Four Common Time Obstacles

Time is limited (we do, after all, have 24 hours in a day), so it’s not uncommon to feel apprehensive as the minutes tick away. Many people let that apprehension overwhelm them, which puts their success at risk.

That’s why, today, I want to talk about four common time obstacles. And I want to show you how to move them out of the way so you can successfully complete your goals:

1. Don’t let TIME lock you in.

I encourage members of our Total Success Achievement/Epiphany Alliance program to keep a tight schedule — a certain number of hours spent on each of their goals every day. I recommend that they limit the number of goals they set, too.

Sure, some projects will have time constraints that you should meet. (You don’t want to undermine the importance of meeting deadlines. Getting your work done on time is crucial to creating trust with your colleagues, clients, and employers.)

But more often than not, the time constraint will be an artificial deadline. By artificial, I mean it will be the “preferred” point in time to have the project completed. With proper scheduling, the project will probably be completed on time — but the world won’t come to an end it it’s a few days late.

Work diligently toward your deadlines, but do not impose excessive pressure on yourself. There is no need to risk your health by being overly stressed. You can:

  • Ask for an extension or…
  • Delegate certain tasks to others.

The first (and best) way to get out of the “locked in” thinking about time is to simply TAKE ACTION. Michael Masterson calls this the “Ready, FIRE, Aim” principal. Taking action (FIRING) is a way to put time to work for you and pull yourself out of that self-imposed prison of deadlines and schedules.

You may not be able to guarantee a project’s completion date, yet you can be mindful of the date and make your best effort to move toward it.

2. Don’t let TIME overpower you.

We live in an increasingly distracting world. If you’re not checking e-mail, you’re answering the phone… or you’re in a meeting… or you’re rushing to pick up your kids. It’s easy to feel swamped. And when you feel swamped, you can shut down.

Shutting down is no way to accomplish your goals!

Instead of allowing all the interruptions to overload your brain, stay in the moment. Don’t think about your daughter’s soccer game at 6:00… don’t worry about tomorrow’s meeting… don’t agonize over your mother-in-law’s visit next weekend. Stay in the moment and ignore all the chatter inside your head.

Calm down by reminding yourself that you have a schedule. You do, don’t you?

Focus on the task at hand, and you’ll be more productive and efficient. It may seem contradictory, but if you stay in the present moment you will move forward — and much faster than if you spend your time running around in anxious circles.

Remember, the idea is to make time your friend… not the enemy!

3. Don’t let TIME carry the bad moments forward.

I remember working with a CFO on a big project with a tight deadline. We were coordinating our schedules to arrange meetings with key vendors and management teams. He objected to having to be present at all these meetings and “went off” on me.

Then he paused, calmed down, and realized that (being the money guy) his participation was crucial.

He apologized and said, “Bob, I behaved badly. I want us to put that moment on a ship… sail it out into the ocean and blow it up. Then it will be gone, and we can move forward. Is that okay with you?” I replied, “Sure, great idea. Bye-bye boat… Bye-bye bad moment.”

The lesson: Precious time slips by when you are dwelling on something that made you feel angry or upset. Don’t let that happen to you.

Here’s what to do when you catch yourself having a bad moment:

  • Acknowledge the mistake/inconvenience/frustration to yourself but avoid “going off” on someone else.
  • Take a deep breath or excuse yourself for a few minutes to collect and compose yourself.
  • Begin again where you were BEFORE things went off course.
  • Let the bad moment sail out to sea… never to be mentioned again.

You really don’t have the time or the energy to keep dragging bad things forward. It is a natural tendency… dragging the bad forward. However, it SLOWS down the progress you’re trying to make on your goals.

4. Don’t let TIME be a stressor.

Years ago, I used to watch a TV show called Cheers. One of the characters, Frasier, had a fear of flying, and he joined a support group to try to overcome it. Their counselor took the group on an airplane, telling them “think of your happy place” when the fear begins and become “one with your happy place” instead of one with your fear. The situation made for a funny show. But the counselor’s advice had some real value…

You too can use this technique of thinking of “your happy place”
when you become stressed about time.

It is an excellent way to distance yourself from the anxiety yet still remain in the moment or… get past the moment.

If you find yourself feeling stressed out, pressured, or off track:

  • Step away from your desk (or wherever you are).
  • Take a deep breath and release it slowly (counting to 10).
  • Close your eyes and picture your “happy place.” Maybe it’s lying in a hammock on a Sunday afternoon… being in a movie theater watching a great film… thinking about the hug you will receive from your daughter when you get home…

Wherever your “happy place” may be, picture it until you feel yourself becoming calmer. Once you’ve reconnected with being in a good frame of mind, you can get back to work.

Time Is a Blessing

Time is a valuable tool when you’re trying to accomplish your goals. The trick is to make time your friend by remembering that it is a reference point. It’s not something to worry about, nor is it an enemy. If you find yourself confronting any of the above time obstacles… take a deep breath and put my recommended success techniques to work.

[Ed. Note: You can change your life and accomplish all your goals with simple strategies like the ones Bob Cox just shared. For dozens more ways to turn your dreams into reality — plus tons of goal-setting tools and motivation to get yourself going — sign up for ETR’s Total Success Achievement/Epiphany Alliance program.]