We all start off our weeks believing we will be able to get to the things that are most important. Why then at the end of the week are we no closer to achieving what is most important to us?

Besides my relationship with God, there is nothing more important to me than my wife, Christa. Though she was so important to me, there was a time when I wasn’t being intentional enough in our relationship. I could sense a little tension between us. I realized something needed to change.

This is when I learned about the life planning process, and it had a tremendous impact on my life. In the life plan, you clearly articulate how you desire the most important areas of your life should look, what is your current reality, and how you are going to bridge the gap.

Here is what my current reality looked like years ago within my relationship with Christa.

Current Reality:
We are not regularly going on date nights.
I am not interested enough in what she is into.
We are hit or miss with connecting with one another.

Why was one of the most important things in my life was getting neglected? I have come to realize that these three things are needed to create space in your life for what is most important:

1. Define what is most important.

This is where it all has to begin. When you know what is most important, you also realize what is not.

I have written down the most important areas of my life plan which are: God, Christa, children, self, ministry, friends, finances, and health. For you, some of these areas may be the same. You may also have some that I do not depending on your marital status, age, job, etc.

2. Schedule it.

Knowing what is important was not enough. I knew Christa was important, but it wasn’t until it was scheduled that it showed. What gets scheduled will get accomplished, and what does not get scheduled will not.

What is most important should have priority and therefore should be scheduled first. As Stephen Covey says, “you have to put the big rocks in first.”

I keep a running document on what an ideal week looks like. I put what is important to me in the document. For actually scheduling I use google calendar.

3. Let key players in your life in on it.

You need to let the people who these changes will affect in on it. For me, this meant Christa and I got together to talk about and schedule what was most important.

This process helped Christa and I see some positive gains in our relationship with one another. Creating a life plan is one of the key things I work with when I am coaching. The reality is you will either plan your life, or life will plan it for you.

Today what is one area of your life you need to create space for?

While planning may not be the most exciting thing, it can bring amazing results.

Recently, I have asked a few leaders if they have planned for the first quarter of next year. So far, all of them have not been able to step away to do so. Just like us, their lives are incredibly busy.

Like you, these leaders want to thrive in the New Year. However, a plan helps us bridge the gap between where we are, to where we want to be. It lays out the necessary steps to reach our desired goals.

At the time of this writing, we are approaching the New Year, and there are unlimited possibilities. This can be the year that you chase your dreams, but you need to know how to get there. There are three plans that if you have and follow will help you succeed in the New Year. I was introduced to all these plans when I used the coaching services of Building Champions.

1. Life Plan:

I learned about life planning, and the rest of the plans, years ago and the results I have experienced have been amazing. I call a life plan a personal life blueprint because that is exactly what it is. It is a blueprint for the life you desire to live.

In a life plan, you decide what your most important priorities are. You then decide how you want that key area of your life to look like if it was exactly the way you want. Then you create a plan to get you from where you are, to where you want to be. I wrote a more detailed post here.

2. Business plan:

You don’t have to own a business in order to create a business plan. If you are leading a team, department, or want to start a business, then creating a business plan is for you.

In a business plan, you decide what you want to accomplish over the next year. Once you have your year goals in mind, you can then create a plan for each quarter that will help you reach your desired outcomes for the year. I wrote more about creating a business plan here.

3. Time plan:

I am not sure of a bigger productivity hack than to maximize your most valuable asset through creating a blueprint for your time. Time has a way of getting away from us because we have not laid out a concise plan for how you want to spend it.

In a time plan, you decide ahead of time how you will spend your week. Although this will not always work out perfectly, it will get you much closer than if you just winged it.

The time plan is set up to help you accomplish your predetermined goals in your life and business plan. I wrote more about this here.

These three plans have had a huge impact on my life and have become part of the framework I use to coach others. This next month, quarter or year can be amazing, but you need to decide what amazing looks like.

Take some time and create a plan for your life, business, and time; you will be glad you did.

There are those seasons of life that are incredibly busy. These seasons have the potential to chew us up and spit us out, but you can learn to thrive in them.

I am currently in an incredibly busy season of life. Just sitting here writing this post makes me think of the millions of other things I have to do. We have a large initiative at the church I lead; I’m preparing for outside speaking engagements, I am having some issues with an investment property, and more. I know that many of you reading this are just as busy as I am, if not more.

If I am not careful this busy season will really wear me out, and this has, in fact, happened to me in the past. Luckily, there is a better way.

One of the busiest seasons of my life was two years ago. I was completely overwhelmed. One day I was on the phone with my coach, and he really helped me put things into perspective. He essentially let me know that I may not be able to accomplish everything on my list, but I needed to ask myself what 3-5 things if done with excellence would be enough.

My desire is to help you navigate this season of overwhelm by doing a few necessary things.

1. Say yes to priorities.

You need to discover what your priorities are in this season. Take a moment to write down what the most important things are that need to be done.

One of my favorite books on the subject of priorities is Essentialism, by Greg McKeown. In that book Greg states, “If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.” I don’t believe that you want someone else choosing your priorities for you.

In order to help you decide your priorities, use the Steven Covey quadrant to help you decipher what is most important. Over time you will be able to do this without having to use the quadrant, as it will become second nature to you.

2. Say no to things that are not priorities.

When things are busy we can get tired and our decision-making skills will not be as sharp. During busy seasons you have to be especially careful about what you say yes to.

Your time is a limited commodity, as there are only so many hours in the day. Because of this, every time you say yes to one thing you are saying no to something else. So, by saying yes to one thing, you may be saying no to your family, sleep, or finances.

When you get a request from someone and you know it’s not a priority, you can simply tell them that in order to be faithful to prior commitments you have to say no. If it’s your boss, you may have to tell them that yes, you can do this, but then ask which other tasks they want you to give up.

3. Say yes to rest.

Many times you may sacrifice rest when times are busy. Do yourself a favor; say yes to a good night’s sleep. Now, this may look different for you than others but get enough sleep. If you get the adequate sleep you are less likely to be stressed, and people will want to be around you more. If you are like me, you get a little grumpier when you have not rested enough.

You may think that you get more done by working late into the night, but studies show that sleep deficit is a productivity killer. So, unless you are part of the sleepless elite, get a minimum of seven hours of sleep.

Give yourself a clear time of when you need to be in bed by, and don’t slowly let it slip.

By giving yourself some clarity on what should actually be done during this season, you give yourself the liberty to say no to the wrong things and yes to the right things. You will be less overwhelmed and stressed out, sleep better, and don’t neglect your family or health as much. If you do these things you can thrive during this season instead of simply surviving.

I know there are more tips that you can add to this conversation, and I would love to hear from you in the comments below.

 

How to Create a Weekly Rhythm

As leaders, we have aspirations to be incredibly productive every week. We come to work determined to get ahead and take care of what is most important. By the end of the week, many of us are left wondering why we didn’t get the results we were hoping for. So what is the secret to a successful week?

A few years back I struggled to stay on top of things, which kept me from getting ahead. I remember taking a self-evaluation test where I was asked to rate myself on how organized I was on a scale of 1–10. I gave myself a raving 3, only because I felt confident—confident my organizational skills needed a little attention.

This evaluation was given to me by Building Champions, whom I had hired for personal executive coaching. This was one of the best investments of my life. In the beginning stages, they had me create a life plan, which I have since renamed as my personal life blueprint. If you don’t have a personal life blueprint, I would encourage you to complete one of those first.

Once I became clear on what I wanted in my life, it was time to make it happen by scheduling it. Your desires will not become a reality unless you make time for them. If you really want to know how you spend your time, you can do a write-down for three days, listing how you spend every half hour. Yes, this is a grueling, yet eye-opening exercise. Building Champions has a time-blocking document you can use here.

[bctt tweet=”Your desires will not become a reality unless you make time for them.” username=”justinsetzer”]

Now it is time to create your desired time block, which I have renamed ‘desired weekly rhythm’. The weekly rhythm shows how you would spend your time if you could control it. While there are many unforeseen circumstances that can come up in a week, many weeks are normal.

The rhythm is broken up into thirty-minute segments, showing how you would spend your time in an ideal week. There are a few keys to creating a weekly rhythm that will help you get the most out of your week:

1. Plan your day’s theme.

The focus is important and having your day’s theme can be a huge boost to productivity. Instead of jumping from one unrelated task to another, you can get into the groove of working on one aspect of your job. You will notice that I have my theme listed at the top of the spreadsheet. The theme is my primary focus of the day.

2. Schedule your personal priorities.
• Them time: This is the time you have scheduled for your relationships. This should include time for dates with your spouse, time with your children, and friends.
• Renew time: These are the activities that renew you and keep you at peak performance. These could include your time with God, exercise, reading, outdoor activities, etc.

3. Schedule your high payoff activities.

These are the activities that Stephen Covey would place in quadrant II, as described in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. These activities will differ from person to person. High payoff activities may include vision casting, coaching your team, recruiting, managing sales relationships, top-level meetings, appointment setting, lead generation, etc.

4. Schedule the heavy lifting early in the week. 

If you don’t knock out the tougher aspects of your job early in the week, you will likely procrastinate with those tasks. If you are like me, it is better to get the hard projects done first.

5. Schedule time to work in the business and on the business.

• In-time is when you are working in the day-to-day operation of your organization when you are in the thick of things.
• On-time is when you walk away from working in the business to working on the business. This may include strategic planning, brainstorming, or working on a new initiative or product. In some settings, it can be easier to focus on working on the business at the end of the week when the other work is completed.

This process may take a few times to get down, but the return on investment is amazing. I have been able to free up an entire day of work per week for on-time.

More importantly, my family and priorities are not being neglected. It is an incredible feeling to know that you are spending time on the things that matter most, and still being productive in your organization.

If you are looking for further help. creating a weekly blueprint for your life is one of the steps I take my coaching clients through, Do yourself a favor and schedule a few hours to make a weekly rhythm. You can download a template here.

How would following a weekly rhythm be beneficial for you?

A Free Guide on How to Empower Others and Focus on Your Priorities

If you believe in your organization or cause, you probably want to reach more people. However, there is one issue; as individuals, we are limited in how much we can accomplish alone. In the midst of our day-to-day activities, we get stuck doing things that are not our highest payoff activity.

It was in a season where I was wanting to move forward the mission of the church I lead that I created “Discovering the Process of Delegation.” I wrote it for both me and my team. Seasons of frustration can result in a season of innovation. Most of the good content out there on any subject came from the writer’s struggle with a topic or situation, which was precisely the case with this eBook.DelegationCover3

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There I was, wanting to move forward so badly, but instead, I was getting caught up doing activities that would be better suited for someone else. I have a real tension to manage though; most of the work at the organization I lead is done by volunteers. So I can’t just dump what I don’t want to do onto them, simply because it is not fair. For this reason, I believe we should delegate tasks to others according to their passions and skills.

What I was lacking was a clear process to get the results I desired. So, I created it in this eBook with accompanying worksheets. “Discovering the Process of Delegation” is not only a short eBook, but it also includes step-by-step instructions to help you empower those around you. Yes, although you may have attempted to delegate before and possibly failed, the issue is that you may not have delegated correctly.

“Discovering the Process of Delegation” will help you:
* Understand the principles of delegation
* Know the rules for effective delegation
* Empower your team
* Decide who the person to delegate to is
* Discover your highest payoff activities

I have included two worksheets that will help you track a path of effective delegation. I seriously believe that the results you can get from following the steps laid out in this eBook can transform your organization.

In exchange for the book, all that I ask is that you subscribe to my email list. This will help you stay up to date with the best content I create. I would also love your feedback on the book.

 

 

The one hour a week that can change your life

We are all given 168 hours a week. I believe that there is one hour that will help you stay on top of a busy life.

Many times I’ve had an experience at the beach that reminds me of how my life was going. I am enjoying myself in the water, bar the occasional splash of saltwater in the mouth. After an hour or so, I look up to see my stuff on the beach and realize I have drifted far away from my belongings.

My life for many years felt like this experience at the beach. The current of life was constantly trying to pull me away from things that are important to me. This has changed since I became intentional in the areas of my life that matter most.

I learned about the Life Planning process. This process that ultimately changed my life was picked up from Michael Hyatt and Building Champions. After learning the process, I created what I call your Personal Life Blueprint. You can learn more about creating a blueprint in this post. Once I knew what was most important, I implemented a weekly review to stay on top of those areas.

In the weekly review, you take about an hour out of the hustle and bustle of your life to look up and ensure you are not drifting away from what is important. The system I use is an adaptation of the Getting Things Done method from David Allen. Here are the steps I go through during my weekly review:
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1. Read your blueprint.
Once you have created your blueprint, review it every week to help you reach the goals you have set. Reading about what is important to you will help you from drifting too far from your goals. This built-in accountability will go a long way.

2. Process all emails and get my inbox to zero.
Emails are like weeds. If you don’t stay on top of them, they will get out of control. During the weekly review, you decide what to do with each email.
• Respond immediately if it takes less than two minutes
• Put in a respond-later file
• Delegate the needed action from the email
• Delete

3. Review other digital messaging outlets.
Check other accounts for outstanding tasks/items including:
• Social media
• Work Instant Messengers
• Software- CRM or other management systems

4. Process any loose paper.
File or process all loose paper including:
• Notes in Evernote- are they tagged properly so I can find them later?
• Receipts- tag or process
• Paper inbox (file any papers that have made it to my paper inbox throughout the week).

5. Go over previous week’s calendar.
Make sure you didn’t overlook something, such as a task assigned to you from a meeting. You may realize there is something you have to follow up on in the near future. You may be reminded of a thank-you note you want to write.

6. Look at the upcoming week’s calendar.
Make sure you are ready or will be ready for upcoming projects or meetings. Ask yourself what are the three to five things that must be accomplished this week?
If you are married, go over the calendar with your spouse. Once you are finished with it, make sure to ask yourself the question, “Have I scheduled the most important things in my life?”

7. Review and add to task/project list.
I use Nozbe to help me with my tasks and projects. There are many other project management software programs such as Asana, Trello, and Basecamp. The goal is to find a system or software that you enjoy.

Whatever task manager you use, I encourage you to set up a template for your tasks that are recurring. This will help you from having to reinvent the wheel every week.

This one hour (or less) weekly investment has changed my life and paid more than its fair share of dividends. I am more prepared every week than I ever was before and able to stay on top of a busy life. The more important areas of my life are getting the attention they deserve, and everyone around me is benefiting.
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Action Step: What one hour a week works best for you to do a weekly review? What else would be beneficial to add to your weekly review?

Photo Courtesy of Adobe Stock

 

 Creating a Personal Life Blueprint

Someone once said, “Everyone ends up somewhere, but few people end up there on purpose.” This does not have to be the case.

In 2013, I found myself at a challenging point in my life. From the outside things looked picture perfect. I had a great wife, I was leading a church, and I was a foster parent, but I knew something was missing. Internally, I had a lack of peace about how I was leading, and it bothered me greatly. Most of us avoid discomfort, and it was the pain I experienced that drove me to make serious changes.

First, I did what I knew God wanted me to do– pray. Then, I did what I felt God leading me to do. King Solomon said, “Unless the LORD builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted.”  I believe all planning in your life must begin with Him; prayer and planning should always go hand-in-hand.

For months I searched for a personal coach, and I finally found him through Ministry Coaching International (MCI), a part of the Building Champions family.  I expected him to start with some amazing plan to turn around the ministry I was leading. That was not the plan. He wanted to begin with self-leadership, and he introduced me to the life planning process, which I call the Personal Life Blueprint.

There are many ways one can create a life plan, but here are five ways that have worked for me and thousands of others:

  1. Take a day off. Yes, you need a day away from the busyness and distractions of this world. Creating a life blueprint is a very personal thing, so I encourage you to be alone for a bit. Some people can afford to stay at a hotel to make their plan, but there are many other free options that will work. Go to a park, library, or coffee shop. I encourage you to find a place where you can pray and reflect without being interrupted as you go through this process.
  2. Figure out your priorities. You have to decide what the most important things in your life are. List them in descending order of importance. Each of these priority accounts will have their own sections where you will define them further. God is my number one priority account, and I believe it should be the same for everyone. Some other suggestions are a spouse, children, self, work, church, education, health, friends, and finances.
  3. Make an account for each priority. Each account will describe where you want to be, have a purpose statement, include a scripture, state where you currently are and list goals to get you from where you are to where you want to be. The screenshot below describes each subheading under the account:

Personal Life Blueprint Account Heading Description

Here is an example of a completed health account.

health account blueprint

 

  1. Schedule those priorities. Since your goals are S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound), you should be able to insert them into your calendar. Whatever calendar you use, start by placing what is most important. If you are married, you should go over your calendar with your spouse.
  2. Review weekly. There should be some method to make sure you are staying on top of what is most important. This is where the weekly review comes in. There are many things that can be done as you prepare for the upcoming week, but reviewing your Personal Life Blueprint and calendar is a must. I have written a more detailed post on the weekly review.

This may seem a little overwhelming at first; I know it was for me. However, I can’t say enough about how my life has changed for the better since I implemented this process. I have improved personally and at leading my family and church because I decided to be a better steward of the time God has given me.

If you are looking for greater accountability, I have a few one-on-one coaching spots open. Creating a life plan, business plan, and weekly rhythm are a few of the key things we will work on.

Action Step: Take out your calendar and see when you can schedule some time off to create your Personal Life Blueprint. What is the day and time that works for you?

Photo Courtesy of Adobe Stock