It is amazing how quickly a to-do list can pile up.
Have you seen that bit of dastardly magic happen in your life? You start the week with three priority-related tasks; by Monday night, you haven’t completed any of the original tasks and, somehow, your to-do list has more than quadrupled. You didn’t sleep the day away. You were actually working. So why isn’t the list shorter?
Enter Elizabeth Grace Saunders.
The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment may be the answers to your time-/work-related prayers. As a time management coach, Saunders is the founder and CEO of Real Life E, a time-coaching company that strives to empower their clients through a “schedule makeover” coaching process and various training programs. With a list of clients to back up her claims, Saunders’s method is straightforward and seemingly very helpful.
Throughout her book, Saunders provides “mental shifts” to help readers adjust their thoughts in a direction that will foster productivity, confidence, and positivity. She also includes action steps to move progress forward and journal exercises at the end of each chapter to give the reader the opportunity to meditate on the various crucial points.
Saunders addresses the importance of time investment, goes over the kinds of crippling emotions that stall productivity, and provides a series of mental exercises meant to empower and build confidence in the reader. She provides both “key mental shifts” and “essential actions steps” to combat and overcome emotions that can hold us back. For example, regarding the emotion “overwhelm,” one of the action steps is “allocate time carefully.” In this step, Saunders explains that the reader should not just determine what they need to do but also determine how much time to allot for each to-do item. One of the key mental shifts for “overwhelm” is:
Harmful thought: “I must do whatever it takes to keep up with my environment.”
Helpful thought: “I can choose to modify my environment and my response to my environment so that I feel comfortable with the pace and quantity of what is asked of me.”
This breakdown is helpful, but the so-called secrets alluded to in the title are the real meat of the book. Simply put, the three secrets are:
1) Clarify action-based priorities
2) Set realistic expectations
3) Strengthen simple routines.
These may seem rather straightforward, and there may be a few people who believe that those three lines are enough to give them the tools to implement effective time management. Do not be fooled. Saunders delivers these simple statements and then elaborates on their importance and how to successfully implement them. She also addresses potential roadblocks to the implementation of each step.
Saunders does a great job of looking at routines. She provides a step-by-step guide to developing your own set of simple routines. This section also includes references and notes to available templates on her blog, such as her “Simple Project Plan Template.” She also recommends other sites that can help, such as Harvest (www.getharvest.com), iDoneThis (www.idonethis.com), and Basecamp (www.basecamp.com).
Perhaps it was timing or perhaps it is because I love resources that help me get my life more organized and productive — but regardless of what it was, I absolutely loved The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment. Although I have not yet taken the time to completely implement the book, I did actively participate in the exercises and journaling throughout my read. I am already planning on rereading the book more slowly and starting to implement the steps. I have recommended it to almost everyone I know who could potentially benefit from it — and that is basically everyone I know.
The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment
McGraw-Hill, December, 2012
Hardcover, 256 pages