The Transformative Power of the 20%

When  you lay your head on the pillow at night, what goes through your mind?

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If you are like I used to be, you plunge into bed later than you want–exhausted from a day working super hard.  Then, you only think of what is still left to do–disappointed at what you were able to accomplish, and wondering if your time was well spent.

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There has to be a better way!

Thankfully there is!

In this blog, I am going to introduce you to (or remind you of) the tried and true 80/20 rule introduced by a 19th century Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto.

Through a series of events, Pareto discovered the principle that in life approximately 80% of our results are derived from only 20% of our activities.  The converse is also true.  About 80% of our activities only generate 20% of our results.  This explains why some people are able to accomplish great things with relative ease while many people who are extremely hard workers never seem to generate the results they want.

If you want to generate more results with equal or less effort, the most important thing you can do is to prioritize your action items.  You want to be sure that your actions are chosen intentionally to produce the greatest results.  You don’t want to spin your wheels!

Here are some quick and easy steps to do this.

  1. Write everything down.  When you feel life coming at you at a million miles an hour, grab a pen or pencil and write down everything on your mind.  You will quickly realize it cannot all get done, and you must prioritize!
  2. Divide your actions into two groups.  Draw a line down a piece of paper, draw two big circles or…you get the idea.  You are going to divide these actions into the “get BIG results” pile or the “other” pile.
  3. Do the 20% first.  You don’t have to choose to never do the other items.  You just want to focus on the 20% first because you have already stated they “move the needle.”  They make life happen.  They get it done.
  4. Enjoy the results.  When I started taking time to think time, I used the 80/20 Rule to identify my most important actions, and my life was changed.  The most noticeable difference for was feeling content at the end of the day.  I had accomplished what was most important, and these actions were driving results that led to my treasured immediate, short term, and long term goals.

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Tomorrow morning, instead of diving into the day in the morning and diving into bed at night, take time to think time and enjoy the feeling of contentedness as you reflect on your results.

 

These are my thoughts…  What are yours?

How do you feel at the end of the day?  What do you think would drive real change?

Please share in the comments below!

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Christine M. Wilson, LPC

Co-Founder, Think Time

2016-5-6-tt-logo-gray-cropped

Think Time Life Leadership System

Use your whole brain to plan your whole life.

Shop now at think-time.com.

 

Good Neuroscience + Your Life Planning

We have learned so much about the brain in the past years.  Why do we plan the same way we did decades ago?  In this blog, we will look at some basic truths we know from neuroscience and how they can be transformative when applied to our life-planning.

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After graduate school, I had the privilege of working as a counselor intern with patients who were in rehabilitation from traumatic brain injuries.  I served on a multi-disciplinary team of neuropsychologists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, and physical therapists to empower our patients to achieve their highest level of functioning following their injuries.  During this season of my life, I soaked up everything I could about the brain.

In this blog, I want to highlight just a few things we know from basic neuroscience that can be useful in our everyday lives, especially as it relates to setting our goals and accomplishing them.

 

 

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A relaxed state of mind is best. 

With regard to planning, we do better to plan in a relaxed state of mind.  We actually have better brain function due to increased oxygen flow in a state of relaxation than we do in a state of stress.  You know of this idea already in the opposite sense.  When we are stressed, our body moves in the fight, flight, or freeze mode.  When this occurs, access to the forward thinking, executive functioning, emotional regulating, and reasoning portions of the brain are cut off.

So, when you want you do your best planning, take time to think time. Take a walk.  Remove yourself from the hustle and bustle.  And, relax.  You will plan better.

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Think about your thinking.

Did you know that 90% of your thoughts today are the same ones you had yesterday?  Our brain is wired so that we think in patterns developed over time.  This works well for us in many ways, but what do we do when we need to think differently?  How do we get to a higher level?  Over an obstacle?  Or, to a new place?

The answer is to think about our thinkingWhen we choose to not just be lost in our thoughts, we are able to get above our thinking and to actually observe and evaluate it.  This new center of attention changes things, and voila! new neural pathways begin to form.

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Use both hemispheres of your brain.

Most of us know that our brain has two main hemispheres: the left-brain and the right-brain.  The left brain can be described in words like logical, sequential, orderly, verbal, linear, and focused on parts.  The right brain can be described as more creative, emotional, imaginative, nonverbal, artistic, and seeing the whole.

When you think about the typical planning tools and processes, for which side of the brain are they designed?  That’s right.  The left brain…only.

You were designed with two parts of your brain, and your best planning will incorporate both sides of the brain.  We definitely want to continue to utilize logic, sequence, order, words, and looking at the parts when we plan.  However, there are very important aspects of the right brain that are important to consider when we are planning.  Did you know that the right brain has more thorough neural connections to the rest of the brain than the left brain and uses these to form decision-making rules over time?  These rules that contain our life wisdom are then stored in a nonverbal form.  To gain access to these deep truths of life, we do not need to sit down and make a list of things to do.  We need to allow for daydreaming, creative thinking, emotions, pictures, images, and a view of life that incorporates big picture “whole” perspectives.

Planning with your left brain only can lead to a tragic result–a very efficient life lived in the wrong direction.  Do your best to avoid this tragedy by including your wise right brain in your life-planning process.

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Allow your mind to drift.

There are two main benefits of allowing your mind to drift: aha! moments and social connection.

The first is the “aha!” moment We know when our best ideas finally come together…when we are not trying!  We are doing something “mindless” like washing the dishes, walking the dog, or taking a shower.  During these times, we are usually allowing our mind to drift. While you might think the brain is less active during these times than when we are concentrating or focusing on a problem, it is actually as much or  more active.  Believe it or not, parts of the brain crucial in executive function–planning and focusing attention–are particularly active.

When you have a problem to solve, the best thing to do is to define your problem (using your left brain), do your best to think of a solution, and then let it go.  Do something else.  You are wired so that your right brain will still work on it even while you are “not thinking about it.”

The second benefit is social connection.  Another surprising discovery about drift thinking is that when we allow the brain down time, we think about ourselves, others, and the relationships in between us.  The brain could have been designed to focus on anything during this time–nuclear physics, logical reasoning, or categorization of animals and plants.  Instead, we are designed to default to thinking about relationships.  We need them, deeply.

Allow time for your relationships.  Allow your mind to drift.

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When we say, “take time to think time,” this is what we mean.  A relaxed state of mind is best.  Think about your thinking.  Use both hemispheres of your brain.  Allow your mind to drift.  Use good neuroscience in your daily life.  It’s 2016, y’all.

For thinking tools to support each of these practices, please visit think-time.com today and click the orange “Buy Now” button.

These are my thoughts…  What are yours?

Please share in the comments below!

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Christine M. Wilson, LPC

Co-Founder, Think Time

2016-5-6-tt-logo-gray-cropped

Think Time Life Leadership System

Use your whole brain to plan your whole life.

Shop now at think-time.com.

When You Need to Focus…Fast!

Do you know what to do when you need to focus fast?

…when you have 100 things coming at you all at the same time?

…when they ALL feel completely important and  intensely urgent?

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Here are some simple steps to take when life is coming at you at full speed and you need to act with both speed and accuracy.

  1. Cast a clear vision. What is the end result that you are seeking?  Do your best to gain clarity on this and you will recognize more quickly what action items are coming at you that align with your end goals.
  2. Write it all down. Quickly list or mind map everything that is on your mind. Big or little, it is weighing you down. Sometimes just looking at it all at the same time can bring an unexpected sort of clarity as you instantly realize all of it is not going to get done, and you must prioritize.
  3. Inventory what is yours…and let go of what is not yours. At times people push responsibilities on to others, and in times of chaos we may unwittingly accept them. Take a quick moment to consider if this is something that you actually need to do, or is it someone else’s responsibility?
  4. Be results oriented.  Don’t confuse activity with productivity.  All actions do not generate the same results; not everything moves the needle. Sift your items according which ones give you the most return on your investment (ROI).  Usually, about 20% of your actions produce about 80% of your results. Can you identify which 20% deserves your focus?
  5. Purge one more time.  Once you have clarified what your most important items are, ask yourself these four questions that fit the acronym REDD. What can I Reduce? What can I Eliminate? What can I Delegate? And what can I Defer 
  6. Get it on the calendar!  Last but not least, timeslot your top tasks on your calendar. The most productive people live off of their calendar, and not their to do lists.
When you apply these easy steps, please tell us about your experience!

These are my thoughts…  What are yours?

Please share in the comments below!

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Christine M. Wilson, LPC

Co-Founder, Think Time

2016-5-6-tt-logo-gray-cropped

Think Time Life Leadership System

Use your whole brain to plan your whole life.

Shop now at think-time.com.