There Are a Limited Number of Ideas

So, What Makes One Better Than Another?

It’s less than two weeks until this year will be over. The end of one year and the start of another is often a time used for reflecting on the past and looking to the future. In last week’s post I referred to my working on goal setting and planning.

I made the process of reviewing and setting goals a part of my annual routine.

It’s on the calendar and done intentionally.

Another thing that coincides with this time of the year is inboxes being flooded with new and better ideas for goal setting and life planning. I currently know of 6-8 of these that have been bombarding my emails regularly and repeatedly. Most of them I have used or are familiar with.

One such plan is a course in Donald Miller’s Business Made Simple University called Hero on a Mission. This is a course that I went through years ago, before BMSU even existed. I still use parts of it in my current life planning system.

My friend and accountability partner Shep and I are going through the Hero on a Mission course together. Over the past several months we have gone through a variety of different types of courses and workshops. One discussion that continually comes up, regardless of the topic, is how they all seem to be the same thing.

So, what makes one better than another?

Why are there so many options if they are all so similar. And how can so many similar options be needed?

I think there are two basic reasons for all the different, yet similar options.

First, I compare it to reading the Bible. If you’ve ever read the Bible more than once, or even if you’ve just read select scriptures more than once, you probably experienced those same exact words having different meanings at different times.

I think this is just a matter of where we are in our lives when we read it. Different circumstances, problems, celebrations or experiences all contribute to seeing things from different perspectives.

This is one of the greatest things about the Bible and what makes it so timeless. It is always relevant yesterday, today and tomorrow.

I think goal setting and life planning is similar. It’s the same content over and over yet for whatever reason today it makes perfect sense. It has to do with where we are in our life journey.

The second thing is that we all connect differently. We could have heard something ten times before and then like magic it makes sense. We will not understand it when one person says it and then when heard from someone else…poof…it’s clear as can be. It comes down to who is presenting it.

There is a limited number of ideas.

When it comes to goal setting and life planning the most important part is to do something.

The Hero on a Mission would be a great place to start, but if this isn’t the right one for you, try something different. Or mix and match, using different parts from different plans, like I have.

Don’t just drift through life letting it happen to you. Knowing where you’re headed and what you want to accomplish. Take intentional action and have a great 2021

We Need to Be Intentional About This –

Who We Are and What We Do

We may never know what affect we have on those we encounter…good or bad. This is why it is so important to be aware and intentional about our actions.

There’s been a lot of love going around our church over the past couple of weeks. With October being Pastor Appreciation Month, there’s been many messages of thanks going in Pastor Lee’s direction. Simultaneously Pastor Lee has been sharing his appreciation of the congregation and the impact we have on each other.

This past Sunday he shared a letter written by one of the members of the church, sharing her story and the affect others in the church had on her life. More times than not, we have no idea of the impact we have on others.

We need to remember that every action has consequences…good or bad.

In Ephesians 2:8-10 we are told, “In Christ Jesus, God made us to do good works, which God planned in advance for us to live our lives doing.” This sounds pretty clear to me. God intends for us to do good, but we get to decide if we will do it or not.

We have control over our actions. We can choose what we will do and how we will do it. This starts with figuring out who God meant us to be. Then being intentional about living in that direction.

I think more time is wasted through drifting than anything else.

Intentional action and awareness of those actions are topics that have been prevalent in my thoughts lately as well as historically. As is evident with these previous posts: (links)

Everything we do affects not only ourselves but those around us. Choices can have huge consequences. Think about how your actions affect others.

We can’t control everything, but we can control ourselves.

Live your life intentionally in the way God intended.

How I Use Outlook to Be Better Organized

It’s All About Being Intentional

Getting organized and staying that way can be a real challenge. There are so many important things we need to do. Not to mention all the amazing things we want to do. It’s easy for the list to get so long we don’t even want to look at it.

A long list makes it hard to even know where to start.

But if we don’t write things down they’re less real and more easily forgotten. I use OneNote for keeping track of the things I need or want to do. A list is a great way to track and prioritize things.

The problem with a list is that it doesn’t block out allotted time.

This is where a calendar comes in. Whether digital or written a calendar allows you to block out a period of time for the things you’re going to do. This provides a visual restraint to an otherwise uncontrolled list.

The advantage to digital calendars is the reminders…written ones don’t do this very well. With most everyone having a smart phone in today’s world it’s much harder to forget things that need done. Digital calendars sync across a variety of devices which makes it much more difficult to forget something that’s scheduled.

This is where organization starts to get fun.

Let’s say you have a short list of 50 things to do. It’s up to you to prioritize them in the order that is relative to you and your situation. You know which ones you need or want to do first.

What if the most important thing on the list doesn’t need to be finished until the end of the day. But some of the less important things are connected to someone else’s list and they need them done first thing this morning. Or what if you are a member of a mastermind group that meets at the same time every week and that happens to be today at 11:00 AM.

How do you know what you’re going to do when?

 This is why I find my calendar to be such an important tool. I use my various lists in OneNote to prioritize. Then I look at my calendar. What things are already on there, scheduled appointments, recurring meetings, etc. With the open time left I plug in the most important things from my list. I fill the remainder of my day from beginning to end with things that I need or want to do.

This can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Fun and free time can be scheduled as easily as work.

Benefits of calendaring are:

  • It’s harder to make excuses to not do it, once it’s written on the calendar.
  • I take it more seriously; it becomes more real when it’s written on the calendar.
  • Big things become more manageable when they’re broken down into small sections of time and put on the calendar.
  • Seeing things that have been done when looking at the calendar provides a sense of accomplishment.
  • When there is a reminder that something else is starting in 30 minutes I stay more focused.

I never like to start something without being able to finish it. This makes it hard for me to stop when I’m in the middle of something. Having things scheduled tight on the calendar helps remind me that sometimes I just have to stop what I’m doing and come back to it later. It depends on it’s level of importance.

I’m more productive with a full calendar.

I push harder and focus better if I know there’s something else to do in 15 minutes. If there’s open time I take my foot off the accelerator. It’s how I get control of my life.

One of the greatest things about a digital calendar is the ability to easily move things around. Your calendar like your life is up to you. You can choose what you will do and when you’ll do it.

Just be flexibly rigid.

My go to calendar is Outlook because I love the way it connects with OneNote and syncs with my Motorola phone. Next week we’ll discuss how the Task List portion of Outlook completes this organizational system.

Writing It Down Makes It More Real

Checklist

You’ll Hit What You Aim at Every Time

You need a clear vision of where you want to go, or you will just drift through life going nowhere in particular.

In Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy’s book, Living Forward, they propose a plan for being intentional and stopping the drift. They say drifting usually happens for one or more of the following reasons:

  • We’re unaware – We simply don’t know what’s happening
  • We’re distracted – We aren’t focused on the goals
  • We’re overwhelmed – We take on more than we should
  • We’re deceived – We are often unconscious about our beliefs compared to reality

“If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” Zig Ziglar

The question of how to organize and plan has come up several times over the past several weeks. I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I wasn’t aware of how intentional I had become about avoiding the drift in my life.

A couple of weeks ago, I started the discussion about getting control of your life. Then I wrote about one of the tools I use for this. I had planned to go into another tool this week (maybe next week) but have decided instead to discuss more about the importance of intentional organization.

I’d forgotten how frustrating it was when I didn’t have a clear plan for where I wanted to go or how I was going to get there.

Most people don’t go to the level of detail with their scheduling as I do and that’s okay. What I’ve been trying to figure out is why many of these same people are frustrated and feel that their lives are out of control. Through several discussions I concluded all scheduling is basically the same.

The difference is in the level if intentionality. 

In Ray Edward’s podcast about starting an online business this week, he talks about the three things you must do in order to succeed while avoiding stress and overwhelm. These same things must be done to succeed in life as well.

  • Intention – Know what you want, why you want it, and have a plan for getting it.
  • Focus – Identify the essential activities for getting there and schedule them.
  • Margin – Give yourself time for rest, recreation and reflection.

This sounds a lot like how I schedule my life and my days.

There are studies that show when writing goals down they are more likely to be accomplished. The same thing is true when writing things down on task lists and calendars. You must decide what you want and then take the necessary actions if you are to accomplish it.

Writing things down keeps me accountable to myself.

Faith is Not for the Weak of Heart

You Have to be Intentional and Use It

Once again, this past Sunday technology wasn’t playing nice. The internet at the church did not want to cooperate. Life is full of things not going as we plan.

This morning my truck decided to be unagreeable and was not accelerating properly. My mechanic is only a few miles away, so I turned around and went to see him. When I got there, I found that he was closed. With a little checking I found that his family was headed to a wedding in Wyoming and won’t be back until Monday.

I have things to do, places to go, people to see.

This changed everything. At this point I had some decisions to make and I made them. First was to give this situation to God and believe that He would take care of this. Then, I went back home, made the necessary changes to my schedule, got some other transportation and continued moving forward. Then, as I was driving to town, I looked at the fuel gauge and it was on E. It was another faith moment…God this is in Your hands. I made it to the gas station before running out.

No this isn’t what I had planned for today, but most days don’t turn out like we plan. Life is full of unseen situations. Like the woman in Matthew 15:21-28, she was dealing with a daughter who was suffering. She was faced with choices just like us. She could live with it or she could be brave and take it to Jesus. This was not an easy thing for her because she was a Canaanite not a Jew.  

Her courage and faith made the difference.

Her daughter was made well. We can choose to put our trust in tools, equipment, technology, other people, etc. These things will let us down. We need to trust in God and believe that He will do what He says.

Have a brave heart and put your faith in God!

Mile Markers on the Way to Your Destination

It’s Important to Measure Your Progress as You Go

If you aren’t intentional about your actions, you will find yourself being distracted by shinny objects. This doesn’t mean that shiny things aren’t worth the distraction. What it does mean is…you lost your focus. Unless your mission for achieving your vision involves finding shiny objects…ignore it and focus on your destination.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve discussed how a Goal Prioritization System is similar to a GPS in your vehicle. If you put in the right information, it will help you reach your destination. How to determine your destination by opening your mind to big dreams and discovering what your purpose is. And then how to turn your dream into a clear vision.

Setting goals and taking action is the best way to reach your destination.

Just like taking a trip in your vehicle, you should always be aware of where you are in relation to where you are coming from and going to. You need to constantly be paying attention to your fuel level, where the fuel stops are, how fast you’re going, where the rest stops are located, etc. The same is true for traveling through life heading to your destination.

In the last post I shared my dreams for the future and the vision of where I plan to be in seven years. I’ve always been a big dreamer, but big dreams don’t happen without action. For me the next step is the hardest to implement.

Dreaming is a lot easier than doing.

Everything I do should be advancing me toward my dream destination. If not, then I shouldn’t do it. This is critical, but hard for me. By nature, I want to do it all. I need to be intentional about not chasing shiny.

To reach my vision it is going to require a lot of different pieces and specific measurements. For today’s example we’ll look at expanding my customer base.

In my vision I state:

…“reaching hundreds of thousands of people around the world”…

How are we going to expand our customer base from 32 to “hundreds of thousands of people” by the end of 2027? To do this, we need a plan with some ways to track the progress.

If we can increase the number by 200% each year, this can be accomplished. That seems like a pretty big number…and it is.

  • 2020 – 32 x 200% = 64 + 32 = 96
  • 2021 – 96 x 200% = 192 + 96 = 288
  • 2022 – 288 x 200% = 576 + 288 = 864
  • 2023 – 864 x 200% = 1,728 + 864 = 2,592
  • 2024 – 2,592 x 200% = 5,184 + 2,592 = 7,776
  • 2025 – 7,776 x 200% = 15,552 + 7,776 = 23,328
  • 2026 – 23,328 x 200% = 46,656 + 23,328 = 69,984
  • 2027 – 69,984 x 200% = 139,968 + 69,984 = 209,952

At first this looks impossible. If you stop and think about it…all it takes is for everyone to just bring 2 new people to the group.

That doesn’t seem so impossible.

Let’s break this down some more. If we’re going expand our customer base by 64 people by the end of 2020, we need to add 8 new people each month from now to the end of the year. Up to this point this process is still fun…for me.

What really makes this process the most difficult is that the customer base is just one small piece of the overall vision. In addition to the customers we need to have something to sell that they want to buy. We need to balance the physical construction projects with the development of products and services. We need to keep the invoicing done and the bills paid. And on and on…

If one thing isn’t working, it’s time to try something new. Don’t give up. It is easy to be overwhelmed when looking at the big picture. It’s no different than taking a big trip. You have a dream, you determine the destination, you map out the route…

But if you don’t go by some mile markers, you’re never going to get there.

How I Use My Calendar to be More Productive

Investing Your Time Intentionally Is the Key to Unlocking Productivity

There are as many different ways to use calendars as there are people. Not only that, but if you’re like me, the way we use them continues to change. Not to mention, that calendars themselves keep changing. They have gone from tracking days by scratching a mark in the wall of a cave to now being computerized.

Purpose driven people are constantly looking for ways to be more productive.

I don’t know if I’m going through a phase or if getting older is making me more aware of the limited time I have to spend. Either way my desire to be more productive is at an all-time high.

When scheduling things, it is important to be flexibly rigid. This is balancing the importance of planning with intentionality and the realization that life happens. Finding that balance is hard.

One of the benefits to a computer calendar is the ease with which things can be added, shared, moved or deleted…this is also a detriment. Over the past few years I realized that I was moving things on the calendar that I had scheduled with myself. I would schedule tasks for myself on the calendar and they would get pushed back and back and back again. Then I realized I wasn’t giving meetings with myself as much importance as those with others.

Then I realized the calendar is like any other tool. It doesn’t serve its purpose if it isn’t used properly.

The first thing with any tool is to determine what its purpose(s) is and use it accordingly.

  • Scheduling meetings – The most basic purpose of a calendar is for scheduling meetings. These may be recurring meeting or one-time meetings. Scheduling our tasks as meetings with ourselves and giving them equal importance is critical to productivity.

  • Reminder of things ahead – This could be meetings, events, actions, birthdays, anniversaries, etc.

  • Budgeting time – Similar to money a calendar can work like a budget for time. When you start filling out the calendar there is a limit to how much space there is. When it gets filled up, you’re going to need to stop trying to spend more.

  • Prioritizing what you spend time on – Once the calendar is full and there are still things to put on it, you must decide what goes on and what comes off. This calls for a time triage

Determine what works best for you and use your calendar accordingly.

Some days I would accomplish almost everything on my list and then there were days where it felt like I hadn’t achieved hardly anything. As I began to study why that was, it became apparent that the most productive days were the ones that I had packed the calendar full, from beginning to end, even little things. The days that were less productive had more unscheduled and open time. I realized that when my day was scheduled so full that I didn’t think I could get it all done, I was focused and did much better at staying on task.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been scheduling my calendar full, to the point of some days being scheduled tight without any open space. In doing this I have noticed that I have been consistently more productive. This doesn’t mean that everything gets done, just that I’ve been more productive.

There’s still a lot of room for improvement, but this seems to be working.

I still need to work on being wiser about what I spend my time on. There’s limited time so we all need to be good stewards of the time we’ve been given. Being productive requires intentional action. Productivity seems like a big monster, but we can take him out if we’ll just start implementing small steps in the right direction.

Lack of Quality, Honesty and Integrity

 

 

 

 

 

The Remainder of the Construction Complaint List

 

 

This is the fourth and final post in this series of building solutions on how to avoid construction project nightmares. Previously I wrote about the most common reasons construction projects fall apart. The next two posts dealt with the high cost of poor communication and what contractor communication should include. This week we’ll focus on the character portion of the list.


We’ve all have had experiences where things didn’t turn out like we had envisioned. This is true in everything, especially construction. Lower standards have become accepted and normal.


The low bar of expectation has become the construction industry standard.


I believe this to be attributed mainly to the focus on price. We should be conscious of what things cost, but when it is the determining factor above everything else, something will give. Most likely that will be quality and service.

 


The second factor is that we’ve become a fast-paced drive-through people. We expect everything to be instantaneous. The cost for this lightning fast speed is the same as price…quality and service.


Raising the bar is simple really.


It starts with an awareness of how low the bar is. It has been moving down in small increments for years. It’s happened so slowly that most don’t even realize how low it is. Raising it up will be a slow process as well.


The remainder of the list of reasons construction projects fall apart is as follows:

 

  • Poor quality
  • Cluttered and unorganized job site
  • Left hanging part way through an unfinished project
  • Lack of scheduling or poor time management

 

Quality, honesty and integrity cover this part of the list. These are character issues. They are about choosing to give as much importance to someone else’s needs as I do my own.

 


Quality – is the degree to which something is produced correctly. It can be somewhat subjective, but the higher the bar is raised, the higher the quality standard becomes.


Honesty – is moral character that is trustworthy, loyal, fair and sincere. It is absent of lying, cheating and stealing. Thomas Jefferson is attributed with having said, “Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.”


Integrity – is adherence to strong moral and ethical principles and values. One has integrity to the extent that they act according to the values, beliefs and principles they claim to hold.


Poor quality and a disorganized job site are part of the physical construction skill set. These things are skills that should be taught through apprenticeship and mentoring.


The same is true for lack of scheduling and poor time management. These things can be taught. Learning and applying these skills is more difficult, in that they are more directly connected to specific personality traits.


Leaving a job hanging partially finished, however is strictly a moral issue and unacceptable, short of some life altering emergency.


The entire issue of construction projects falling apart is unnecessary and unacceptable.

 


It doesn’t have to be this way!

 


You can choose what you want, it’s up to you. Learn more, expect more. Raise the bar as high as you can reach.

What Will People Say About Me at My Funeral?

 

How I Spend My Time Today Will Have an Effect on That

 

It seems there isn’t enough time to get everything done. I don’t know about you, but I’m constantly looking around for more. I think to myself, “If I just had a few more minutes, I could get this one more thing done.”


The problem with time isn’t how much there is, it’s what we spend it on.


We spend time as though it will last forever. Not so. We each have a limited amount here on earth and we need to be more intentional about how we spend it. Time isn’t like money, we can make more money, but we can’t make any more time. When it’s gone, it’s gone. We can’t ever get it back.


Are we being good stewards of the time we’ve been given?

 

In Max Lucado’s book, “The Eye of the Storm” he tells a story about two paddleboats leaving Memphis headed to New Orleans. “As they traveled side by side, sailors from one vessel made a few remarks about the snail’s pace of the other.


Words were exchanged. Challenges were made. And the race began. Competition became vicious as the two boats roared through the Deep South.


One boat began falling behind. Not enough fuel. There had been plenty of coal for the trip, but not enough for a race. As the boat dropped back, an enterprising young sailor took some of the ship’s cargo and tossed it into the ovens. When the sailors saw that the supplies burned as well as the coal, they fueled their boat with the material they had been assigned to transport. They ended up winning the race but burned their cargo. Their cargo was gone, and they couldn’t get it back.


They lost sight of their purpose along the way and in the end had wasted their trip. Don’t waste your trip by getting caught up in the unintentional rat race of life and in the end, not achieve your purpose.


To live the most productive life we need to “begin with the end in mind”. We need to look at the end of our lives, our funerals, and imagine what people will say about us. In Michael Hyatt’s blog post, “What Will They Say When You Are Dead?”, he lays out a plan for this.

It is common to race through life getting caught up in the unimportant peripheral tasks that don’t contribute directly to what our purpose is. You’ve heard it said that “time is money”. What is the real value of your time? Are you spending your time wisely?


Time is a commodity that can only be spent. You can’t add to it, only subtract.


Are you spending your time wisely?

How To Stop The Time Monster From Eating Up All Your Time

 

 

 

By Being Selfish and Not Letting It Have Any

 

 

The time monster will chew up our time if we let it. He gobbles it up as soon as it’s available and doesn’t leave anything but crumbs. This is one case when it’s okay not to share.


Don’t let the time monster have any of your time.


Last week’s solution was about ways the monster eats up your time. I concluded by pointing out that it’s up to me to manage my time, just like it’s up to you to manage yours. Let’s look at how we can get control of the time monster.


The first thing is to acknowledge that there is a monster. Pretending that he’s not out there won’t work. Closing your eyes and putting your hands over your ears doesn’t make the monster any less real. He’s out there and he likes the taste of time.


Next, we have to recognize it. Time monsters come in different sizes and shapes, see last week’s post. Each of our monsters are different. If you’re going to do battle with your monster you need to know what it looks like so that you can protect your time.


Once you recognize it and see how big it is, it’s natural to want to turn around and run. Don’t be overwhelmed by the size of the monster.


When dealing with a big hairy time monster the best weapon is a snowball.

 


The intentional, continuous, focus of small actions over time will bring the monster down. The process, known as the “snowball effect”, is the accumulation of small things upon small things until they become a big thing, like a snowball rolling down a hill.


The snowball effect works the same on time as it does on anything.


Small segments of time used wisely over and over add up to big savings. Saving a minute here and a few seconds there add up over time. If we save five minutes every hour, twelve times per day, we end up with an hour that the monster didn’t get. If you add that hour to another the next day and do that five times a week for a year the time saving snowball would be 260 hours. The monster is not going to like that.


We can’t imagine our little snowball having any effect on that big hairy time monster. At first it doesn’t appear that it does, but if we keep after it, it will. Those little wins add up. Being able to see each of these little wins give us an opportunity to celebrate. The more celebrating, the more winning, the more winning, the more celebrating.


This leads to another nice thing that happens when that snowball rolls downhill, it picks up momentum. This is another benefit of good time management. The better we get at spending time wisely the more wisely we spend time.

 

There are a lot of different ways to spend time and how you spend yours is up to you. The important thing here is to realize that you control the snowball. The only way to get control of our time monsters is to just do it.

 

 


If you take care of the minutes, the hours will take care of themselves.