clock, compass, time, management, productivity

Clock vs. Compass: Which is Really Better?

We are using the wrong instrument to manage our time.  The clock by default is used daily.  It’s an unforgiving instrument that has limitations and consequences.  Only 24 hours exist in each day, no more no less.  You can only have 24 and you may not allocate more time.  Once the hour has passed its gone.  Punching the clock everyday has you focused on working harder, smarter and faster but gets you know where.  At the end of each day you will have raced against time while running on a treadmill.  Sound Familiar?

Ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Am I giving the time to the things that matter most in my life?
  2. Is my life meaningful?
  3. Am I achieving and making progress towards what I want?
  4. Do you feel challenged daily, torn between demands and decision making.

The compass is the instrument that is most effective in life.  It teaches us to live, love, learn, and leave a legacy.  It points to the direction we should focus our lives, true north, and this is where you can find value and your principles.

I received a wake-up call when life felt like a crisis and it was, realizing that I wasn’t doing what was important.  I was focused on commitments and schedules rather than relationships and value.  I searched for all the shortcuts.  Attempted to become more efficient so I could allocate more time elsewhere.  What I received was more tasks and the same amount of time to complete them, adding quantity over quality, tediously minute managing the day.  It was effecting my performance, my team, relationships, home and goals.  I was at the point of exhaustion,  not wanting to get out of bed in the morning and passing out at the first moment I could sit and relax.  Trying every technique and tool I could find.  I used digital calendars, syncing to every device I owned with

I was at the point of exhaustion,  not wanting to get out of bed in the morning and passing out at the first moment I could sit and relax.  Trying every technique and tool I could find.  I used digital calendars, syncing to every device I owned with pop up reminders, created task list, mimic the scheduling techniques of men like Benjamin Franklin and Teddy Roosevelt.  After trying a few smart phone apps, Eternity Time Log was helpful by showing me where I was spending time but ineffective at managing it.  Crisis mode hit, I was destructing relationships and I wasn’t a pleasant person, I felt torn after being placed in a torture rack.  I sat down and examined my life.  I analyzed the things that I valued that were important to me for example, Family, Spirituality, Self-development, Profession.  I mapped out my goals related to those values and how they may be connected to one another and defined my focus.  The problem was that my vision was fuzzy.  I was focused on the circle of influence and concern rather than me and what I could effectively control.  Noticing  I had two visions, the near term and the long term.  I began to bring the two closer and inter-connect them.  This reduced the sense of urgency with careful planning and weekly goal setting.  Each week I began to analyze the past week, its success and failures.

Then asking myself these questions while goal setting for the next week.

  1. What do I want?
  2. Why do I want it?
  3. How am I going to get it?
  4. Does it fall in line with my principles and values?

Asking yourself these questions puts yourself in touch with your values.  It gives your decisions integrity and satisfaction that you made the right choices based on your principles.  If you begin to rationalize with yourself and make excuses about the decisions you make, then you need to stop yourself and start over, your not using your moral compass that points you into making the right choices for the right reasons.  Each day is a battle against urgency and people pleasing addiction this is like crack for drug users.  You have to consciously put yourself into focus each day.

My morning routine looks like this.

A smart phone app called Lift, is a fun tool to keep you motivated.  I find it best to treat habit building like a game. 

  1. Wake up early
  2. Eat Breakfast
  3. 10 minutes to de-clutter and get organized (helps keep your focus)
  4. Set my priorities for the day (must be steps to accomplish my weekly goals)
  5. Block time for my priorities where it fits best and will be most productive
  6. No email or social media until after lunch (21st century addictions that destroy lives)

After a while you’ll begin to become flexible and agile in all your different roles in life, providing value.  You will begin seeing ordinary results turn into extraordinary results.  You will not break but bend and react quickly to things becoming adaptable.  You’ll stop worrying about who is right or wrong or what others are thinking.  You will begin doing what works for you and become your authentic self, feeling happy, peaceful, secure, balanced and purposeful.  Recognize your obsession with time and find your passions.

The compass is the instrument of choice, so put down the clock and add quality and peace to your life.  Every person can get extraordinary results by using your internal compass.  Evaluate your life, find your focus and act upon those things that align with your values and principles.  Be courageous and leave the rest of the herd before they run off the cliff.

Whats your worst quality?

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  • I like your analogy of clock vs. compass. The Bible encourages one to redeem their time. Your idea of a compass sounds like a way to make sure that you do just that.

    • Your compass is your tool to keep you moving in the right direction. Some use a mission statement to do this as well.

  • Good pos!. For “Asking myself these questions while goal setting for the next week.” 1, 2 and 4 are easy. It’s three that is difficult. I need to get the answer to #3. 🙂

    • Hi Pat,

      Thanks for leaving a comment. It is tough to decide how to get something. Especially if you are starting out or at a cross-roads. You may not have the resources, time, connections or even finances. But I caution this type of thinking because we do have all these things. We just might not be looking in the right places. We have it within us and all-around us. The resources are there, you just have to be willing to ask or receive them.

  • What I have the most trouble with, or my “worst quality,” is getting back on track after I take a break. From 5:30 till noon I can be extremely productive, but once I take a lunch break and relax for a bit I feel like my attention is shot for the rest of the day. I imagine asking myself these questions could really help get back on track though.

    • Thanks for the comment and reading the blog Nathaniel. I hope you got some great info and the questions are helping you get back on track. I find myself in a similar situation after having weeks of success, then I find myself binging on relaxation. I find the saying that every failure is a stepping stone to success quite appropriate in this situation. Analysis and try again. This is why I like the weekly goals. I can go back to past weeks and see what works and whats not. Keeping a record can be a useful tool to see trends.

  • I enjoy reading your posts. I totally agree with leaving social media till later in the day. It can be a time-waster and we often do not realize that. It is good to prioritize and bring oneself to focus constantly. I find myself multi-tasking too much and forgetting things and focusing on unimportant stuff many times.

    One comment on attracting readers to your good posts is to choose a simple and easily understood title that draws attention without guessing what this post might be. Breaking long paragraphs helps too. Your good site should not be gone unnoticed. Great work!

    • Thank you I appreciate the great compliment and the helpful tidbits. I’m glad that I could bring some enjoyment to your blog surfing.

      I found social media the biggest time waster and stopped have been making advances toward not multitasking. I’m finding greater enjoyment in focusing on doing just one thing and getting greater results doing that. On the social media side, I’m using it as a tool to leverage my sphere of influence. Believe it or not when I used the app Eternity Time Log, I found that 20% of my day or more was on social media. When you cut that down to about 1-2% you find your relationships and what you have time for multiplies. In order to do this I had to turn off every notification on every type of media I owned so I wouldn’t be distracted, forcing myself to only check social media if I had extra time after I finished my email and my inbox was zero. I only check email 3x per day, after lunch, late afternoon and evening. Quality and productivity are jumping by leaps and bounds, most importantly my relationships are much better.

      Thanks again for supporting the blog. I look forward to future discussions.