Personal Success Today http://personalsuccesstoday.com Self Improvement Tools For Personal Success Fri, 28 Apr 2017 17:24:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Goal Setting: A Step-by-Step Guide to Setting and Achieving Goals http://personalsuccesstoday.com/goal-setting/ http://personalsuccesstoday.com/goal-setting/#respond Thu, 27 Apr 2017 22:41:09 +0000 http://personalsuccesstoday.com/?p=8631 Table of Contents Dreams Resolutions Goals SMART Goals Why Goals Fail Procrastination     Goal Setting Goal setting is simply writing down a dream. Goal achieving is simply taking that written goal and taking action to complete it. Sounds easy doesn’t it. Imagine writing down your dream of making a million dollars. You can see […]

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Table of Contents

 

 


Goal Setting

Goal setting is simply writing down a dream. Goal achieving is simply taking that written goal and taking action to complete it. Sounds easy doesn’t it. Imagine writing down your dream of making a million dollars. You can see the thousand dollar bills sitting in a large safe. Feel the texture, smell the aroma of freshly printed ink. Now all you have to do is write down an action plan, and do it step by step.

Some success gurus in the expert space will tell you it’s that simple. Just pay them a few thousand dollars and they will give you all the tools you need to find success. You determine what you want, and then go get it.

Unfortunately they don’t tell you the painful, messy and often expensive road to success. The 100 hour weeks, the mortgaging of your house, and the back stabbing people you have to deal with along the way. They certainly don’t tell you about the people that fail along the way, spending money they don’t have on products that they don’t need or the bad days when your spouse leaves you because she hasn’t seen you in a month.

Goal setting has been so over glamorized that you would think the rewards are easy. But in truth, the real question is; are you willing to do what it takes to be successful? Ask yourself:

Are you willing to put in the time, effort and money to move forward?

If so, let’s really simplify the whole process.

Let’s start at the beginning.

To help guide you along with the rest of this article I’ve taken a simple goal that you have probably faced in your life a few times. It’s one that I faced for way too long. It’s simply this; you have a collection of items that you need to put away. Maybe it’s a sink full of dishes, a pile of junk mail on your kitchen counter, or maybe, like me, a collection of tools sitting on your workbench.

You simply need to clean them up and put them away.

Simple enough . . . or is it?

Goal Setting Example

To start my goal setting example, I’ll share with you a task that should have taken me ten minutes at the most, yet I put it off for months. I had accumulated a pile of tools on my workbench that needed to be cleaned up and put back in my toolbox. I simply didn’t put them away after I worked around the house a few times. Simple enough. But I agonized and procrastinated about that task for months.

Maybe you can relate?

Maybe your garage is a mess. Maybe you have a junk room that needs sorting. Maybe your sink is piled up with dishes since last week . . . or longer.

Most people I know have some area that needs attention.

Just driving down my street on a Saturday morning and glancing behind the open garage doors lets me know I’m not alone with this goal.

In this example my goal is simply this. I want to put my tools back in the toolbox.

goal setting tools in toolbox

Let me take you along on a journey and show you why goal setting is harder than it looks.

Dreams

The first stop on your goal setting journey is to walk out into your garage. You see the pile of tools on the workbench and sitting on top is a newspaper, which catches your eye. On the back page is a picture of a garage organizing system. Instantly you daydream about the perfect garage. The gleaming white cabinets offset your painted floor. Your household tools are all organized and put away. Your larger tools are hanging neatly on the wall. Clean, shiny and beautiful.

Your dream is perfection.

You know what you want.

Unfortunately, you put the paper down and walk back in the house. Your tools still on the workbench.

Reality is that dreams alone do not make a goal.

You had a vision of success, but nothing else.

Definition of a Dream: a succession of images, thoughts, or emotions passing through the mind

Simply Said: The act of visualizing your goal or idea. You need to be able to see it.

Step 1: Visualize Your Goal. Completed

Resolutions

You walk back in the house, somewhat depressed. You visualize that beautiful and organized garage in your mind but then think back to the ugly pile of tools you have sitting on the counter. You say to yourself; “I’m going to clean those tools up and put them away.”

Now you have a resolution. A resolve to do something about your present condition.

Definition of a Resolution: a resolve; a decision or determination: to make a firm resolution to do something.

Simply Said: The act of speaking your goal. You need to be able to describe the goal audibly.

Step 2: Vocalize Your Resolution. Completed

Unfortunately, by themselves vocal resolutions fail over 80% of the time. You are going to need to take an additional step.

Goals

You remember hearing the old adage that you should write your goals down, so you walk over to your desk, grab a piece of paper and write down your goal. You simply write; I’m going to put my tools away.

You take the piece of paper and tape it to your computer monitor.

Now, every time you sit at your computer, you’ll be reminded that you need to put your tools away.

You have a written goal.

Definition of a Goal: the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end.

Simply Said: The act of writing your goal. You need to be able to describe the goal on paper.

Step 3: Write your goals down. Completed.

Unfortunately, just like resolutions, just writing down a goal doesn’t make it so. You need to add specifics.

SMART Goals

Staring at the goal on the monitor in front of you, you remember an acronym they used at work for goal setting. You recollect your manager saying you should set SMART Goals. Picking up your work folder off of your desk, you search until you find the SMART Goals handout. On it is listed five criteria.

A goal must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.

So you take five minutes and list out some specifics

  1. Specific; I will take all the tools off of the workbench, clean them, and put them back in the proper drawers of my toolbox.
  2. Measurable: When all of the tools on the desk are in the box, the goal will be completed.
  3. Attainable: Putting all the tools away is certainly well within my ability.
  4. Relevant: Putting my tools away is relevant to a clean and well organized garage.
  5. Time Bound: I will put my tools away by the end of the day tomorrow.

Definition of a SMART Goal: It needs to conform to the following criteria: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.

Simply Said: The act of writing out SMART specifics. You need to be able to complete all five criteria on paper.

Step 4: SMART Goal Criteria Written Down. Completed.

Now you have a deadline and specifics, but still no action plan. You’ve moved closer to completing your goal, but in my research about 50% of SMART Goals fail. Unfortunately, many goal setting plans stop here.

Maybe you need something more . . .

Why Goals Fail

Goals fail because there is something missing in the execution.

In the case here, you have a goal, but at a time that is distant.  You know what needs to be done, but you have no action plan. You have visualized success, but not how to achieve it.

Definition of Failure: nonperformance of something due, required, or expected:

Unfortunately, a SMART Goal without an action plan leads to . . .

Procrastination

As humans, we are generally lazy. Our lizard brain asks: Why would we want to go out into the hot garage and get all dirty cleaning up tools? After all, no one will see the mess. We start making excuses. We start thinking about anything but the task at hand. Going back in the living room and having a cool one watching TV, sounds a lot better than your dirty stinky garage.

I’ll put the tools away LATER . . .

Definition of Procrastination: Putting off or delaying, especially something requiring immediate attention

Unfortunately, LATER for many people never comes. Often we procrastinate with a lesser job or task, or just go veg out in front of the television.

What we really need is a  . . .

System

So far, we have set ourself a goal of putting our tools away. Following all of the guidelines for goal setting, we now have a SMARTER goal. We have a far off deadline, and our mind is trying to distract us with more pleasurable activities like watching TV. Unfortunately, when you’re working toward a goal, you are essentially saying to yourself, “I’m not good enough yet, but I will be when I reach my goal.”

Imagine how you will feel when you miss the deadline tomorrow.

the self talk will rage . . .

  • I can’t even put my tools away
  • I’m so stupid, what a dunce
  • I don’t have any willpower

Then of course, you’ll grab a pint of ice cream and go watch another TV show.

But think back to the goal. Every time you look at that pile of tools you stress out. You feel stupid for letting your tools get like that, and even worse for procrastinating who knows how many times that you have walked into the garage.

Setting the goal adds stress.

However, instead of a goal, how about developing a system to clean and sort your tools. Then just set a timer and execute the system. When you focus on the practice instead of the performance, you will enjoy life much more.

Definition of System: Any formulated, regular, or special method or plan of procedure:

So here is how a tool/object cleaning system would work: You pick up one tool, wipe it off with a rag and cleaner, walk over to your toolbox and put it in the proper drawer. You audibly say to yourself, I’m going to pickup this hammer, clean it off and put it in drawer number two. Then walk back to workbench and repeat.

Set a timer for ten minutes and execute the system.

No goal or performance mental stress hit.

Action

The easiest way to take action on a system or goal is to use what is know as a “timebox.” Just turn off all distractions, set a timer for a desired time (50 minutes is a popular time for longer projects) and then do one and only one task until the timer goes off. Take a ten minute break and then repeat as necessary.

Definition of Action: An act that one consciously wills and that may be characterized by physical or mental activity:

SMARTER Goals

Definition of a SMARTER Goal: It needs to conform to the following criteria: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely and be designed around an Existing Habit, where the Routine is changed.

Goal in the Box

Some Assembly Required

All Inclusive

Batteries Included

The Impossible Gift

Can I give this goal to someone and be guaranteed that they accomplish it?

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The Power of Centered Focus http://personalsuccesstoday.com/centered-focus/ http://personalsuccesstoday.com/centered-focus/#comments Wed, 19 Apr 2017 22:12:13 +0000 http://personalsuccesstoday.com/?p=8590 The power of centered focus. When you start a project, it’s often hard to know where you need to focus. There are often multiple sections/objects that you need to take into consideration. I often question what item I should start with? This often requires that I set priorities for each item. Selection by priority is hard […]

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The power of centered focus. When you start a project, it’s often hard to know where you need to focus. There are often multiple sections/objects that you need to take into consideration. I often question what item I should start with? This often requires that I set priorities for each item.

Selection by priority is hard to do. I ask myself; what is important and what isn’t? Often I just start with one thing and take action. Over time, I’ve found that it’s better to take action on one item than spending extended time trying to reach a conclusion.

Centered Focus

However, if I have a center focus, I can quickly make a decision. I just simply run my idea through the lens of the center item. I find the easiest way to explain this is a visual illustration. For a five category project, the X pattern is very helpful.

Matrix Five Pattern

This is best illustrated by the number five on a pair of dice. The X pattern allows us to set a bullseye category in the middle, with four other categories surrounding it. I call this a Matrix Five Pattern.

matrix five pattern

For example, if you take the four burner idea that we had in our last post where we include family, friends, health, and work; each one of those requires a decision. But if we center our focus on our purpose, our goal helps us decide how much time we spend on each quadrant. Our defined purpose is what helps us come to a resolution. Here is a graphic illustrating the concept.

Five Burner Theory Graphic

By figuring out our purpose, we can more readily manage our time and resources for each quadrant.

purpose matrix

LIGHT Matrix Diagram

In describing my primary life goals, I usually use the acronym LIGHT. It stands for Legacy, Impact, Goals, Habits and Time. By centering our top category Legacy in the middle, we can see that our legacy is determined by the impact we have, the goals we set, the habits we follow, and the time we spend on productive projects. The flow is reversed in this diagram. The four outer items determine the outcome of the center category, in this case, our legacy.

centered focus legacy

Creativity Matrix Diagram

I have a number of creative pursuits, but one thing they have in common is my need to share them with others to be effective. This can be illustrated with this matrix five diagram.

Whether I write a blog post, give a speech, create a graphic or learn a new skill, sharing them with my tribe is essential. By printing and referring to this simple centered focus diagram, I am reminded that nothing happens until they are shared.

Overall.

By quickly constructing an X diagram, it’s easy to visualize the centered focus of our project or process.

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The Four Burners Theory http://personalsuccesstoday.com/four-burners-theory/ Mon, 17 Apr 2017 16:18:09 +0000 http://personalsuccesstoday.com/?p=8579 I ran into an interesting life planning concept over the weekend, called The Four Burners Theory. Four Burners Theory Imagine it this way. Your life is represented by a stove with four burners on it. Each burner representing one major quadrant of your life. Burner one represents your family. Burner two is your friends. Burner […]

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I ran into an interesting life planning concept over the weekend, called The Four Burners Theory.

four burners theory

Four Burners Theory

Imagine it this way. Your life is represented by a stove with four burners on it. Each burner representing one major quadrant of your life.

  1. Burner one represents your family.
  2. Burner two is your friends.
  3. Burner three is your health.
  4. Burner four is your work.

The Four Burners Theory says that “in order to be successful you have to cut off one of your burners. And in order to be really successful, you have to cut off two.”

The ultimate work/life balance conundrum.

I’ve seen this concept espoused by a number of writers lately, each with a slightly different take.

At first, I thought it would make sense to simplify things. I could easily lump my friends in with my family. Many of my family members are friends, so in many cases that would be easy. For work, I could easily get a standing treadmill with an elevated desk for my office, combining the health and work burners.

My mind was awhirl with possibilities.

I could run with friends. Health and friendship combined.

Maybe run a half marathon with friends and family. The family burner added in.

Maybe a work weekend with tennis, golf, and swimming. Invite friends, family, and co-workers. Get work done while playing. All four burners at once.

By taking some of these to extreme ends it became apparent that life is filled with choices. If I wanted to get real healthy and spend hours in the gym, eat a restrictive diet, and stay away from many different restaurants, my relationships with friends and family may suffer.

If I wanted to write a new book, isolation from other people would be a necessity. Sitting for hours at a time is unhealthy, but trying to stand and write fiction for hours doesn’t sound pleasant either.

Tradeoffs, it seems, are part of life.

The real reason I would want to turn off a burner or two would be to maximize my potential on the others. If I divided my time equally among all four burners, I’d have to accept that I would never reach my full potential in any one area.

Mastery would require sacrifices.

In our modern society, we want it all. I’m told I can be a best-selling novelist, a top podcaster, a world traveling motivational speaker. I can go to fifty different countries and sample amazing wine and cuisine. I see the seminar experts doing all of these things and more.

They say that we can have it all!

As I have gotten older, I realize that I can’t become an expert in everything that I want. I need to pick and choose. This simple fact drives me nuts at times. In my mind, I want to be like the celebrities, the gurus, the experts.

Except, when I look closer and see that two or three of their burners have completely gone out.

They sacrifice family and friends for work.

Their jet-setting decadent lifestyles have taken a major toll on their health

Most are on their third or fourth marriage, with pain, drama, and alimony to pay.

I come back to the simple reality that the gurus are lying to us.

We can’t have all four burners flame on at once.

Each burner involves decisions.

We have choices to make.

We must choose.

However . . .

We Do Have Options.

We can do some burner maintenance. If one or more of our burners are flickering, spitting or faltering we can do a tune up. We can . . .

1. Maximize Productivity

While I can’t focus all my time on one burner without consequences, I can maximize the time I have for each one. The best way to start is by focusing on important things.

Some examples:

  • Can I box my time to become more productive at work?
  • Can I get up an hour early and workout at the gym before work?
  • Can I meet with my friends at lunch during work?

By asking some simple questions you can improve the time you have available for different activities and create positive outcomes.

2. Delegate Tasks

While we can try and do it all, there isn’t enough time in the day to get it all done. With some creative delegation, we can spend our time on what we are good at and outsource some of the rest.

Here are some ideas:

  • Pay a parent or relative to watch the kids during work hours
  • Hire an employee to cut back on your work hours
  • Pay for a service to take care of home maintenance (cleaning, mowing etc.)

By delegating to others, we can add hours to our week that we can spend with family and friends. By cutting back on work hours, we can free up time for the gym or just go for a walk. While some delegation will cost money, others you may be able to barter or trade for.

3. Seasons

A third way to manage your burners is to focus particular time periods on a certain burner. This will throw off your perfect balance but allow you time to master a particular area. Here are some particular seasons that you might try:

  • Take an extended family vacation for weeks or months at a time
  • Join a networking group to build friendships
  • Set aside six months or a year to write a book

Life rarely allows you to keep all four burners going at once. By giving up on one dream for a short while, you may be able to maximize another. Maybe you need to let a burner go dim for this season. You can do many things in a lifetime, but not at the same time.

Burner Control

With four different quadrants, it’s hard to know what burners to keep going and which ones to go dim or out. Each burner has its own control.

In my life, I’ve let certain burners go out whack for extended periods of time. I’ve had work burners that burned so hot that they almost caught the entire stove on fire. I’ve had friends and family ones go dim or out for extended periods of time.

Unfortunately, I’ve let the health burner just flicker for years, while I gained weight and got badly out of shape. When the work burner flared, so did junk food, to the detriment of my health. The work burner usually requires sitting for long periods of time away from home in stressful situations. This dimmed family relationships and really kiboshed my health burner.

In looking back, I definitely needed more control of my stove. I needed a more even flame across all burners. I really need something to regulate the flame . . . The four burners theory isn’t working.

I Need a New Stove

With modern technology, many new stoves are coming in different configurations. One of the most popular is the five burner stove.

four burners theory

The burners on this stove are in an X pattern.

The other burners vary in size, with two middle sized at the back, one large one up front for frying, and one small one for simmering.  This gives up many more options than the standard four-burner model.

With this stove, you can keep all the burners lit. Unlike the four burner model, which would easily go out if turned down much, this stove allows different flame sizes.

Designate Your Central Burner

The central burner is a special one. When used, it helps control the flow of gas to the others. When the stove top griddle is used, it’s the central source of heat. Its heat flows evenly to the other burners, reducing hot spots and keeping food from burning.

In our analogy, the central burner is purpose.

The stovetop griddle is a balanced life.

Designate a Purpose

When you define and designate a purpose in your life, all the other burners come into sync. Like the stove above, you get to designate what goes over each burner. When you add a griddle, the heat is evened out. Your life is better balanced. You can simmer on the bottom right, and cook quickly on the bottom left. Food at the back gets an even temperature. Not too hot, not too cold.

Everything Cooking Comes Out Great.

With a centered and purpose driven life, you can focus on one area, without the rest of your life going cold. Stress is minimized, and each burner has its own purpose. Depending on the project, or time of life, all you need to do is put the right pot (category) over the right burner and your meal with come out cooked to perfection. The four burners theory is replaced by a five burner one with centralized focus.

The Matrix Five Pattern

Many times in life we set up our life in a pattern like the four burner stove. Each burner has its own way. Conflicts arise, drama ensues, and if we are not careful we can catch our whole life on fire.

matrix five x

When we set our life in a matrix five X pattern, we have a central focus and the rest of our life revolves around it. All four corners are affected by the center.

Work Life Balance

Is it time for a new stove in your life?

Question: Which burners have you turned off?

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Increase Productivity: A Review of The Mastery Journal http://personalsuccesstoday.com/increase-productivity/ http://personalsuccesstoday.com/increase-productivity/#respond Fri, 14 Apr 2017 14:26:42 +0000 http://personalsuccesstoday.com/?p=8565 Increase Productivity; that has been my goal for years as a personal development blogger. I’ve read a number of books and applied various techniques over time. Some have worked well, others have failed miserably. My challenge is that I’m a creative. I have shiny object syndrome. I love to create and use new things. This […]

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mastery journalIncrease Productivity; that has been my goal for years as a personal development blogger. I’ve read a number of books and applied various techniques over time. Some have worked well, others have failed miserably. My challenge is that I’m a creative. I have shiny object syndrome. I love to create and use new things. This challenge often presents itself with a lack of focus. Put a new post from Facebook, a new tweet from Twitter, or a notification of a new email, and my focus instantly deflects.

For years my best defense from shiny object syndrome has been time boxing. I simply turn off all distractions, set a timer for 50 minutes and do one (and only one) thing till the timer goes off. Then I take a ten-minute break and repeat as necessary. This technique works well and can often double or triple my productivity during a distraction-filled day.

Since the time boxing technique has been my go to productivity strategy, I was intrigued when I heard about the Mastery Journal from podcaster, John Lee Dumas of EOFire. Listed right in the description was the fact that this journal could help me master these three skills:

  • Productivity: Accomplish tasks that matter to you and your business by putting a plan in place!
  • Discipline: Learn how to take your plan of action and EXECUTE that plan!
  • F.O.C.U.S.: Follow One Course Until Success and remain distraction-free in the process!

Once I looked at the pictures of the daily pages, I could see that time boxing was a major component.

mastery journal open

Each day includes 4 time boxing sessions plus a place for your morning routine. You get to choose your time box. For me, I like to use the 50/10 box (fifty minutes focus time, ten-minute break) or for longer projects a 100/20 box.

Mastery Journal Review

I’ve been using the Mastery Journal for ten days now. I can honestly say it has really changed my daily routine. It has become a daily coach, reminding me of my daily commitments. As a bonus, John Lee offers a Facebook group for daily accountability for people who have purchased the journal. It’s a nice touch to share with others and keep yourself on track.

Here is my overview

Mastery Journal Pros

  • Nice Quality Deluxe Bound Journal
  • Beautiful Cover Design and Text
  • Full Day View For Easy Access
  • Four Page Marking Ribbons
  • Simple and Easy To Follow Instructions
  • Well Thought Out Daily Pages
  • Sections for Morning Routine, Gratitude, and Four Sessions
  • Productivity and Discipline Tracker
  • Daily Productivity Review
  • Next Day Goal Area
  • Daily Positive Quotation
  • Ten Day Review Pages
  • Full 100 Day Plan

Mastery Journal Cons

  • Cannot Add Additional Pages
  • Binding Does Not Lie Completely Flat When Open
  • Would Like To See a Better 100 Day Completion Section

Overall

This is one of the best productivity tools I have ever used. It is simple to learn and designed as a 100-day mastery program for productivity, discipline, and focus. There are milestone sections at the end of each ten week period to keep you on track and reflect on your progress. Printed journals have their pros and cons. This one is very nice quality and something you’ll be proud to own, especially when you get to day 100.

This blog post is being written on day ten with the journal. Over the last two weeks, it has helped motivate me to create ten blog posts and ten podcasts. The time box feature of the journal is the best part. If you fill it in and set a timer, you will get it accomplished.

The private online Facebook group has been wonderful. Both John and Kate of EOFire have been helpful answering questions and explaining features.

If you are looking to increase productivity and focus, this is a great place to start.

Increase Productivity: Get a Mastery Journal

The Mastery Journal on Amazon

Mastery Journal Website and Intro Video

Daily Drivecast: Episode 19

Hear our podcast about the Mastery Journal here.

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Fifty Minute Writing Test: Take The Challenge http://personalsuccesstoday.com/fifty-minute-writing-test/ http://personalsuccesstoday.com/fifty-minute-writing-test/#respond Thu, 13 Apr 2017 18:57:33 +0000 http://personalsuccesstoday.com/?p=8560 Back in 2008, someone told me that as a blogger, I should write a book. I had been blogging for a few years and the idea sounded compelling. I had written a lot of posts and figured that I could just combine them into a longer document. I had heard that time boxing could help […]

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fifty minute writing testBack in 2008, someone told me that as a blogger, I should write a book. I had been blogging for a few years and the idea sounded compelling. I had written a lot of posts and figured that I could just combine them into a longer document. I had heard that time boxing could help me get a book done. I decided to give it a try.

However, when I sat down to write, I decided to try a little experiment. I am a big fan of the writer, Og Mandino.  He wrote fiction. His motivational stories of a human ragpicker changed my life.

I knew I had written a lot of non-fiction blog content. I felt confident that I could write a non-fiction book, but I questioned myself; could I write fiction? Could I write a story with emotion and conflict and even disaster, like Og did? Could I go from just facts and figures to one with a plot, places, and characters?

I decided to find out.

I got a cup of coffee, a pen, and paper, and found a quiet place on the couch.

I set a timer for fifty minutes of uninterrupted time and picked up the pen.

Nothing happened.

My mind was blank.

What was I going to write about?

Then I thought back to Og’s books. He always wrote in the first person. He was the main character. He wrote about people, places, and things.

He often noticed the smallest details. Sights, sounds, and even smells.

I looked up from the couch and saw the vacuum cleaner across the room.

In my mind, I could hear it whirring. I could see myself pushing it. I could see the dog toy next to it getting sucked in and stuck.

I started writing. That toy getting stuck was the first paragraph of my first fiction book.

When the timer went off, I had two pages written.

I got up for a minute, refreshed my coffee, and sat back down for another fifty-minute stint.

When the timer went off the second time I kept going until the first chapter came to a close.

My sentences were clumsy, I wasn’t sure how to write dialog, and my descriptions were bland and unremarkable.

But that didn’t matter.

This simple fifty minute writing test had created something special.

I had written a story that had a mystery.

I simply needed to know what happened next.

The next day before work, I wrote chapter two.

Now things were getting interesting.

There was an old bible with a brownie camera on top in the window of an antique store.

Why did the storekeeper in the story want $500 for it?

I had to know. I knew if I sat down the next day my muse would tell me all about it.

All I had to do was write it down.

Over the next fifteen weeks, I started using a laptop with a word processor.

I would write when I could, usually in the early morning when the house was quiet.

My muse came to visit me reliably, every time I sat for a while.

The book came together chapter by chapter, and miraculously it all tied together at the end.

It still had clunky sentences, strange dialog punctuation, and dull descriptions.

But the first draft was done.

I hired an editor, and we worked five chapters at a time over the next two months.

She took my clumsy sentences and worked magic. She massaged my dialog and enlivened my descriptions.

In the end, she taught me how to write fiction.

A hands-on priceless education.

When we were done, I learned how to self-publish, and one month later my first book arrived on my front doorstep.

The Path of Consequence became a reality.

Today, nine years later, I have three other published books with another two in the process.

All because of a 50-minute timer and a muse that keeps telling me stories.

Fifty Minute Writing Test

Here is a challenge for you.

They say that everyone has a book in them. Yours might be a mystery, a historical romance or even a dystopian thriller.

It might be a how-to book, such as a recipe book or homeowners guide to installing a garbage disposal.

Whatever the content, you’ll never know what it is until you start writing.

The easiest way to do this is . . .

  • Get a journal or ruled notebook and a pen.
  • Find a quiet place. Turn off all distractions.
  • Set a timer for 50 minutes.
  • Notice things, hear things, imagine things.
  • Pick up your pen and write.
  • Don’t worry about spelling or mistakes.
  • When the timer goes off, take a short break.
  • Repeat again

If fiction doesn’t work for you, try non-fiction. Find things that you enjoy writing about. Programs like Grammarly can help you correct mistakes.

I’m so glad someone encouraged me to write a book back in 2008. At first, I didn’t think it would be possible. But it was sitting down and giving it a try that opened my eyes. My words were clumsy at first, but my editor was kind and patient. In the end, it was the story that came through.

If you find this simple experiment fun, you’ll want to check out this helpful article from Jeff Goins.

It’s a great next-step resource to help you get traction as a writer.

Jeff Goins: How To Write a Book

We all have stories.

The world is waiting to hear yours.

Self-Publishing Resources

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Reusable Printable: Creating a Matrix-Five Action Planner http://personalsuccesstoday.com/reusable-printable/ http://personalsuccesstoday.com/reusable-printable/#respond Wed, 12 Apr 2017 22:10:41 +0000 http://personalsuccesstoday.com/?p=8548 When you do the same daily tasks over and over, it’s nice to have a reusable printable to track your progress. Instead of printing your planner on paper, you create the reusable printable on photo paper and use a dry erase marker to add items and check them off. Since I follow a daily time […]

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When you do the same daily tasks over and over, it’s nice to have a reusable printable to track your progress. Instead of printing your planner on paper, you create the reusable printable on photo paper and use a dry erase marker to add items and check them off. Since I follow a daily time management tracker as part of my Matrix Five Priority System, having one that is reusable saves me a lot of time and paper.

Photo Instead of Paper

Currently, I’m working through the 100 day Mastery Journal from EOFire, where I write down my daily plans the night before and then take action on each task the next day. Creating 5 x 7 inch printables allows me to list my upcoming tasks on a colorful grid and keep them on my desk where I can see them at a glance. The Matrix Five printable works perfectly with the time boxes in the Mastery Journal.

Always Viewable

While the journal is nice, it doesn’t sit flat on the desk, so I have to open it each time I want to reference it. With my printables, I just prop them on my monitor stand or put them in a photo frame for reference. When I’m done for the day a damp rag erases the text and I’m ready for a new day.

Horizontal Orientation

The first printable I created has a horizontal orientation, where I have enough room for a short sentence of description. I’ve found that just a couple of words for each task usually suffices. There are five wide task boxes, a box to list a daily/morning routine that you might have, and a small box to list one item you are grateful for.

reusable printables

Portrait Orientation

Creating one in vertical mode allows me to stand the printable on my desk and see it at all times. With the shorter boxes, one or two words will need to suffice. Similar to the horizontal printable, there are five task boxes, a box to list a daily/morning routine that you might have, and a small box to list one item you are grateful for.

reusable printable matrix five

Desk Arrangement

printables desktop

With a few printables created, you can use these in a variety of ways. The picture above shows how you might set these up on a given day.

Give Them a Try

If you want to try out these printables, I’ve created them as 5 x 7 inch photos that you can have printed at your local or online photo store. I use Costco for all my photo needs, but photo retailers such as WalMart, and Walgreens offer quick service too. I just upload them online and select 5 x 7 as the print size and glossy as the paper preference. Within an hour or two they are ready to go.

Dry Erase Markers

Once you have them printed, use a dry erase marker to fill them out. For longer sentences and more detail, use the fine tip markers. For one or two words, a standard marker will suffice. A glossy photo is pretty durable and can be used quite a few times. Once you are done for the day a damp rag will clean them up nicely.

Dry Erase Standard

Dry Erase Fine Tip

Reusable Printable: Free Download

Here are the Hi-Rez photo png files. Just download them to your computer and upload them as a 5 x 7 glossy photo to your local photo retailer.

5 x 7 Horizontal View  (Click link, then right click and save as to your computer)

5 x 7 Portrait View (Click link, then right click and save-as to your computer)

Podcast

The Daily Drivecast episode on the Erasable Daily Planner can be found here.

Overall

If you like free downloadables like this, please be sure to sign up for our weekly newsletter to be notified when new files come out.

Leave a comment below on how you will use these printables for your action steps.

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Ten Things You Can Do In Five Minutes Or Less http://personalsuccesstoday.com/do-in-five-minutes/ http://personalsuccesstoday.com/do-in-five-minutes/#comments Tue, 11 Apr 2017 12:18:24 +0000 http://personalsuccesstoday.com/?p=8544 It’s amazing what you can accomplish in five minutes. You can . . . Give Someone a Smile. It’s easy to do Just say “great” three times under your breath It will make you smile automatically Try it Call Your Mom Say something nice Make her day Collect Fortune Cookie Fortunes Pick nice ones Keep […]

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do in five minutesIt’s amazing what you can accomplish in five minutes.

You can . . .

Give Someone a Smile.

It’s easy to do

Just say “great” three times under your breath

It will make you smile automatically

Try it

Call Your Mom

Say something nice

Make her day

Collect Fortune Cookie Fortunes

Pick nice ones

Keep a few in your pocket

Pretend that one dropped to the floor

Hand it to the person in line in front of you

Motivate their day

Talk To a Cat

Listen to what they say

Take it to heart

Text An Old Friend

Say something nice

Plan a get-together

Send an Email You Have Been Putting Off

Take five minutes

Just send it

Send a Friend Request On Facebook To Someone You Admire

Be surprised when they accept your request

Know they are special if they do

Take a Dog For a Walk

Five minutes means so much

Go another five

Give Someone a Compliment

Make it just for them

Make them smile

Leave a Comment On a Blog

Say something profound

Touch the world

You’ll be surprised what you can do in five minutes.

Want a miracle? Set a timer for fifty minutes.

Do ten random things like this

Expect nothing

Be surprised

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Matrix Five: Priority Time Management http://personalsuccesstoday.com/matrix-five/ http://personalsuccesstoday.com/matrix-five/#respond Mon, 10 Apr 2017 22:04:19 +0000 http://personalsuccesstoday.com/?p=8528 Matrix Five; an unusual name for a time management system that allows you to set and track priorities across five pattern grids, including a day planner, short term goal priority grid, all the way up to a complete life plan. Matrix Five makes time management easy. This following is a simple introduction to the program. […]

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Matrix Five; an unusual name for a time management system that allows you to set and track priorities across five pattern grids, including a day planner, short term goal priority grid, all the way up to a complete life plan. Matrix Five makes time management easy.

This following is a simple introduction to the program.

Matrix Five Components

matrix five: five-ten-fifty

Most time management systems are complicated and hard to follow. Many of them take longer to set up and plan than the tasks themselves take to complete. Not so with Matrix Five. This system is based on the numbers, Five, Ten and Fifty. Using a time buffer, these numbers are all you will have to worry about using this system.

Matrix Five Grids

matrix fiv

The life planning matrix consists of five planning grids. Fill out the grids and you have a complete life management plan.

Fifty Minute Miracle

fifty min

The whole Matrix Five system is based on a simple time boxing technique called the Fifty-Minute Miracle. This simple hour long technique breaks a working hour into two parts; a fifty-minute work period and a ten-minute break. Grid number one allows you to plan a fifty minute hour into five and ten-minute priority sections. It also allows you to plan out your ten-minute break.

Ten Hour Day

ten-hour-daily-planner

The Matrix Five system is designed around a ten-hour workday. This period can include commute time, meals, and breaks. It’s designed for the days you work. Grid number two allows you to plan your day in sections such as morning/afternoon, focused/non-focused, and 100-minute chunks.

Fifty Hour Week

five day workdays

The Matrix Plan is built around a ten-hour workday, five days a week, fifty hours total. Grid number three allows you to plan your complete workweek. It’s easy to carry projects and goals over multiple days.

Fifty Week Year

matrix five logo year

The Matrix Plan is built around a fifty week year, with a buffer of two weeks at the end of December. Grid number four allows you to plan your complete year. It’s easy to create five and ten-week goals throughout the year.

Fifty Year Life Plan

fifty years-life-plan

The Matrix Plan is built around a fifty-year “legacy” goal for long-term planning, along with shorter five and ten-year strategic goals. Grid number five allows you to complete a comprehensive life plan. It’s easy to create five and ten-year goals with a strategic focus, once you have your legacy goal in place.

Complete System

While a grid system may sound complicated at first, the five grid worksheets make the process easy and painless.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll cover each grid and discover how easy it is to strategically plan your day, week, year and life using the Matrix Five System. Stay Tuned.

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The Power of 48 Minutes: How This Simple Idea Changed My Life http://personalsuccesstoday.com/the-power-of-48-minutes/ http://personalsuccesstoday.com/the-power-of-48-minutes/#comments Fri, 07 Apr 2017 12:21:46 +0000 http://successbeginstoday.dreamhosters.com/wordpress/?p=196 Back in 2006, the second year of this blog, I wrote about a simple time boxing concept called the Power of 48 Minutes. It’s a technique that I had learned from a presenter at a speaker’s conference. Simply put, you turn off all distractions, set a timer for 48 minutes and work on one and only […]

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power of 48 minutesBack in 2006, the second year of this blog, I wrote about a simple time boxing concept called the Power of 48 Minutes. It’s a technique that I had learned from a presenter at a speaker’s conference. Simply put, you turn off all distractions, set a timer for 48 minutes and work on one and only one thing until the timer goes off. Then you take a 12-minute break. You can repeat this as many times as needed.

Since 2006, I have used the time-box system hundreds of times. The technique has significantly enhanced the way that I work and has led to the creation of a simple, yet efficient, personal time management system.

Minor Changes

Over the years, I’ve tweaked the plan and made some simple changes. I currently use a 50-minute time block, with a 10-minute break, as I find that this is easily divided into five and ten-minute increments, which better matches the numbers on the clock.

Implementation

Early on I used an egg timer, but the constant ticking drove me nuts. I now use a digital timer which is completely quiet. I’ve developed some worksheets which allow you to easily divide fifty minutes into five and ten-minute segments for greater flexibility.

Other Tools

I am currently using the Mastery Journal from podcaster, John Lee Dumas, to improve my focus and productivity in a 100-day challenge. The journal is set up with four, time-block sessions per day, which ties in perfectly with the 50/10 system.

Variations

Over the years, I found situations where fifty minutes was not enough to complete a task, and that stopping in the middle was disruptive. For those cases, I just use multiples of fifty. One hundred minutes with a twenty-minute break works well (100/20), and I’ve found I can even go out to one hundred and fifty minutes with a thirty-minute break (150/30) for really long projects.

Wins

This time box procedure has helped me complete many projects over the years. I’ve used it to write six books, and I continue to use it on my current fiction book project. It has helped me greatly with this blog and my Daily Drivecast Podcast. I’ve even used it for housecleaning and yard maintenance.

Bottom Line

The time box procedure works because humans are not designed to be multitaskers. With cell phones, email, and the constant barrage of social media, this simple time-box technique can double or even triple your productivity, depending on how distracted you are. I challenge you to try it and see if it makes as profound a difference in your life as it has in mine.

The Original Article from 2006: The Power of 48 Minutes

Is there magic in the number 48? Does this number hold any significance in your future success? Speaker Don Crowther suggests that there is. In his presentation at the NSA Summer Symposium, Don told the audience that 48 minutes is the magic number. Here’s how it works… Set a timer for 48 minutes. Close out all distractions and work continuously for 48 minutes. When the timer goes off, get up and stretch, get coffee, use the restroom, etc, in the following 12 minutes. Repeat as necessary.

power of 48 minutes

Don reports that this technique repeated four times a day allowed him to write a 150-page book in just two weeks. The ability to focus on one task for 48 minutes straight was the key. I have been testing Don’s idea, and I have to say it works well for me. This eliminates the distractions that have a way of derailing even the best-laid plans. Taking a short 12-minute break once an hour is refreshing but not enough to get you off track. You can learn to stay focused quickly with this method.

How to Stay Focused

So the question comes up If this solution works well how can I use it in planning out my daily schedule and applying it to future goals. Can I successfully write a blog post in 48 minutes? Can I write a book chapter in that time? As I’ve tried the process, it has been a challenge to sit in one place that long. But when I do my productivity soars. I find it best just to keep writing, not worry about mistakes, and get everything on paper. Once I have the points on paper, I can go back and make my edits and corrections.

My usual morning schedule has about 2 hours of productive time available. I’ve tested the idea of blogging for an hour and then working on a book for the second hour. So far this has worked well with standard length blog posts and has yielded a book outline.

There does seem to be magic in the number 48!

This technique does require a little planning, and it helps to have a coffee cup warmer on your desk. The best timer I’ve found so far is a countdown timer with large numbers and a loud alarm. The easy to view numbers give instant feedback on how much time you have left.

Using this simple technique may help me streamline my daily blog postings and help me be much more consistent. The book outline is taking shape and given me hope of actually completing the project.

Update: The Power of 48 Minutes helped me write my first book (first draft) in a little over three months utilizing this method for two hours per day. Currently, it allows me to focus on my new book and easily get my 1,000 words in per day. It’s quite easy to learn how to stay focused.

If you find yourself getting distracted by your projects, give this simple technique a try. It has helped me focus and get things done!

Discover more about the Power of 48 Minutes here.

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Ten Hour Daily Planner: Plan Your Day Fast http://personalsuccesstoday.com/ten-hour-daily-planner/ http://personalsuccesstoday.com/ten-hour-daily-planner/#respond Thu, 06 Apr 2017 17:51:29 +0000 http://personalsuccesstoday.com/?p=8499 The ten hour daily planner is a free printable that allows you the flexibility to plan out your workday, from door to door, including commute time and meals. It’s designed for flexibility and allows you to track work time as well as breaks. In a previous post, I mentioned that most people that work a traditional eight […]

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ten-hour-daily-plannerThe ten hour daily planner is a free printable that allows you the flexibility to plan out your workday, from door to door, including commute time and meals. It’s designed for flexibility and allows you to track work time as well as breaks.

In a previous post, I mentioned that most people that work a traditional eight hour day, usually commute to work and take a lunch break. This ends up close to a ten hour day, with all things considered. Because of this, you’ll want to have a place to record those times on your planner.

With today’s post, I’ve included four versions of the ten-hour planner. I’ve gone for simplicity and function. It’s a 10 section to-do list with a place to record the time (hour) and a box to list items you want to focus on during that time period. I’ve designed each hour with a break period if you time-box (example: 50 minutes focused time with a ten-minute break). I’ve included a couple of graphics showing how you might fill in the sheets. Here is how they look.

Ten Hour Daily Planner Worksheets

Each of the planners below comes in PDF format and is printable on standard letter size paper.

1. Ten Hour Daily Planner – Black and White

The first one is just a standard black and white 10-hour worksheet. No frills, but it does allow the flexibility to set the hours of the day. Just write down the item(s) you want to focus on and any elements such as email or social media that you want to check during a break. I’ve designed these sheets to work with a time block such as a 50/10, where you focus on one task for fifty minutes and then take a 10-minute break.

ten-hour-day-planner-blank

Download: Basic ten-hour daily planner


2. Ten Hour Daily Planner with Morning Routine

This planner includes a spot at the beginning of the day to track your morning routine. There are five check boxes to list your items and check them off.

ten hour daily planner w morning routine

Download: Basic ten-hour daily planner


3. Ten Hour Daily Planner with Four Sessions

This is a planner that I use when I’m working on longer two-hour sessions during the day. The picture below shows how I might fill it in. Since you fill in the hours, you can easily skip hours like I did during the day. This is setup with a morning routine and two work blocks in the morning, and lunch with two work blocks in the afternoon, for a total of five hours each. I use this planner when I’m working with the Mastery Journal from John Lee Dumas.

ten hour daily planner filled in

Download: Ten-hour daily planner with four sessions

Download: Ten-hour daily planner with four sessions filled


4. Ten Hour Daily Planner – Color

I created a full-color version of the planner for those of you who like a more creative look. Here is how I might fill the planner out.

ten hour daily planner color

Full-Color Planner

Full-Color Planner – Filled In


Take It Into Evernote

10 hour daily planner evernote

Once you have filled in your planner for the day, you can quickly take a picture of it with your cell phone and save it to Evernote so you can view it anytime on the go.

Podcast

Here is the Daily Drivecast explaining how to use the Ten Hour Daily Planner.

Overview.

I hope you find these planning sheets helpful. If you work from home like I do, they can help you track items and see where you spend most of your time. I like to write down focus items for each hour and turn off distractions. Helps to get things done!

Question: How will you use the ten hour, daily planner?

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