In the first installment, I talked to you about my vision statement and how that translates to my planner and task lists. In the second installment, I talked to you about what I do to maintain my energy and focus. In this final installment, I’m going to share with you a book that changed my life, a philosophy that changed how I work, and a way of life that changed everything.
My favorite recommendation is to outsource anything you can, because “you will never miss the money, but you will always miss the time.” I used to bath my dogs and clip their nails. I now let a professional do it. I don’t miss the money, and I love having more time for their training and exercise.
“Chapter 5: Get Real About What You Want” and “Chapter 6: What Will It Really Take To Support Your Priorities” are great at helping you examine your priorities and figure out how to get those priorities at the forefront of your schedule.
For me though, “Chapter 9: I Can, Therefore I’ts Asked of Me, or (Worse) I Volunteer” was a game changer. As a two on the Enneagram, my first instinct is always to say yes or volunteer, but this chapter got me thinking about how helpful I really was if I resented it later, because it derailed my schedule.
W. Edwards Deming
Often referred to as the Father of the Quality Revolution, the books and videos of W. Edwards Deming changed my approach to interacting with people and my approach to the way I work.
First, he taught me that everyone has to know why their work is important. That includes me. If I don’t know why my work is important and if that work isn’t consistent with my values, I won’t have the commitment to stick with it when times are tough.
Second, he taught me that when things go wrong, look to the process and not the people. When you trouble shoot a problem from the perspective of the process, everyone leaves behind the need to CYA (cover your a…) and focuses on what we needs to be done to ensure the problem doesn’t happen again.
“If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.”
Finally, he taught me that there is no replacement for education. We should always be learning and trying to improve not because we aren’t good enough but because as human beings we grow or we die. I choose growth.
How does this relate to getting things done? When I review my goals and what I haven’t accomplished, I don’t beat myself up. I examine what went wrong just like I would a work process and determine what I can do better next time.
Sometimes, I drop the goal, because I realize I’m doing it because I should and not because it’s really something valuable and important to me. Sometimes, I adjust my daily goals/tasks to something more realistic. Whatever I do, the focus isn’t on blame; the focus is on improving the process.
There are a lot of people promoting minimalism and methods to declutter. I personally love the Minimalists, because their focus is on creating a life of joy focused on improving the quality of your relationships, which is 100% in line with my Franciscan Christianity.
They’re authentic and down-to-earth. They have stories similar to so many Americans, finding themselves running a rat race to buy more and more without finding any happiness. They have several books and a podcast, but if you’ve never heard of them, start with the documentary
I hope that you’ve found something in this series to help you improve your quality of life. I’m working on improving my winter fitness habits. What are you working on?