Tag Archives: Time Management

Ambitiously Pursuing Your Own Self-Direction by Jim Rohn

I read this today and thought it was so great I felt the need to share – AOTL

What is the origin of true ambition? There exists really only one place to find true ambition and that is within you—in every thought, in every movement, in every motivation. Your ambition is an expression of who you truly are, your own self-expression.

Self-expression. Isn’t self-expression really self-direction? How you think, how you move, how you motivate yourself. Ambition is a result of self-direction and self-direction is one of the six key principles necessary for building ambition. Positive self-direction says, “I know who I am and I know where I want to go. I’m accumulating knowledge and experiences and feelings and philosophies that will help prepare me for opportunities that I know will show up without notice or any help on my part.” Because you know where you want to go, you have already been working on the parts of your personality that will make you better. Working on your attitude, working on your health, working on your time-management skills. Putting it all down on paper. And you constantly see yourself in the place you want to be, going in the direction you want to go.

Direction determines destination. So here is a question you must ask yourself, “Are all the disciplines that I’m currently engaged in taking me where I want to go?” What an important question to ask yourself at the beginning of the month, the beginning of the week, the beginning of the day. Because here is what you don’t ever want to do—kid yourself. Kid your neighbor, kid me and kid the marketplace, but don’t kid yourself—fingers crossed—hoping you will arrive at a good destination when you’re not even headed that way. You have to ask yourself often, AM I? Am I doing the disciplines that are taking me in the direction I want to go? Don’t neglect to ask these important questions, questions that help determine your direction, the set of your sail, your destination.

Is this the direction I want for my life?
Is this someone else’s direction?
Is this a goal I have been ingrained with since my childhood?
Is this goal my parents’, my spouse’s, my boss’s, my children’s or is it MINE?

Ask yourself these questions and then debate them. After you have answered these questions within yourself, then take it one step further and ask, “What am I doing that is working or not working?” Debate it all. Work with your mind to figure out the best possible direction for you—your self-direction. And then ambitiously pursue your own self-direction. Let the power of your own ambition take you where you want to go, to do what you want to do, to create the life you want to live!

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Angry Birds, I Can’t Quit You

Angry Birds, I can’t quit you.  Ever since my evil assistant Trevor introduced us a week and a half ago, you have confounded me, enticed me and made me addicted to your charms.  Angry Birds, I can’t quit you.

Yes, Angry Birds, the pointless and insipid iPhone app game.  Thanks to Angry Birds, I’ve become the Charlie Sheen of my own couch.  Playing the game no matter what else is going on around me.  In a week and a half, my family has left me, my bank accounts are empty and I wander around my house, robe open  in my underwear, staring at my iPhone screen, drooling and muttering insults at the stupid little red bird who can’t blow anything up and bounces off everything without inflicting any damage!  On the plus side, I received an encouraging email from Lindsay Lohan in which she offered to be my sponsor, provided I show the tiniest bit of evidence that I want to recover. I have hit bottom and started to dig.

Ah, Angry Birds, my current diversion. I’ve had millions of them.  They’ve ranged from incessant practicing of musical instruments to sitting for too long in front of the tube, watching CSI Boise and following the ever fascinating online  updates of Charlie and Lindsey as they circle the drain.

I’m talking about the things that keep us from doing the work we need to be doing. Of course, doing the things we like are easy.  We gravitate towards these things and tend to do them first.  When we’re done with them, we look for any reason we can to keep from doing the things that provide foundation to the dreams we are trying to build. Sound familiar?

I can’t remember where, but I heard something recently about productivity.  When asked about his long successful career, an older entrepreneur said “whenever I find myself in a lull at work, I ask myself this question: is this the most productive thing I could be doing right now.  I ask this question constantly throughout my day.”

Not as easy for a freelancer of course.  When you’re not working and trying to GET work, you also have the rhythm of home to deal with.  When you’re sitting in the car waiting to pick up the kids from school, no, it’s probably not the most productive work thing you could be doing.  But, if you’re waiting with an iPhone in your hand playing FREAKIN ANGRY BIRDS, stop and send an email to a business contact.  If you’re sitting at your computer, resist the urge to do the online NY Times crossword puzzle and do some technical research your craft or find some useful ways to network.

It’s great that we live in a time when there is so much right at our fingertips. Information is everywhere and it’s all fighting for our attention.  Leisure is everywhere and it’s all fighting for our attention.  I’m not saying never relax.  You have to let your mind have some downtime.  But, be disciplined and reserve time to work  on your career.  During that work time keep asking yourself: is this the most productive thing I could be doing right now?

That said, it’s been an hour since I wrote that last line.  I had to go to the bathroom, then my neighbor down the road called and said my dogs were loose. I retrieved them, fixed the gate that they compromised, (those damn dogs have more escapes than the cast of Hogan’s Heros) considered taking a shower and finally decided to finish writing instead. So, yes I get it.  Being at home trying to work is distracting.  At least I haven’t picked up my iPhone and succumbed to the calling of ANGRY BIRDS.

I suggest you might try this:  Tape to your computer the question: ‘is this the most productive thing I could be doing right now?’  I mean, what could it hurt?  At the very least you might develop a new working habit. As for me, if I can finish this blog post before either Charlie or Lindsey get in trouble again it will be a miracle.  Bill Maher said it best the other night, and I have to paraphrase because I couldn’t find it on You Tube yet, though I did look at 20 other things: “Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan, you know you’re a mess when a train wreck stops to look at you!  ba dum dum.

Go try to be productive. As for me, I’ve got level 2 to get past and I better not see that friggin little red bird again.

The Scariest Hill On Earth

Ellsworth Road, just mentioning the vast peak out loud brings back adrenaline fueled thrills and nightmares from my youth. It was named after Connecticut’s own Oliver Ellsworth (one of the writers of the US Constitution.) and the state’s first US Senator. This hill, for it was just that, although in my kid eyes it was impossibly large one, and the only one around,  so it might as well have been Pike’s Peak.  We would ride our bikes down in the summer and sled down in the winter before the plows came.  The evil part of this hill was this:  though the top of the hill was the end of the road in the middle of the neighborhood, meaning there was hardly any traffic on it, at the bottom there was a cross street named Riggs. There was no stop sign as it crossed Ellsworth, so cars coming through the neighborhood just barreled on by.  Riding your bike at top speed down the hill, as you approached Riggs, you had a choice:  try to be sure nothing is coming and charge through or hit the brakes and be safe.

More than once I laid down rubber on my bad ass Stingray banana bike right before ending up as a hood ornament.  More than once, my heart jumped into my throat.  Most memorably, the time a tough older kid named Dennis made me ride down on a skateboard.  Me, lying facedown on my belly, my nose inches above the pavement, and him on my back.  That time I forgot about the traffic, wondering how I was going to explain to my mother how my face got ripped off on Ellsworth Road.  But, I somehow survived that descent and many others.

Chief among our games on Ellsworth was to see how far you could coast without pedaling after crossing the dreaded Riggs.  We’d station a kid on the corner to make sure we could race through the intersection without braking. Then the rule was no pedaling, whoever went the farthest won.  As I was thinking about this week’s post, I thought about this game once again.

Momentum.  It’s hard to get it going, and much harder to keep it going.  Especially without pedaling.  When things are going well, the wind hits your face, all you hear is the whoosh in your ears and all you feel is speed.  The farther you go, you slow down almost inperceptably by degrees.  Before you know it, you’re moving quite slowly and not long after you’ve stopped.

Careers are like this.  Especially freelance careers in media and entertainment.  When you have a success or a series of successes, it’s easy to think the rush will never stop and the pace will never lessen.  But it does.  It’s the nature of gravity, friction and distance.  I heard the motivational speaker Brian Tracy once say: “You can only coast in one direction.”  Oh, too true.  I never once coasted UP Ellsworth Road.

The idea is to keep pedaling, even when times are good.  Find ways to keep the momentum going, even when you think you’re going fast enough already.  This is difficult when you are in the heat of one project, to be thinking of the next one, but it’s absolutely necessary!  You have to keep pedaling!

In my career as an agent, I’ve had far too many clients come to me after years of constant work and say, “I used to have momentum, but now it’s slowing down.”  When I ask who they’ve been in contact with lately, they reply:  “I’ve been working for years, I haven’t had time to keep contacts up, so now I don’t really know anyone. I’ve been too busy.”

Do you see why you have to keep pedaling now?  It doesn’t matter whether you are just starting out or have been making money as an artist for 30 years.  You have to do the work of getting work constantly, everyday, and let’s be real, having a freelance job today only means you have to find one for tomorrow.

Here’s my challenge to you.  Make a list of everyone you know in the business.  Make a list of every producer, director, studio, gallery, ad agency that you want to get to know.  Don’t stop until you have reached 50 contacts on each list. Now, find a way to retain or regain contact with those you already know, and ways to make contact with those you want to know.  These lists are the bike. Now you need to pedal a little everyday.

I heard a while back that NASA is proposing to send a spaceship light years away. They are suggesting what is called a perpetual motion rocket engine to power the craft.  This engine will use small thrusts of fuel, fired at timed intervals.  A seconds long burst of thrust from a nuclear engine once every day.  The idea is that over time, all these short bursts add up and the ship is going very far and very fast. The ship never coasts, it’s propelling itself a little each day.

That is pretty much the concept I’m proposing to you.  A small burst of thrust everyday to create huge momentum to gain speed and distance for your career.  Start doing this today, because I can tell you from experience that if you stop pedaling on Ellsworth, you can only coast to halfway between Newport Avenue and Four Mile Road.

Time Keeps On Slippin, Slippin, Slippin……..

Back in the day, it seemed like there was plenty of time, extra time. So much time in fact I was constantly bored and made sure everyone around me knew it. Of course I was 15 at the time and I had trouble making people understand that not enough of the known universe was revolving around me. Alas , then I became an adult, and more and more responsibilities were added. My waking hours became horribly stretched and I began to long for boredom. I began to realize that not only did the universe not revolve around me, I seemed to be exhausted from hurtling through it aimlessly, barely avoiding black holes and bumping my head on the random asteroid.

Then something amazing happened. I did my first 20 hour day on a film set. Then another and another. I did years of this. Film production is like that, hours and hours and hours of work to get a project done The lines between waking and sleeping become so blurred that your whole life seems to be overtaken by the work directly in front of you. But, it made me realize just how far you can push yourself and just how much you can get done when forced to focus.

Those days are long behind me now. I’ve had regular office hours for the last 15 years. I get an awful lot done in my day, but I often wonder how I can squeeze a little more time out of the 24 hour cycle. I want to be more efficient (don’t we all,) so I decided to break it down to see where I could find more time.

According to the Julian calendar, We all have the same amount of time to begin with. 168 hours per week to be exact. Lets break it down: Take the necessities off the top.

• 40 hours typically goes to working a job. Office work, work at home, work from home, primary parent, taking care of a domicile. If you are a parent of kids under the age of 16 add another 20.
That’s 60.

• Add 8 hours of sleep per night, that’s 56 hours a week.
2 hours a day watching TV or reading, hobbies, 14 hours per week.
We’re up to 130.

• Time with your spouse out to dinner, movies, making love, fighting (yeah fighting counts), socializing with friends, average 7 hours per week.

• Exercise, 7 hours per week. We’re at 144.
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, 1.5 hours a day, that’s 10.5 per week.

The total of all this is: 154 hours.

There are 14 hours left. The question is: What can you do with 14 hours? The answer is a lot. Are you busy already? Sure you are, I know I am, but until I did the math, I didn’t realize that I have been wasting more than a full work day a week on…. I don’t know what.

These numbers will vary wildly from person to person. You have to sit down and add up your own time, but I guarantee that you will find as I did, that you have at least 14 extra hours of time per week to be moving your life forward in the direction YOU CHOOSE.

Here’s the great part. I gave you a stereotypical average of how the hours break down. These are not how YOUR hours break down. My kids are grown, so I spend a lot less time parenting. You may not have kids at home. You may not have a significant other right now. You may sleep 12 hours a day. That’s bad for you by the way, take a minimum of 3 hours off that and go to the gym for an hour, then use the rest to work on your actual dream life.

Being aware of your time is the first step. There’s no doubt that time management is hard. Personally, it’s my biggest challenge. I like the freedom of a “loose schedule,” but I know it doesn’t serve me well. For me, having a loose schedule is an invitation to putter about. An avoidance of the hard work of managing my life and pursuing the activities that will help me reach my goals and dreams.

There’s only one way to conquer it. Plan your time on a daily schedule. Especially hard if you’re a freelancer, but, that’s why a daily, not a weekly appraisal and schedule becomes necessary. It certainly can be done. A good amount of success is measured on your capacity to get things done. How much can you handle in a given amount of time.

You have to find the answer for your life. What I’ve tried to accomplish here, is to point out the amount of time we all have in common, and that there really may be extra time in your life that you didn’t know was there. Here’s my challenge to you this week: Sit down and write down how you spend your 168 hours a week in broad terms. Then refine it against your goals. Then, for one week, take ten minutes every morning and plan your day accordingly.

If you are not spending enough of that weekly time on working towards the goals and future you imagine you will see it in your daily schedule. You will also see ways to adjust.. I like zoning out in front of the TV as much as the next guy and often do it for too long, but I know that I can spend that time more productively. When I have a schedule, I better know when it’s time for leisure and time for work.

If nothing else, do this exercise for fun, just to see how you are spending your time. Once you have done that, perhaps you can redraw the 168 hours into a life that you feel suits you better. I’m not just talking about goals here either. Do you spend TOO MUCH time working? Do your kids, spouse, friends need more of you? Think about it. Nobody on their death bed ever said “I should have spent more time at the office.”

We are creatures of habit. I think we all agree, some of those habits really don’t serve us well. This exercise will help you find some of those negative habits and redirect them into positive habits.

“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.
-Benjamin Franklin