One of the benefits of creatively planning your life is that it allows you
to simplify. You can weed out, delegate, and eliminate all activities that
don’t contribute to your projected goals.
Another effective way to simplify your life is to combine your tasks.
Combining allows you to achieve two or more objectives at once.
For example, as I plan my day today, I notice that I need to shop for my
family after work. That’s a task I can’t avoid because we’re running out
of everything. I also note that one of my goals is to finish reading my
daughter Stephanie’s book reports. I realize, too, that I’ve made a
decision to spend more time doing things with all my kids, as I’ve tended
lately to just come home and crash at the end of a long day.
An aggressive orientation to the day—making each day simpler and
stronger than the day before—allows you to look at all of these tasks
and small goals and ask yourself, “What can I combine?” (Creativity is
really little more than making unexpected combinations, in music,
architecture, anything, including your day.)
After some thought, I realize that I can combine shopping with doing
something with my children. (That looks obvious and easy, but I can’t
count the times I mindlessly go shopping, or do things on my own just to
get them done, and then run out of time to play with the kids.)
I also think a little further and remember that the grocery store where
we shop has a little deli with tables in it. My kids love to make lists and
go up and down the aisles themselves to fill the grocery cart, so I decide
to read my daughter’s book reports at the deli while they travel the
aisles for food. They see where I’m sitting, and keep coming over to
update me on what they are choosing. After an hour or so, three things
have happened at once: 1) I’ve done something with the kids; 2) I’ve
read through the book reports; and 3) the shopping has been completed.
In her book, Brain Building, Marilyn Vos Savant recommends
something similar to simplify life. She advises that we make a list of
absolutely every small task that has to be done, say, over the weekend,
and then do them all at once, in one exciting focused action. A manic
blitz. In other words, fuse all small tasks together and make the doing of
them one task so that the rest of the weekend is absolutely free to create
as we wish.
Bob Koether, who I will talk about later as the president of Infincom,
has the most simplified time management system I’ve ever seen in my
life. His method is this: Do everything right on the spot—don’t put
anything unnecessarily into your future. Do it now, so that the future is
always wide open. Watching him in action is always an experience.
I’ll be sitting in his office and I’ll mention the name of a person whose
company I’d like to take my training to in the future.
“Will you make a note to get in touch with him and let him know I’ll be
calling?” I ask.
“Make a note?” he asks in horror.
The next thing I know, before I can say anything, Bob’s wheeling in his
chair and dialing the person on the phone. Within two minutes he’s
scheduled a meeting between the person and me and after he puts down
the phone he says, “Okay, done! What’s next?”
I tell him I’ve prepared the report he wanted on training for his service
teams and I hand it to him.
“You can read it later and get back to me,” I offer.
“Hold on a second,” he says, already deeply absorbed in reading the
report’s content. After 10 minutes or so