Monday, January 19, 2009

"Time Power" for Becky

I've mentioned before my long-time fascination with DayTimers and goal-setting, going back to 1987 when I was a fraternity pledge in good ol' Delta Upsilon and an alumnus introduced the concept. I got a coupon that night for 3 months of free DayTimer refills, and I haven't been without a planner since. That free sample also came with some little cards that referenced the Time Power planning system, based on a book by Charles Hobbs. I read the book, and it remains my favorite book on time management to this day. It's out of print now, but I got a used copy with a B&N gift card this Christmas.

As a parenthetical note--another of my favorite books on time is The 10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management, by Hyrum Smith. I'm pretty sure that Smith stole his stuff from Hobbs... the books are too similar for it to be coincidence, both authors are from Utah, and Hobbs book was published earlier. Smith went on to found the "Franklin Quest" company, which made a planner that looked suspiciously like a DayTimer, and later merged with Steven Covey's company that produced the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to form the Franklin Covey corporation. But I digress.

Anyway, the key to Hobbs' system is what he calls "Unifying Principles." (Smith called them "Governing Values.") The idea is that you build a successful life like a pyramid. The base of the pyramid is conscious decision-making about what your principles and priorities are. Only when you know what you value (and in what order those principles are arranged) can you set long-term goals. The long-term goals form the next level up on the pyramid, and they, in turn, will spin off intermediate goals. Then, at the top of the pyramid is the daily stuff you write on your DayTimer page. For example, if one of your Unifying Principles is financial security, that may kick out the long-term goal to retire as a millionaire. From that naturally spins off intermediate goals like "set up 401-K" and "retire short-term debt." And from there comes the daily task of "pay $50 extra on visa bill." A real key to this system of thought is looking back at our decisions and asking, "is my walk matching up with my talk?" Anybody can SAY they value God or family or whatever above work or TV. But looking back at your expenditure of time and money will often give a clue as to what the reality is. And when there is "incongruence," as Hobbs puts it, the only two choices are to change what you say or change what you do.

One more aside--one of the things I like best about the "Time Power" model that is not covered as well in the other literature is the recognition that sometimes other people (like our boss) can have legitimate claims on our time and priorities. Although it may be necessary to make changes in our employment to bring our life into congruence, generally speaking, I don't get a chance to make progress toward my personal life goals when I'm on the clock at work. Most of what I'm talking about here is discretionary time.

Anyway, over in the post about my running log, Becky wrote that she's not quite sure what her goals should be. Let me suggest taking some time and working to figure out these "Unifying Principles." I did, probably 20 years ago. And my list has evolved very little over that time. Following is an abbreviated description of who I decided to be a long time ago. One note: these are GOALS. I make no claim as to being consistently successful in being the "me I want to be." I initially used one word for each of my principles, but each word carries some weight.

  1. FAITH. The older I get, the more serious I get about this one. I say I put God first, and I try to mean it. And I believe that doing that makes everything else flow like it should ("seek ye first the kingdom of God, etc.")
  2. FAMILY. After "love God," comes "love your neighbor." And my closest neighbors are my immediate family, followed by my extended family. I tell myself I would rather succeed in these first two areas and fail in all the others. Also, my role as "provider" is wrapped up in this one.
  3. CHARACTER. This includes personal integrity, being a role-model for my kids, etc.
  4. WISDOM. This is where my inner nerd comes in. My reading in everything from the Bible to biographies to track coaching manuals to political blogs is rooted here. But it's a conscious choice that "wisdom" is subordinate to "faith" and "character."
  5. DISCIPLINE. I value this trait in myself and in others. It's what separates good intentions from doing what needs to be done. It's also an area of constant struggle.
  6. SERVICE. I've thought many times that I ought to rename this one "stewardship." But it is a combination of not taking my many blessings for granted and seeking to use them constructively and not just selfishly.

Anyway, that's it. Lots of what I do is held up by these decisions made 20+ years ago. For example, my teaching and coaching is related to family (making a living), wisdom, discipline, and service. I hope my budgets are informed by faith (Biblical principles), family (again, responsibility for their well-being), wisdom, and discipline. My daily Bible reading is related to faith, wisdom, and discipline. And so forth. And when there is a conflict (say, between what looks like "wisdom" and the teachings of scripture), I decided a long time ago what order these items line up in.

One last thought. It's still possible to screw this up, if your principles are not grounded in TRUTH. There are plenty of folks out there who are just zipping along living lives in perfect congruence with faulty principles--materialism, racism, me-first. But that's a topic for another day.


bekster said...

Thanks, Larry. This post deserves a response with more thought put into it. Look for something long from me later.

Pete said...

"I make no claim as to being consistently successful in being the 'me I want to be.'"

Yet you will be closer to the mark than those who have no goals... As Zig Ziglar said: "If you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time." You've consistently aimed at a daily bible reading. Though you may have not hit it daily, you've hit it more often than if your goals did not include faith.

I've said this once; I'll say it again: You should teach a class on this. I'm not talking about for high school (though it is very necessary for them). I'm talking about at camp, at your church (the verse "making the most of every opportunity" comes to mind).

I would pay to sit in a seminar of time management from someone like you because I already respect you. For how much should I write the check? It looks like Becky & I will be in attendance. We can get Tommy to do the sound/lights.

Seriously, though, I'd love to sit in a weekly bible study class where time & life management is the topic. I've got both books you reviewed. I am currently reading the 10 natural laws book in my reading rotation. I've even put a couple pieces of paper with the book to take notes.

Larry, you honestly are a beacon. Y'know how Paul said, "follow me as I follow Christ?" The way you live illustrates that principle. People should follow your example.

Keep up the daily disciplines. How's that bible reading coming?

Coach Sal said...

Pete, you're way too kind. But thanks. Sometimes I think I write my whole blog just for you and Becky (although I know there are a couple of lurkers, too). Thanks for your encouragement.