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We are a time management company
that specializes in the art of helping you
prioritize, organize and simplify your life so you
can stop managing time and start living.

Why 7 Minutes

Taking 7 Minutes every day to think... Taking 7 Minutes in the evening and 7 Minutes in the morning to decide how you will spend the minutes […]

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Our Philosophy

Time is life. We are a time management and productivity company helping people and businesses organize their lives. Life is experienced in minutes […]

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The Science

Time management is the process of choosing the length of time you will consciously and deliberately focus your attention on accomplishing […]

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The Strategy

The strategy of time management requires the allocation of attention, determination and perseverance. Time management is a skill and […]

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The 7 Minute Life gives you a structure and a framework to take 7 minutes a day to think about and plan how you will choose to spend your time. 

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I sent an email recently to people who have signed up to The 7 Minute Life Productivity Starters series and explained that basically three types of people download resources: shiny object chasers, bottle rockets, and wonder builders. You don't want to be one of the first two!

In short, shiny object chasers and bottle rockets fail to implement. They fail to create lasting change. The chasers fail because they never stick with any program long enough to see results. They always chase after the next desirable approach. Bottle rockets start off with awesome energy, but rapidly burn-out

Wonder builders are the achievers. They willingly commit to paying the price necessary to see results. They stay the course even when results seem far outside their grasp.

I call them wonder builders because I think of people who built cathedrals and great wonders of the world that actually took longer than their lives to complete. They had clear plans and systematically took the next step even when work was arduous and result’s distant.

So what does it take to be a wonder builder? Who do you have to be to be the one who goes the distance and achieves what others only hope for? Wonder builders possess the following five qualities:

1) Wonder builders train, not try

My wife is a runner. She has completed two half-marathons. She never ‘tried’ to do a half-marathon, she ‘trained’ to do one. Trying means throwing yourself into something often times unprepared and hoping for the best. If it doesn't work, 'Oh well, try again sometime.' Training involves, researching what success will cost and how you can systematically pay those dues. Training involves investment and delaying gratification.

Growth questions: How do you need to grow and change to bring about your goals? What skill, knowledge, or character trait do you need to make the change you desire? What training could give you that skill or knowledge? What discipline could develop that character?

2) Wonder builders are disciplined about taking action

The greatest intention in the world without action is worthless. Once you craft a plan, work it. Work it without fail, not just when it is convenient. Do not willy-nilly jump to a new idea or plan. I heard discipline defined as “not changing course unless a different choice brings you closer to your destination.” Stay focused. Stay on the path. Keep taking the next step.

Growth questions: What action habit could you implement that could create forward movement every day? What is one action that you should never go to bed without completing? Fill in the blank, "I would eventually achieve my goal if I would only _______________ for fifteen minutes every day."

3) Wonder builders sacrifice

Each choice you make has an opportunity cost. World renowned violinist, Isaac Stern was once confronted by a middle age lady after a concert. She gushed "Oh, I'd give my life to play like you!" "Lady", Stern replied, "That I did!"

You may not have to give your life, but you may have to drop something. I had a friend who was asked to serve on her church board. She replied, "I can't. I am too busy." The person who asked her said, "I know. This is important enough that you may need to give something up."

Growth questions: What must you give up, to achieve the change you want in your life? What activities do you regularly engage in that are nothing more than a distraction? Complete this sentence, "I could achieve my goal, if only I wouldn't _________________________"

4) Wonder builders embrace risk

Albert Einstein is attributed with the saying, "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." To experience real and lasting change you must change your thinking by getting outside of what you know works. You may have to defy reason. You might have to take steps with no guarantee whatsoever that they will work.

Consider the gothic cathedrals of Europe. They are some of the most astounding pieces of architecture ever built. You would be surprised at the number of collapses that occurred during construction. Why? Because many of the advancements were simply made through empirical experimentation. They would set a goal to go higher and it would crumble. They would tweak the design a bit and try again until it held up.

Growth questions: What is a risk you are avoiding? What's something that you have no guarantee would work, but might? Why aren't you trying that? Even if you failed, how bad would that failure actually impact your life?

5) Wonder builders repeatedly execute and optimize

Wonder builders often exercise excellence, but they don't allow perfection to hold them back from taking the next action step. Nor do they get trapped in perpetual planning. My wife was told while working on her doctoral dissertation, "You don't need a perfect dissertation, you need a completed dissertation." So, she would write, submit, and re-write repeatedly.

Wonder builders follow a similar pattern: execute, optimize, re-execute, repeat. Identify whatever is the minimal viable action (MVA) you can take, instead of the perfect action. Take that MVA. See how it works. Make adjustments. Act again. You'll find this pattern of execute and optimize is far more productive than planning indefinitely for the optimal solution.

Growth questions: What's keeping you stuck? What step have you been planning or researching indefinitely? Is there an ideal time, resource, person, or opportunity that you have been waiting for before acting? In the absence of that ideal, what options do you have that are actionable right now? Complete this sentence, "Ideally, I would like to ___________________, but since I can't do that I will ____________________."

You can do it!

Anyone can develop these five traits. You just need practice. Self-development in even just one of the traits can radically transform your performance.

Which trait will you work on and how? I would love to hear. Please comment below so that we can inspire one another. I'll go first, look below and see which one I am working on.

All the best,

John Arnold

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Not all goals are equal. Different types of goals create different results in your life. A well-rounded set of goals will include the following three types:

Accomplishment Goals
Accomplishment goals are goals that complete a discrete and measurable task. For example, running your first half marathon, increasing your sales 20%, or getting a lead role in a community theater project. Once these goals are finished they are behind you. The vast majority of goals that are set are accomplishment goals.

Stretch Goals

I first hit on the need for stretch goals watching a video of a rock climber years ago who had achieved some amazing climbing records. One thing he said, hung with me, "I never take on a climb that I am sure I can complete." If he was confident he could do a climb, he looked for something harder that was questionable. As a result, his abilities were always getting stretched. This was so contrary to anything I had ever heard about creating goals.

Conventional wisdom is to use SMART goals. SMART is an acronym meaning Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. Sometimes you will see slight variations in this, but by-and-large that's the model. SMART goals are great. I have written many of them and keep that acronym in the back of my mind when writing my own goals. They possess a limit though that isn't always so smart.

The problem I find with smart goals is that they tend to have limited growth capacity. Meaning, because they are intentionally achievable and/or realistic, there is little or no risk involved. Risk however is what creates your greatest growth.

If you want to take your performance to a new level, you need goals that are beyond your current limits. You need goals that will challenge and stretch you to change who you are and how you behave. My first very intentional stretch goal was what I called my BHAG, Big Hairy Audacious Goal. It was frighteningly big and I had not clue if I could do it. Specifically, when I published my first ebook, I set a goal of getting over 5000 downloads on Amazon during my five day launch.

I didn't know squat about publishing on Amazon. I took a quick online course, followed the model, crossed my fingers, and worked like mad. I had to produce content at a level I never had. I had to learn skills online that I didn't have. I had to sacrifice hours at a keyboard. On my fifth day in the eleventh hour I reach over 5700 downloads. I cannot express how great it felt.

More importantly, I had a whole new baseline belief of what was possibly. I thought, behaved, and took action at a new level. The completion of this goal had redefined what I understood as possible. There was no going back.

What goal would stretch you? What's something you have dreamed of achieving, but resisted because it didn't seem possible? Whatever that may be I would encourage you to go for it. The wonderful thing about stretch goals is that even if you don't accomplish them (and I have few that I haven't) you still will find yourself in a better place than you are now after trying.

Habit Goals
Always, always, always, have a goal that is building a new habit. Why? Because habits become time assets that keep paying you big dividends over and over again. A habit goal is goal where you strive to put in place a new practice or process. Sometimes I refer to these as process goals as well.

I first became aware of the power of this accidentally. I had set a goal in place of eliminating clutter and excess in my life by getting rid of forty bags in forty days from my home. I put a stack of forty grocery sacks in my clothes closet and everyday I filled one and either tossed it out or donated it. I forced myself to only do one bag a day, so that I got in a habit of doing this. At the end of forty days...get ready for this...I had cleaned out literally, every closet, every drawer, every car, my garage, my office, and my desk of excess. It was amazing!

Afterwards, I realized that if I had set a goal of going through all of those spaces, I likely wouldn't have achieved my goal. Yet, I achieved exactly that in a way that was fun and felt almost effortless. The key was putting in place a process that would guarantee the outcome, if I simply stuck at it long enough.

I should have understood this already. As a pastor, I get a lot of people coming to me who want to read the entire bible. I have advised people for years, "Don't set a goal of reading the entire bible, create a habit of reading daily and you will read it many times." That's the essence of a habit goal.

Some other habit goals that have been extremely life enhancing for me have been developing a daily discipline of writing and creating a morning routine that includes a healthy breakfast, exercise, hydrating, learning, and devotion. My morning routine I achieved actually by habit stacking which I will need to cover in another post. But in short, I took each element of a great morning routine and mastered one at time. For example, I began with just getting in the habit of drinking a half liter of water every morning. Once that became habitual, I started taking a morning walk every day. Then, I layered in a good breakfast, and so on, until I had a fantastic morning routine. This daily discipline will reward me for the rest of my life.

What are some life enhancing habits you need? Have you included a daily discipline in your 90 day goals?

I would love to hear from you examples of habit or stretch goals that have made a difference in your life. Please share one in the comment below.

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There was a fad on Facebook for a while of posting twenty-five random things about yourself.  I never did that, but I thought what a wonderful way for us to get to know one another better.  Well, at least for you to get a peak into the eclectic and quirky guy I am.

I hope this helps make each post a bit more personal.  I've always wanted posts to feel like a conversation.

  1. When I was in 5th grade I failed a music aptitude test by one point. I begged and pleaded to be in the band. After the first class I went home and practiced the saxophone in the backyard on our swing set for about an hour. I went in and quit the next day.
  2. Last weekend I was on a music team to lead a retreat. I played guitar, banjo, djembe, cajon, and lead some vocals. So much for aptitude tests.
  3. My son and I built the cajon which is a percussion instrument that looks like a big bird house you sit on. I love building unusual things.
  4. A few of the odder things I have built are two Egyptian thrones on casters for a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, a golden chariot to carry the ghost of Christmas past in a production of A Christmas Carol, a leaf blower hovercraft, and two potato canons. We tried to make one of the canons with a silencer—that didn’t go so well. I don’t want to talk about.
  5. I love acting in local theater, especially when my family is involved. My favorite play was Camelot. I got to play King Arthur and my wife played Guinevere.
  6. In high school, I went through a phase were I was obsessed with backgammon. I went to tournaments on weekends and sometimes brought my set to school and practiced during lunch by playing myself.
  7. I was voted class clown by my senior class.
  8. During the early 80’s, I learned to break dance and often carried a boom box around on a guitar strap. (Yeah, I was that guy) I lugged it everywhere until some guy decided to ruin my fun and create the Walkman. I still have my Walkman and listened to a cassette tape on it the other night. It was like entering a time machine.
  9. During High School when I was busting a move on the dance floor with my awe-inspiring break dance moves, I completely tore the seam of my pants out doing the splits. I tied my sport coat jacket around my waist. I dashed home and had my mom sew the pants up and went back to the dance.
  10. I learned nothing from that experience. Two years later I went to a college dance and started competing with other people for a prize. I leapt in the air. Came done in the splits and spun on my back. When I spun I couldn’t pull my leg in because I had completely torn my hamstring. I wish it had been the pants. But, I did beat everyone else and win a Wang Chung album.
  11. I was a complete hacker computer nerd in the early 80’s and the first person I knew to have a home computer. Mine was a TRS-80 color computer with 16K of memory, no hard drive, and no monitor. I used a cassette player for storage and television for a monitor.
  12. My college education began at a rather hardcore engineering focused school, the University of Missouri at Rolla. I was a computer science major.
  13. I spent three and half years waffling between Computer Science and Mathematics, but graduated with a degree in Art History. Yes, my transcript is quite bizarre.
  14. I own a 1964 Volkswagen Beetle that looks almost identical to Herbie the Love Bug, minus the number and stripes.
  15.  I go to hot yoga regularly, which is basically like doing yoga in an oven. The room is 95 to 100 degrees. My favorite pose is doing a headstand. Yes, I can really do a headstand.
  16. I’ve been reading four chapters every day from the Bible since around December of 1983 or January of 1984.  I have never missed it once.
  17. I am an ordained Presbyterian pastor and co-Pastor with my wife, Susan.  All of the Bible reading has helped. My art history degree...uh, not so much.
  18. Though I love to act, am a pastor, and one of my favorite things to do is to keynote at Youth conferences, I actually test very high as an introvert on psychological tests. May be they are as helpful as music aptitude tests.
  19. When my children were little (they are now eighteen and twenty-one) I used to get them up before dawn sometimes and take them up on top of the roof of our house to watch the sunrise.
  20. I also enjoy sewing. I have made everything from matching Easter dresses for my wife and daughter to a frock coat I wore as Scrooge in a Christmas Carol.
  21. I once tried to ride a skateboard while walking on stilts. That worked almost nearly as well as a potato canon with a silencer. (BTW--When making a potato canon silencer do not use a fiber glass air conditioning filter as the medium in the silencer.  When the canon goes off a rather terrifying and deadly cloud of fiber glass shards envelopes the canon.)
  22. Nature observance and animal tracking is a passion of mine. I once got to be a part of an invitational only wolf tracking expedition. That was incredibly cool.
  23. One of the most formative experiences of my life was spending a summer in Alaska as a volunteer in mission traveling all over by ferry and float plan to lead vacation Bible schools in remote areas.
  24. I secretly have always wanted to take some form of dance lessons. (I guess that’s not a secret now). I haven’t given up and fully expect I will still do that when the timing seems right.
  25. This Fall I will celebrate 25 years of marriage to my beautiful, smart, dedicated wife by going to Italy for two weeks. We’re going to see a bunch of art and architecture. I guess that Art History degree is going to finally pay off.

Have you ever lost sight of your priorities and just started living re-actively to the world around you? Frankly, it can be a horrible way to live. I know because I have been there.

Recently, life seemed to dog-pile on top of me and in the process I lost control of managing my time. The result was that suddenly I was spending most of my time stamping out fire's, responding to other people's expectations, and always feeling behind.

I ran across a very simple exercise that I simply call 'tracking wins'. The basic idea came from a webinar I attended by internet marketer, Jeff Walker, but I put a slight 7 Minute Time Management twist on it. I found this exercise that only takes a few minutes and evening rapidly helped me turn my time management around.

Specifically, I found this practice helps me positively review my day, get away from negative thinking, and draws to mind my high values. After practicing it for even just a few days, I began to resist low value tasks and begin replacing them with higher value task. With each high value task, my turn around to greater time management seemed to take on momentum.

Watch the video and see what you think. More importantly try the exercise.

If you enjoy this tip or feel like you need to regain control of your priorities, then I want to recommend that you consider our free time management training, The 7 Minute Life's Starter Guide Series. This series contains four guides that will walk you step-by-step through:

  • Identifying your priorities
  • Discovering your purpose
  • Setting 90 day goals
  • Creating a daily written action plan

With these four building blocks of great time management in place you'll carry less stress, increase productivity, and experience more joy at work and home. Let us help you priorities, organize and simplify your life with these four free training guides. Just fill the form below and sign-up to get your free first guide.

The 7 Minute Life's Starter Guide Series

The 100% FREE Series of Four Step-by-Step Instructional Guides to Help You Master Your Time Management. Sign up and start receiving this Starter Guide Series.

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What are your top 10 values?  If you don't know we have a fantastic tool called the Prioritize Worksheet, that will help you identify them.  Those of you who use a 7 Minute Life Daily Planner should be well acquainted with this exercise, but you might be making a HUGE mistake that I did every quarter when I reevaluated my priorities.

MY BIG MISTAKE

Once a quarter I was diligently figuring out my priorities using 7 Minute tools, only to then set them aside.

Yep, you heard me correctly. I did all of the work and then basically didn’t look at my top 10 values as I planned goals, scheduled my days, etc.

Please tell me someone else is bad about this?

Well, if you are, you can easily fix this. Here’s what I do. Once I have my top 10 values in hand, I brainstorm actions I can take to live out my highest values. I usually list five to seven for each one.

For example, for the value “Family” I might list:

  • Take a different family member on a date night once a week.
  • Daily speak encouraging or affirmative words to every family member.
  • Surprise my wife with a small but meaningful gift for no reason.
  • Invite a family member on my morning walk.
  • Eat dinner at home together at least three times a week.

You get the idea. As simple as this seems, again, this was a game-changer. Why?

The exercise made me get very real about my top 10 values. Better yet, it gave me a whole grab bag of ideas. I could drop these into any given day and start living out my highest values.

If you want to know more about this strategy and the Prioritize Worksheet, we now have a new guide, called The 7 Minute Life Starter's Guide to Priorities.  It's available for free as part of a new series of four step-by-step instructional guides.

These guides cover the four foundational elements of great time management:

  • Identifying your priorities
  • Discovering your purpose
  • Setting 90 Day Goals
  • Creating a Daily Written Action Plan

Sign-up to get your free guide about priorities by filling the form below.  You'll automatically receive the other four guides along with some encouraging instruction after you have had an opportunity to review and implement the first guide.

The 7 Minute Life's Starter Guide Series

The 100% FREE Series of Four Step-by-Step Instructional Guides to Help You Master Your Time Management. Sign up and start receiving this Starter Guide Series.

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We value your privacy and will never spam you.

How Time Management Improves The Quality of Your Life

Life is full of benefits.
Benefits don’t have to be big, most benefits are tiny moments filling our hearts with love, joy and meaning. Just yesterday I was outside walking my dog. The spring weather was perfect and we (Allyson and Big Jake Cotton – my dog) stood motionless in the sunshine. Not rushed. Not thinking of an urgent activity that needed to be completed. Big Jake Cotton and I stood quietly living “in the moment”. This example is only one of the benefits of time management.

Here are ten other benefits and blessings of good time management:

1.     THINK
Slow down the speed of your life to think. Think about what and whom you love. Think about what is most important to you in life.

2.     PRIORITIES AND PURPOSE
Re-connect with your priorities and purpose – discover why you have been placed on this earth – then take time to share your purpose to make a difference in the world.

3.     REDUCE STRESS AND ANXIETY
Stress impacts your daily productivity and the overall sense of wellbeing. Procrastination, distractions and constant interruptions are all anxiety producing. Improving your personal time management reduces stress and anxiety. Most people walk into work with some sort of unrealistic "to-do" list. Choose to replace your to-do list with a well thought out written list of a small (but, important) number tasks you will experience less pressure and stress.

4.     LESS OVERWHELMED
When you work from a written daily plan of action you will feel less overwhelmed and even when you experience the unavoidable distractions of life, you will simply look at your written plan and be able to refocus your attention back to what you were working on at that time.

5.     STOP SAYING: “I NEVER HAVE ENOUGH TIME.”
Time management is actually decision management. The benefit of having fewer decisions to make regarding what you will work on today can help you stop saying, “I never have enough time.”

6.     MORE ENERGY
Time management replaces discouragement with energy. Motivation ignites your internal drive. Have you taken time to decide you will use your personal skills and talents to build momentum to do what it takes to achieve your personal and work goals?

7.     DOPAMINE: THE BRAIN CHEMICAL OF EUPHORIA
Time management allows you to reduce the number of tasks you will decide to work on allowing you the powerful benefit of being able to mark important tasks off your daily plan of action. With each checkmark your brain releases dopamine and fills you with that wonderful experience of accomplishment.

8.     HAPPINESS
Happiness is only one of the by-products of focusing your time completing challenging projects. When you have the drive to start and completely finish one task at a time your individual effort becomes the motivation driving happiness in your daily work. You want to believe your work is appreciated and that you are a valued team member.

9.     KNOW WHEN YOU HAVE DONE ENOUGH
Reaching enough. Smart phones, email, and texts are removing the boundaries of work life and home life. Time management is a conscious decision that when you leave your office, you have accomplished enough.

10.  FREEDOM
The benefit of freedom is difficult to describe in words. Freedom means different things to different people. Freedom to love. Freedom to laugh. Freedom to live a life in alignment with your personal priorities and purpose.


 

Allyson Lewis and Big Jake Cotton

Big Jake Cotton

Personal Note from Allyson:

For me freedom is the gift of standing in the spring sunshine, experiencing a gentle breeze on my face, with a leash in my hand and my dog at my feet.

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