I knew I would love The Motivation Manifesto by Brendon Burchard. But I didn’t expect to find it almost spiritual, with its beautifully written words and inspiring messages. Chapter Two’s “We Shall Reclaim our Agenda” is no exception. He tackles a biggie—time management—which is something many struggle with, especially those trying to create a life with purpose and intention.
Chapter Two begins: “Human nature steers us toward self-reliance and freedom. Nothing burns more fiercely in our souls than the desire to be ourselves and pursue our dreams. And so the great joys in life come when we are spontaneous and authentic each day while engaging in activities that we care about. And the great miseries of life come when too many days stack up where we are conforming and posing while doing things we have no passion for.”
Wow! I can relate. And I wonder how do I get off track so easily, and more importantly, if it’s possible to get back on track quickly? To answer this question, Brendon discusses Strivers versus Stragglers in his video, and, if I’m honest, I see myself bouncing between the two.
A Striver has a clear purpose, knows where he or she is heading, and makes a conscious effort every day to move in the direction of his or her goals. A Straggler is in reaction mode much of the time. Easily distracted by mindless interruptions—including the phone and email—or the squeaky wheel in their life, whose complaint is not important or urgent just painfully loud and persistent.
So exactly how can you reclaim your agenda? The first step is to really get in touch with who you are and what you see your purpose as. There are wonderful prompts in The Motivation Manifesto to help you mine the jewels in your own desires and dreams. Once you know your purpose, it’s easier to set today’s agenda and to protect it.
If you don’t (think you) have a second to even daydream about your life’s mission, there are two ways to recapture some time for yourself and get back on track easily:
- Don’t check email within the first hour of your day. I was so relieved to hear this! I’ve noticed that when I address email first thing there’s a greater likelihood that my day will start off on the wrong foot. I chalked this up to not being a morning person, but it’s much more than that.
Brendon explains that your email box is actually filled with everyone else’s agendas, not yours. Without a daily plan, you can spend the day extremely busy, solving everyone’s problems and moving everyone’s agenda forward except your own. In case you’re skeptical or wondering how you’ll get everything done if you don’t start the day with email, the High Performance Academy, Brendon’s company, has done studies which show that the people who make the most of that first hour—the strivers—are 30% more productive during the week. The strugglers are 30% less productive during the week. That’s a huge gap.
Instead, take that hour to plan your day, read something inspirational, eat a healthy breakfast, exercise, meditate, or pray. Anything that feeds your soul or supports you is a great choice.
- Identify two blocks of time in your day when you will get your work done and move your agenda forward. The idea is that you let nothing interrupt you during these periods of time. Your entire focus is on the task at hand—no answering phone calls or emails, etc. I first learned this concept of “Power Hours” from Tammy Daum, a very organized and effective person and coach.
A power hour is not meant to be a huge block of time. Usually 45-90 minutes is ideal, and during that time you only focus on the task at hand. It’s important to prepare in advance, to have everything you’ll need at arms’ distance, otherwise it’s easy to get distracted.
If you’ve never tried this, I really encourage it! I use it both for an important, enjoyable project and for tasks that I’d rather avoid, like preparing my tax return. I find I’m extremely efficient because I’m more mindful. Knowing I have a finite amount of time creates urgency and focus, and a light at the end of the tunnel!
In a time when our world is full of mindless distractions, these suggestions can be powerful allies. The Motivation Manifesto is a wonderful partner, too, for anyone who wants a vital, energized, and purposeful life. I encourage you to read it, think on it, and write your own manifesto.