Use the Back of Your Brain

dreamstime_xs_62496032When I was in college it always took me awhile to complete the research for papers.  The major reason was that I always found so many interesting studies to read.  They might not have been relevant for the paper I was writing, but it was hard to resist reading them anyway.

One related to brain functioning.  It said that either the subconscious or unconscious (I forget which—or maybe it was both—let’s call it the back of the brain) was always working.  Since it was always working, we might as well have the conscious part of our brain (let’s call it the front of the brain) tell the back of the brain what we wanted it to do.

I was going to college full-time and working 30-40 hours a week to pay for college.  I needed all the help I could get to make best use of the time I had, so I started experimenting with this.  I would tell the back of my brain things like: “I have to write a paper on XYZ.  What should I include?  How should I organize it?”  Then I would work on other things for a day or two.  When I sat down to work on the paper, the information flowed.  I had much more information than I ever had when I tried to write something “cold.”

The more I used this technique, the better it worked.  I still use it.

For example, a few days ago I had the idea that this topic would make a good blog.  If I had sat down and tried writing it the minute I had the idea, I would have struggled.  Instead, the front of my brain told the back of my brain to work on this idea.  Now, the thoughts are pouring out, faster than I can type.

I use this for large projects, such as writing books.  With a book, I tell the back of my brain to work first on the overall concepts and content of the book and as I start writing, I tell it to work in more detail on the next chapter.  It works!  I have more trouble finding time to write than I do in getting thoughts on paper once I have time to do it.

I also use this for little things such as planning parties, holiday dinners, and vacations.  People comment on how organized I am.  To a large degree, I think it is because I use the back of my brain to work on things while the front of my brain is focused on other items.

If you don’t already do this, I suggest that you try it.  If it works, you might find that you are more productive.  If it doesn’t work, you haven’t lost a thing.

 

Take It Off the List

dreamstime_xs_34342688Do you have things on your to do list that have been there for weeks? Months? Longer?  If so, may I make a suggestion?  Either do them today or take them off the list.  If you  haven’t done them by now, what makes you think you are ever going to do them?  Plus, if they haven’t been done by now, they must not be that important.

Keep in mind that a to do list is not the same thing as bucket list of things to do before you “kick the bucket.”  It might take a long time to accomplish some of the things on your bucket list.  It’s good to keep that list to keep you motivated to accomplish those things.

A to do list is not the same as your long-range goals and corresponding plans, either.  Those, too, can take a long time to accomplish.

However, for your daily or weekly to do list, I’m sure there are things that you can safely delete if they have been there far longer than a day or week.   Clean up your to do list so that you can focus on the important items.

Planning Backwards

dreamstime_xs_54563294Although we usually think of planning as starting at the beginning and finishing at the end, it can be beneficial to start with the end and continue backwards to the beginning.

Most of us probably do this frequently in small ways.  For example, to determine when we need to get up in the morning to get to work on time, we might plan something like this:

  • I start work at 8:00, so…
  • I need to arrive at work at 7:45 to park the car, punch in, etc. to be on the job by 8:00.
  • It takes 45 minutes to drive to work, so I need to leave home at 7:00.
  • It takes 90 minutes to get ready and take care of the pets, so I need to get up at 5:30.
  • However, it’s snowing, the roads will probably be bad in the morning, so I need to allow an extra 30 minutes to drive to work. I need to set the alarm for 5:00.

This process can also be beneficial for our large dreams and goals, especially if they are very specific.

For example, if someone wanted to design motorcycles for a specific company, good information to obtain could be:

  • Is this an entry level position? If not, what entry level position can lead to the desired position?  What advancement is necessary within the company?
  • What experience is required to be hired by the company? How can it be obtained?
  • What education/degree is required? Where do most of these graduates attend college?
  • What needs to be done to be accepted into that college and that degree program?
  • What needs to be done to be able to attend that college? (For example, would it require moving? Financial assistance?)

The plan, of course, would include the details on how to make this work.  Additional questions might include the following.  Would an internship meet the experience requirement and could that be completed during college?  If the person is in high school, what classes could she take and what grades would she need to be accepted to the college?  If she is already in the workforce, can some of her work experience assist her in being accepted to the college?  Are there classes she needs to take before she will be accepted either into that college or into that program?  What financial assistance is available?  What support, if any, will she need from family?

The next time you need to plan something, try planning backwards and see if it helps you develop a better, more detailed plan.

Road Maps and Signs

Road Maps and Signs (Video Link)

dreamstime_xs_42580843When we travel, we need a road map. We need a plan to tell us how to get from where we are to where we want to go. We also need road signs. The signs tell us where we are. By comparing the signs to the map we know where we are and what we need to do to get to where we want to go. If the signs tell us that we are somewhere that we did not plan to go, then we know we need to do something to get back on our route.

In our lives, we also need maps and signs. Our maps are our plans—where do we want to go, what do we want to accomplish, how do we get there? The “signs” are those indicators that tell us if we are moving toward our goals or not. For example, are we meeting our sales objectives for the week, month, and quarter? Are we meeting our objectives for contacting new customers? Are we meeting our profit objectives for the period?

Our objectives might also be personal objectives. Are we saving the planned amount each week for a major purchase? Have we made reservations for a vacation? Are we spending the time we had planned with family or friends?

Unfortunately, it can sometimes be very easy to continue to “drive” without checking the “signs” when it comes to our professional and personal lives. Just because we are busy does not mean that we are any closer to our goals. We might just be driving in circles.

Do you routinely check the “signs” that indicate where you are in relationship to where you want to go?

It is 2015; What Have You Done?

hIt is 2015, another new year.  Have you made your goals and plans for this year?  Have you done anything to accomplish them yet?  Are you doing even one thing differently this year than you did last year to achieve what you want this year?

It is easy to get excited about another new year, about the things that we will do this year that we have not done before.  The difficulty is in carrying out the plans.  We still have all the day-to-day commitments and tasks that we did a week or two ago.  Nothing has changed, except the number on the calendar.  Nothing will change, if we do not change.

Most people do not accomplish their New Year’s resolutions.  Do not be one of them!  Commit now, implement your plans now, to achieve the professional and personal success you want in 2015.

Do you Make Things Happen, or Do You Wait for Things to Happen?

Make Things Happen (Video)

People that make things happen know what they want, they develop a plan to make it happen, they implement the plan, and they regularly evaluate their results.  If they are achieving the results they want, great.  If not, they reevaluate their plan, revise it as necessary, and implement the new plan.  They continuously do this.  Because of this, they make things happen.  They get what they want.

People that make things happen go after life, they go after what they want.  They also take full and complete responsibility for their life.

Other people may go through the motions of developing and implementing plans, but mostly they are waiting for things to happen.  They are waiting for someone else to do things for them, provide for them, care for them.  They are waiting for that perfect job or relationship to simply appear.  They are waiting for life to come to them.

What type of person are you?  Do you make things happen?  Or do you wait for things to happen?

I am proud to say that I am someone that makes things happen.  If you are, too, great!  If you are not, I suggest that you decide to become someone who makes things happen.  Personal and professional life is much fuller and more satisfying when you make the life you want rather than waiting for it to magically appear.  Even at Hogwarts, magic did not just happen.  Someone had to make it happen; someone had to wave a wand, incant a spell, or stir a potion.

Take control of your life and make things happen!