When I was young I figured out how to quickly solve a Rubik's Cube. However it wasn't because of my genius intellect . . . it was because I read a book and learned the formula to solve it. In other words, I copied real geniuses and ended up getting a result like theirs.
Unfortunately, I can't give you a similar formula to solve the time management puzzle. However, by using the Seven Core Areas framework and applying the 80/20 rule, you can probably get at least some level of improvement right away. Like the Rubik's Cube, it's a puzzle, but you don't need to be a genius to solve it. You simply need to copy the best practices of others.
So give it a shot. By consciously focusing on the "best" areas and strategies, you'll find yourself uttering fewer "I don't have time for . . ." statements. Instead, you'll say with conviction, "I choose to use my time most effectively in this way." And maybe that is a puzzle solving formula after all.