Your opportunity is time, allocated wisely.

In meditation this morning, I asked The Universe to show me the opportunities I needed to make our goals a reality. The Universe’s response* was “Your opportunity is time, allocated wisely.”

This reminded me of a meme I saw four or five years ago:

 

That realization was the catalyst that started me on my quest for optimal time management. Because if Beyoncé could figure out how to become Beyoncé with only 24 hours in every day, then I could certainly figure out how to become Danielle.

Since then, people have asked me things like, “Do you ever sleep?” and “I feel like you’re a rush of activity, but you also seem to have so much leisure time. What?”

Friends, I get 8 – 9 hours of restful sleep every night. I meditate almost daily. I dork around on Facebook for 1 or 2 hours every day. Russ and I have dinner together almost every night, and watch between 3 and 4 hours of television every night. And yet I also lead a small company called Outlaw Soaps, have a great contracting job with Mozilla, and wrote a book (and continue to write them). I go to the gym about 3x per week and hang out with people I love, doing exercises I enjoy.

It’s a good life.

There’s no reason you need to be running around harried.

Here are the fundamental driving principles behind my time management strategy:

1. Manage Your Priorities

I have tried many time management techniques, and really, the biggest and most important time management technique I have found is PRIORITY MANAGEMENT. Because you can optimize every one of your actions, work 30 hours every day, and chase your feet to the bone on a treadmill, but if your actions are working toward a goal you don’t care about, then your time is still wasted.

This is why I created the Goal Workshop as one of my very first pieces of content. It’s that important to me.

When you are clear about your priorities and what is important to you:

  1. You can stay motivated even when stuff gets hard – and stuff will get hard
  2. It’s easier to decide what tasks are of no use (see point #2, below)
  3. It’s easier to identify what tasks are valuable, and make time to prioritize those tasks (see point #3, below)
  4. Articulating your priorities to other people is easier, so if you’re working with other people, they can understand the logic behind your priorities and not even bother you with stuff that isn’t in your priorities

2. Reduce Inefficiency

“Do nothing that is of no use.” – saying I heard somewhere

“80% – 90% of stuff we do doesn’t matter.” – Gary Vaynerchuck

Between these two principles is the answer: Don’t do 80% – 90% of the things that you think you “have to” or “should” do. If it aligns with your priorities and is in the 10% of tasks that will create meaningful progress, then it must be done. Otherwise, don’t do it. Delegate it to someone else and let go of the outcome, because it probably isn’t that important.

3. Actually do the things that need to be done

This is actually the hardest part for me, and I have been trying my darndest to figure out a way to be sure to actually do the things that need to be done. From the beginning of my time management journey, I have been trying to craft systems. The Checklist of Doom was one such attempt. I still do believe in that and am going to be incorporating it into my future time management system, but I am shamed to admit that I don’t use it now.

For now, I just have a bunch of pieces of paper with daily lists on them.

I know. It’s not fancy. There are online tools like Asana I have tried to use, but the tasks build up.

Since most of the tasks are timely, if I don’t finish a task list in 24 hours, I decide what to carry over (what still fits in the 10% of things I need to do) and throw out the rest. There’s no point in doing tasks too late (except taxes). Let them go. It has been proven time and time again that letting shit go (and self-compassion is a big part of this, which I’ll discuss later) is the best way to reduce stress and build enjoyment of life.

My most recent attempt is this daily worksheet:

planner sheet

(click to download)

The best explanation I have come up with so far is this: As long as you are only attempting to do the 10% of tasks that create meaningful progress toward your actual goals, even if you don’t do all of them, you’re still making measurable progress.

Perfection is not the goal here, incremental improvement is.

Assorted other rabble

Once those Big Three Principles guide your time management, you’re doing great. Not only will you be living on purpose, you’ll be making progress toward your measurable goals in a stress-free way.

There are a few other things that you can add to the mix like salt:

  • My friend introduced me to the 1 Minute Rule the other day, and I have been dabbling with implementing it.
  • Delegation: I am really blessed to have capable, competent people around me. If I delegate something to Ruth or Russ or Alyssa, I know it’s going to be done right 99% of the time.
  • Ask for help. People really do want to help you. And yeah, in some cases, you have to ask them, and you feel like you shouldn’t have to ask them… but do you want to be offended, or do you want to get the shit done? It is what it is. Get shit done.

Ok, that’s it! Those are my principles! And now I’m off to conquer the day!

* Yes, I do believe that I can get divinely-inspired messages

The Goals Workshop: We’re in this together

I’ve been hearing from people about how much they’re loving the 2017 Goal Workshop. Have you taken a look at it yet? What do you think?

I also heard that a couple people didn’t get the announcement email that the course was even open, so in case you missed it: 2017 Goals Workshop

I’m so excited to hear how the course is working for people! It’s wonderful to see people getting started with some bold choices in their lives. My friend Cindy wrote this in our Facebook group (which you should totally join):

“I’m watching some of the classes and Danielle says this thing – that if you can think of a goal – you can achieve that goal – no matter how out of reach it seems. and my whole self rebels – thinks, ‘No way man, I have all of these goals, and I don’t know they’re so crazy, how could that even be?’ – and so on. Here it is 30 minutes later and I’m still chewing on it. And then – in a moment of serendipity – on my Pandora station comes a [singer name removed] song. Back in 2007, I bought this album from Amoeba. I fell in love with [her] voice, bought all of her records, got my bandmate also obsessed with her music, and basically spent a few years with her being my favorite musician. My dream goal was to play with her just once someday. Well – one night at band practice we’d been drinking – and I decided to send her a myspace message about playing a show in the Bay Area next time she’s on tour down here. Long story short – she’s now one of my best friends, we’ve gone on tour together whoa maybe almost 10 times?, I stay at her house, she stays at mine, and that goal that seemed bonkers insane is now just the commonplace news of the day around here. So I guess it all is possible. Even if the steps / road isn’t clear yet – maybe it really is possible.” (edited lightly, emphasis mine)

And if you’ve watched the first video, you know that I also have a really huge goal of how many people I impact positively in 2017: 152,000 people! So if you feel compelled to share the course with friends, I’d really appreciate it.

Why is my goal to positively impact 152,000 people in 2017? Because times are complicated. It’s a rough time for optimists these days. It’s easy to be optimistic when things are going well, but 2016 has been a pretty rough year for a lot of people. It seems like every day, we hear something new and awful – whether it’s a tweet from the president-elect, or the death of an inspirational icon, it has been a very rough year.

It feels like people are more discouraged than ever about the future of our country and our culture.

And how many of your friends are discouraged, struggling, frustrated, and maybe even hopeless?

But I don’t think it has to be that way. I think we can collect ourselves and be mighty. I think if we become our best possible versions of ourselves, we can make a real difference.

I feel like it’s our responsibility and our duty to stand up and be our best selves right now.

Because the world needs us to be as mighty as we can be.

So that’s why I want you to share the goals workshop. It’s important. It’s helpful. It’s a way you can make a difference in someone’s life.

And I’m always open to hearing suggestions about how to improve and increase my impact, since 152k is a heck of a goal (right?). If you have any ideas on how to spread the message further and create measurable positive impact, please do share them with me. We’re all in this together.

How to survive panic attacks

Fear is a ridiculously insidious thing.

“But it’s all in your head,” as the saying goes … well, that may be true, but inside our heads is the absolute worst place for it, because we can’t escape!

It’s like that moment in the movie when you realize the killer is inside the house.

Grant Cardone (and maybe others, but he’s the one who I first heard it from) says FEAR stands for False Events Appearing Real. Basically, your mind creates scenarios that feel like you’re about to be eaten by a tiger, but in actuality, there’s only the slimmest of possibilities that you’ll really be eaten by a tiger (or face any other mortal danger).

This time of year – and I’m not exaggerating here – I feel like I am constantly having a heart attack. Like, a real, honest-to-God heart attack.

The first few times it happened, I wasn’t sure what was going on, and I was pretty sure I was actually dying. I wrote a couple of my entrepreneur friends on the third day asking, “Um, is this normal? because… it can’t be normal.” But now I know it’s just end-of-November,-beginning-of-December panic attacks.

And despite feeling like I’m going to die, I have somehow failed to die for the past four years.

Panic attacks are not fatal.

It’s OK to be uncomfortable. It’s OK to have panic attacks. It’s OK to be scared.

It’s OK to feel paralyzed…

… as long as you remember that you are not literally paralyzed. You can still move. You can still walk. You can still write. You can still make calls.

“But I’ll be so much better at it when I don’t feel like I’m dying.”

Yes, that’s probably true. You may absolutely suck at it because you’re freaking the fuck out. But the only way that you’ll get better at it while you feel like you’re dying is by actually doing the thing while you feel like you’re dying.

But you’re not dying. You’re living.

Because life is sometimes scary. And to people like me (us?), our body sometimes has inappropriate physiological responses to fear… specifically, panic attacks.

But we have to remember that this truly is just an inappropriate physiological response. It’s not real. The only thing that’s real is the effect of not doing the thing (which is likely something like not getting the sale, not making the product, not writing the blog post, or whatever).

And that’s something to be afraid of.

I’m not telling you that panic attacks or depression or anxiety doesn’t exist — I’m absolutely never going to tell you that, since I know how real they are — but I am telling you that sometimes you have to force yourself anyways, because retreating from that scary thing has more real-world bad effects than the False Events Appearing Real.

Have you successfully overcome FEAR? Share how you did it, so that we can all get better at it!

Free Worksheet: Time Management Starts With Priorities Management

In this Sunday’s video, I talk about my three foundations for an awesome life:

  1. Excellent time management
  2. Prioritizing your tasks for impact
  3. Building great relationships with amazing people

The first step in managing your time is deciding what projects are most important to you (so you can decide where to spend your time).

I’ve created a handy way of prioritizing your projects so you can see mathematically where your time is best spent. Because numbers don’t lie.

Download the Excel file here

Want to go a little further? Sign up for my (free) Goal Setting Workshop.

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