© Gaye Wilson, 2009

questionGetting everything done isn’t easy when life gets in the way. You have shopping to do, paid work to do, the kids to take to sport, an essay due at university, the washing, the cooking, the ironing, catching the train … the list just goes on and on.

So how do you cope? How do you get everything done properly and on time?

By asking yourself one simple question:

What is the best use of my time right now?

I call it the BUT question.

This one question will guide you to victory. You can apply it to everything:

  • Whether to do this task or that one
  • Whether to make this choice or that one
  • Whether to eat, socialise, work, relax, exercise, sleep, clean up, see the doctor, outsource … you name it.

I have a client at the moment who is in the last stages of writing his PhD thesis. He hired me to get the formatting of the document right. This was a good move, because it freed him up to concentrate on the writing.

But he’s not writing. Although he has outsourced part of the job (the formatting), he’s still obsessing about the part he outsourced (yes – the formatting). He seems to be spending more time on how the final product is going to look than he is on the content of the final product. That’s fine, and every PhD candidate needs to obsess about both the content and the presentation.

But what this person is doing is the equivalent of having a dog and barking too.

He’s already outsourced the formatting. So why is he obsessing about whether the document should be double spaced or not? That’s my job. He hired me to format the document so that it looks outstanding and gives a professional, jaw-dropping first impression to the examiners. I’ve already given him my best professional advice, but he’s still vacillating.

He needs to ask himself what is the best use of his time: either cancel his contract with me to do part of the job; or allow me to do the job he hired me for, and get on with the actual meat of the project himself.

That’s what I mean when I say, what is the best use of your time right now? What is the one thing you can do that will have a positive impact on your project or your goal or your life right now?

Not next week.

Not tomorrow.

Not after lunch.

NOW.

If you get into the habit of asking yourself that question throughout your day, you will become much more productive, efficient and accomplished than you are now.

Try it. You’ll be surprised at the results.

where© Gaye Wilson, 2009

This blog talks about ways to win your victory, but so far it hasn’t talked about what your victory is.

What is your victory?

It is your goal, your desire, your dream, your fantasy. It’s what you want in life. It’s what you want to do or accomplish. It’s your current project. It’s what motivates you to get up in the morning. It’s that thing you’ve always wanted since you were a child.

It’s your reason for being.

Everyone has goals. Everyone has dreams. And everyone has projects. All of them are different, but all have a desired end result.

That’s your victory. Your desired end result.

So what is your desired end result? Do you want to lose weight? Learn a language? Complete a doctorate? Or do you simply want to clean up your garage or start a garden?

In order to win your victory, you first need to know what that victory will look like. How will you recognise it when you achieve it? What exactly is it that you want? What specifically is your desired result?

Once you know that, you also need to know how you will accomplish it. This means thinking about the steps you need to take. Break it down into doable actions. Think the process through, walk through it in your mind, on paper, with others, or using a project management program. Try not to miss any vital steps.

With your list of actions in hand, you can then set about completing those actions.

One last thing. You probably need to put a timeframe on it. I say probably, because not all victories are timebound. You might want to be happy – how does one put a timeframe on that?

So then what? You do it! And when you’ve completed all the tasks on your list of actions, voila! There’s your victory.

tcsbookI discuss plans and action strategies further in my chapter of Top Coaches Share Their Personal Action Strategies. You might like to click on the link and check out the book.

So, what’s your victory, and how do you plan to achieve it?

writingLots of people have to write for their work or study. Lots of people also have trouble writing. Here are some ideas that my coaching clients have used successfully to get themselves writing consistently.

Writing ideas

When you don’t know what you want to say, make an outline.

  • Write, in point form, the main ideas you want to talk about.
  • Flesh out each point.
  • Use a note taking program such as Turbo Note or Jot Plus, or a mind map program, or even index cards, to write out your points, and then move them around so that the argument makes sense.
  • Take one point and write as much as you can about it, then take a break, and pick another point and do the same.

When nothing is coming – i.e. you forget what you want to say, you can’t think of anything to say, the blank screen mirrors your blank mind – there are several things you can do:

Audio

  • Talk to a friend. Record what you say. Get the friend to ask questions that will elicit more information.
  • Get an audio recorder and talk about your topic. Then make a transcript, and use that as your first draft.

Visual
Make a mind map. Take a large sheet of paper, and draw your theme. Stick it up on your wall.

Timing
Commit to a ridiculously small amount of time per day, yes, per day, to write. Say eight minutes. Commit to writing eight minutes each day. The eight minutes can be spread out over the day, but you must write for eight minutes (or whatever time you pick). When you have done it, you then have a choice: to either keep going, or knock off for the day.

This technique sounds silly, but it works. My clients often have trouble even committing to eight minutes a day, but within a week they find that they are writing for far more than eight minutes.

Figure out the best time of the day for your writing. We all have different rhythms. Some people write best at 5am. Some people write best at 3pm. Experiment with the times you attempt to write. You will probably find that one time of the day is better for your creative flow than others. I have found that I write better blog posts early in the morning, and they flow easier than if I try to write them after lunch.

Editing

When you are editing something you have already written, try some of these:

  • Read it out loud. If it doesn’t flow, your ears will hear it.
  • Take it one sentence at a time.
  • Check that the first sentence of each paragraph actually talks about what the paragraph is about.
  • Ask yourself if each paragraph flows from the one before it.

Concentrate on one thing to edit at a time, e.g.

  • Are all the tenses in the paragraph the same?
  • Do you have periods at the end of each sentence?
  • Does each sentence make sense and flow on from the previous one?
  • Is there a better word that you could use?

If you’re having trouble writing or editing your work, email me.

If you have other techniques that have worked for you, please leave a comment.

© Gaye Wilson 2009