Today I have the pleasure to introduce you to Elizabeth Saunders – time management and effectiveness guru. We went to college together and stayed Facebook friends through the years, and so I was happy for her when she announced that she had written a book about time management. “Cool,” I thought, “Someone I know has written a book…and actually gotten it published!” I would have been satisfied if it was a typical time management book – a quick read that compiles a dozen helpful hints that let you save a few minutes a day. Let me tell you, friends, this is not your typical time management book! Instead, it is an incredible book that fundamentally changes the way that you think about time, effectiveness, and success itself. I won’t try to summarize the book here. For one thing, you need to read it. For another, she has already summed it in up a Teacher’s Guide and Book Club Guide. These give you a pretty good idea of the basic outline.
But I will tell you that I love several things about this book. First, the title. It is not “time management,” it is “Time Investment.” The word “Invest” really is a more accurate portrayal of what we are doing with the finite minutes and hours that are given to each of us. But my favorite part about the book is that she tackles the root cause of poor time investment choices: our mental hang-ups. Each concept that she introduces comes with a quick list of the ‘Unhelpful Thoughts’ that hinder our ability to make the most productive time investment choices. And not only does she identify the bad, she suggests a more helpful way of thinking about it. For these reasons, I sincerely believe that The Three Secrets to Effective Time Investment will help you take control of your most valuable asset.
Today Elizabeth has graciously agreed to answer a few questions about her Purposeful Life, and we are sharing those with you today. Enjoy!
(Find out more about Elizabeth and her book at Real Life E.)
Purposeful Interviews: Elizabeth Grace Saunders
Q: You use a couple terms that I love: “Work Life Brilliance” and “Time Investment.” How does Time Investment support your ability to live a purposeful life?
A: The fundamental difference between time management and time investment is that the first focuses on efficiency, trying to do as many things as quickly as possible. The latter focuses on effectiveness, choosing to only do the activities aligned with your highest priorities. If you want to live a life of purpose, the most important choice you have to make is to decide what you will—and will not do. How quickly you complete these activities is a secondary concern.
Q: How does living a purposeful life lead to work life brilliance?
A: I define work-life brilliance as investing your time in such a way that it’s aligned with your priorities and realistic expectations of yourself and others. In our modern, busy world, this doesn’t just happen. You need to very intentionally and proactively decide to live a life of purpose versus simply reacting to everything that comes your way.
Q: I am a big fan of scripting and the idea that we should replace a negative with a positive, instead of simply focusing on eliminating the negative. How have you seen these strategies change your clients’ lives?
A: Many of my coaching clients struggle with having very low self confidence about their ability to invest their time effectively. This can lead to them not even wanting to try because they feel that their attempts will lead to yet another failure that reinforces what they already believe about themselves—they’re incapable of changing.
I’ve found that using the acceptance paradox, i.e. admitting and fully accepting the reality of their past experience, and then encouraging themselves with the truth can work wonders. For example, they may say something to themselves like:
In the past, I’ve wasted a lot of time at work and left many projects half finished. As I start the process of effective time investment, it’s going to be challenging. I will make some mistakes along the way. However as I commit to the process of change, I can improve my skills and my habits can get stronger.
Q: What are your thoughts about the balance between over-extending yourself on the one hand and limiting yourself on the other? There are seasons where we have a flurry of opportunities – how do we know when to pass up the good projects and opportunities so that we can get enough sleep? (Explanatory statement: With a family of 4, church volunteering, a full time job, and blogging it seems inevitable that there will be some nights of 5 hours of sleep. And I can handle some 5 hour nights, or so I tell myself. Am I missing something? Should I cut back?)
A: It’s natural and normal to have busy seasons, maybe as you’re welcoming a new child into your family, working on a big project with a specific deadline, or preparing for a big conference at church. However, it’s essential that you have a sustainable lifestyle. One or two nights a week of five hours of sleep could be sustainable. But if you’re finding that you’re getting five hours of sleep a night for weeks on end, it’s time to limit your investment in lower priority activities so that you can take care of yourself. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs applies to people of all ages. If you don’t get enough sleep, you’re lowering your overall productivity and most importantly your enjoyment of life.
Q: Many people have allowed you to look deeply into their lives. What have you learned about people that would be helpful for OPL’s readers to know?
A: You have many more options than you may think you do. So often people see themselves as a victim of their circumstances but once they decide to take an ownership mentality, they realize that they can have a much happier, more balanced life than they ever dreamed possible.
Q: You have handled setbacks and adversity and have boldly created your own business and your own brand. What advice do you have for someone who would like to follow in your (exciting and seemingly risky) footsteps?
A: I’ve been very blessed to own my own business since 2005 even though it’s not something I ever thought that I wanted for myself. My biggest advice is to follow God’s call on your life. I am where God has called me to be right now and there’s no better place to be.
Q: What advice do you have for those who do not want to risk starting their own business but still desire to live a purposeful life of brilliance?
A: In my book, I talk about priorities-based decision making, which basically means investing your time in alignment with the order of priorities you want to have for your life. If you are doing this consistently you absolutely can life a purposeful life of brilliance without starting your own business.
Q: You have gained a worldwide audience for your wisdom and insight. What advice do you have for all of the Facebook post-ers and amateur bloggers who would love to share their thoughts with the world?
A: Be authentic to yourself and to your own voice. Trying to copy what other people do and write how other people write will make you blend into the crowd. Sharing from your authentic self is what will allow you to stand out.
Time: Control, Focus, Investment
Thanks again to Elizabeth for sharing her valuable insights!
Elizabeth Grace Saunders is the founder and CEO of Real Life E®, a time coaching and training company that empowers individuals who are overwhelmed and frustrated to feel peaceful, confident and accomplished through an exclusive Schedule Makeover™ process. This proven system leads to increased productivity and work/life balance. Read more here.