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Time Management Skills - The 7 Minute Life

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The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner

Read the Full Introduction


Are you ready for a “7 Minute” revolution? It’s time to revolutionize your life by turning talk into action.

You choose how much you will sleep, what you will eat, how much exercise you will get, how much water you will drink, what you will read, and with whom you will spend time. Life is about choices. If you want to be different tomorrow than you are today, you must choose to be different.

We’ve all had moments of inspiration and insight, usually in spontaneous, random bursts. But what if you could harness your brain’s focusing power and put it to work in a repeatable system that would keep you inspired and energized? The 7 Minute Life® Daily Planner does that. Our research shows that most people want to simplify their lives by eliminating the prevalent chaos that prevents them from being effective and happy. The 7 Minute Life® Daily Planner will give you the necessary tools to define your priorities, organize your activities, and help you simplify your life down to one question:


Did I do what I said I would do today? Most people intuitively know what they want to accomplish. They even know what they should do. The 7 Minute Life® Daily Planner helps articulate self-knowledge and translate it into small, attainable daily activities. Part of what draws people to the 7-minute system is celebrating the tiny “wins” of actually reaching their daily goals. Daily, small achievements are good for you.


The 7 Minute Life® Daily Planner will enable you to:
• Define your values
• Discover your purpose
• Set written goals
• Monitor your physical health
• Get rid of clutter in your life
• Have a daily written plan of action
• Track your progress


Living The 7 Minute Life® is a choice. By using this book you will learn how to behave differently. We’ve taken proven time management and productivity ideas and molded them into a systematic, repeatable, daily process that you can use every day to achieve your goals in your professional and/or personal life. The 7 Minute Life® Daily Planner is more than a calendar, much more than a daily planner, it is even more than a business plan.


The 7 Minute Life® is a way of life. I was inspired to write my last book The Seven Minute Difference after the life-changing experience I had when I wrote in seven minutes’ time what my life’s purpose is. While researching The Seven Minute Solution I learned that studies show the average person’s attention span is only seven minutes long. In fact, in his groundbreaking research, Harvard psychologist George Miller found that the human brain is limited to remembering only seven pieces of information at a time. These studies struck a chord with me because I’ve personally experienced the power of what seven minutes of total concentration can do.

How is this Daily Planner Different?

In order to be productive, it’s important to keep your notes, goals, schedule, everything in one place—your 7 Minute Life® Daily Planner. The reason for this is simple. If your goals are written down in one location and your daily accomplishments and action plans written down in another, you run the risk of feeling scattered and becoming disorganized—chief ingredients of chaos. You don’t want to have to hunt to reread your goals; they should be at your fingertips at all times.


Many businesses revolve around 90-day quarters, and for good reason. Ninety days is a long enough period of time to see if a plan is working and goals are being met. It’s also a short enough period of time to maintain motivation. Therefore, The 7 Minute Life® Daily Planner is broken down into 90-day segments. Every 90 days you will begin a new book and file the completed one for future reference.


Each 90-day period starts with a “Focus Time.” Whether you are doing The 7 Minute Life® Daily Planner as part of a work team or on your own, you may want to schedule your “Focus Time” to be held in a different location from your daily environment. Removing yourself from the distractions of your day-to-day life enables you to better see the big picture.


You will spend your “Focus Time” creating and defining your goals and strategizing how best to accomplish them. Having clear goals is paramount to being successful. Therefore, it’s crucial to the success of changing your life that you spend ample quality time on the front end of this process.


The 7 Minute Life® Daily Planner is designed to help you become more deliberate about the life you lead. As we stated in the preface, the essence of living an attentive life is to Prioritize, Organize, and Simplify®. By prioritizing your core values, creating a written purpose statement, and establishing your 90-day goals, you can accomplish whatever you set your mind to and live the life you want.


Ask yourself: Is my life authentically aligned with my priorities?

Step 1. Prioritize Your Top 10 Values

The only true way to prioritize what is most important to you is to rank what you value in a numerical list. So, the first step in The 7 Minute Life® Daily Planner starts on page 20, where 75 values are listed. Scan the list and circle or check the ones that speak to you. Some will stand out more than others. Then, at the bottom of the page, prioritize your top 10 personal values by ranking them. Once you have ranked your personal values, stop and reflect on how you spend your time and money. Are your daily choices lining up with what you really believe to be the most important in your life?

Your time and your energy are both finite resources. Therefore, you must consider carefully which daily activities and emotions you choose to spend your limited amount of attention on. You may be surprised to learn that you are squeezing out those things most important to you, while lavishing huge amounts of attention on unimportant things in your life. This is why we must redefine our priorities.

Step 2. Discovering Your Purpose

I was a 43 years old. Yet it wasn’t until 2003 when I defined my purpose that my life was profoundly changed in exactly 7 minutes. I had no idea until I completed this thought-provoking exercise what my true purpose in life was. In order to be successful, both personally and professionally, you must be able to clearly and articulately define your goals. But before you can do that, you must understand what your purpose in life is. Your purpose in life is defined by how you use your individual gifts and talents, not only to make a living, but also to make a difference in the world. Goals clarify how you use your purpose. Your priorities are the order in which you accomplish your goals. While the three concepts cannot be separated, they should be looked at independently.


Discovering or rediscovering your purpose should be a top priority. This exercise will challenge you to examine your life, review your prioritized list of what you value most in life, and then work toward creating a written statement about what you believe your purpose in life is. Turn to page 21 and find the words:


My purpose in life is . . .
written on the top of the page. Take a few minutes to reflect on the top 10 values that you have already identified. On the right side of this page you will see a place to write down seven things that you love about life. This list may include foundational items, like your faith, your family and your work. It may also include many of the simpler aspects of life that you love, such as: spending time with your kids, reading, hiking, gardening, golfing, coaching Little League, traveling, or volunteering. Because love is the foundation of purpose, having a list of what you love in front of you while you contemplate your purpose is very important.


When I took this exercise my purpose unfolded in seven minutes, but that may not be true for you. It may take longer. During your “Focus Time” spend as much time as you need to articulate why you have been put on this earth. Each person has been given unique gifts and talents. I believe you will discover an overwhelming sense of meaning and fulfillment as you realize how you can serve the world around you.


Remember to begin this exercise by looking at the list of the things in life you love most. I believe there are three basic tenets to discovering your purpose:


  • Purpose is what you do for others. 2) Purpose is how you use your gifts and talent to change the world. 3) Love is the foundation of purpose.
Step 3. Establish Your 90-Day Goals

Your purpose tells you what you want to do with your life and how you want to use your gifts and talents. Your goals help you define your objectives and clarify the steps you need to take to accomplish your purpose. When you have clarified your goals in life, you will be one step closer to fulfilling your purpose. Goals can be personal or professional, tiny or grand, achieved tomorrow or within 90 days. They may even be aimed at leaving a legacy beyond your lifetime.


In Brian Tracy’s book Goals—How to Get Everything You Want Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible, he encourages readers to do three things:


1 Write down your goals. It’s not enough just to have a vague idea of what you want to achieve. You need to develop specific goals and write them down.

2 Make plans to achieve your goals. For every written goal you need to determine three or four specific actions that will help you reach that goal.

3 Work on those plans every day. Most goals cannot be achieved by sporadic and occasional effort, but require daily attention and action.


your goals is vital to understanding your purpose, but it’s only the first step toward achieving them.


It’s important to write your goals in the PRESENT TENSE, as though they have already happened. Follow each goal with five action steps that will allow you to reach the goal within the next 90 days. These 90-day goal sheets are the culmination of your “Focus Time” work. This exercise forces you to clarify your top goals for your personal and work lives, as well as your financial and long-term overall life goals.


Select a timeline for each goal so that you can prioritize the necessary action steps. Of course, some goals may require more action steps to accomplish than others. List as many steps as are needed.


Put the Brain to Work
Start and finish every day reviewing your goal worksheets. As you focus your attention on the goals you want to accomplish, your brain will put itself to work consciously and unconsciously to reach those goals. You will find yourself waking up with new ideas for how to solve a problem. Or you will be driving down the street when a burst of inspiration hits you so hard that you are forced to pull over to write down your ideas.

Did you do it?

Once you have clearly and deliberately determined what you want to accomplish in the next 90 days, you must take action every day. It only takes small steps to reach your future goals. When you choose to do what you say you will do, your success in life boils down to a series of simple “yes” or “no” questions.


The 7 Minute Life® is a choice. It is a choice you make every day. It all begins with your “Focus Time.” These first three 7 Minute Life Ideas are intended to help you prioritize your:

• Values
• Purpose
• 90-Day Goals


then you will be ready to begin to organize these ideas into daily action.


The 7 Minute Life® Daily Planner is filled with many time management and productivity tools designed to help you organize your life and make more efficient use of your time. Many of these ideas revolve around the concept of “7 Minute” micro-actions. Micro-actions are tiny changes and activities that anyone can choose to implement in their daily lives. Often the biggest, most meaningful differences in our lives are really just a series of small, seemingly insignificant changes.

Step 4. Unfinished Tasks

As with any to-do list, it is important to actually DO what you’ve set out to accomplish. However, for a variety of reasons some tasks just don’t get done. In David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, he calls unfinished tasks “open loops.” As the name suggests, these open loops circle continually in your unconscious mind, popping up periodically in your consciousness. As soon as you remember that you have not completed a task, your brain focuses on it and prompts you to do it—immediately. You might be able to bat it away like a pest from your consciousness, but it will fester and send out distress signals in your unconscious, making you miserable. The cycle continues until the job is done.


Now, consider this: On any given workday you may have anywhere from 30 to 50 unfinished tasks. Regardless of the size or scope of the tasks to be completed, they are stressing you. These incomplete loops perpetually interrupt concentration, pull focus, and induce anxiety. That’s why it’s so important to put unfinished tasks onto a master to-do list. By placing them in a single, safe place you stop the open loop process and put your mind at ease. It is tantamount to your conscious mind reassuring your unconscious that it need not worry; the task will be done in a timely manner.


As you work toward starting and completing all the items on your list, make sure you keep track of everything you accomplish by marking off with a checkmark each item one at a time. The simple power of the checkmark is in itself a mysterious motivating power. In a sense these lists create a written contract you make with yourself. By creating these lists, you are making an emotional commitment to complete these daily activities. As straightforward as it may seem, there is an incredible power of emotional accomplishment each time a task is finished completely and marked off your list.

Step 5. Get Rid of Mental Clutter

Mental clutter is defined as anything that takes up your finite time and emotional attention. Mental clutter can easily divert you from the path of success.


There are four primary causes of mental clutter. They are avoidance, procrastination, distraction and indecision. Further, the emotional price you pay is significant. If you choose to allow these issues to persist, you will experience stress, distraction, worry and fatigue.

What can you really do to battle these problems? The first step is awareness. Once you are willing to admit that you have allowed “Mental Clutter” to be a part of your life, you can choose to use your brain to overcome them. Use this page to list any issues in your life and the actions you think can help you overcome them

Step 6. Home Repair

This micro-action is self explanatory. If it is broken, make a phone call and get it fixed. Your home is one of the places you should find comfort and peace.

Step 7. Annual Projects and Tasks

Whenever possible work to create repeatable processes and systems. Take 7 minutes to design an Annual Projects and Tasks calendar that lists all of your annual events, all national holidays, your major marketing campaigns, the conferences you will attend, and any time you have already scheduled for vacation.

Step 8. Your 12 Month Calendar

The 7 Minute Life® Daily Planner is a 90-day process, but the world still revolves in 12-month segments of time. We have included a one month per page calendar. Most people in today’s world rely on some type of electronic calendar system, however these pages can help you organize multiple project timelines and sometimes it is helpful to be able to view your entire year with a quick glance.

Step 9. The Meeting Planner

These pages are designed to help you make your meetings more productive and more efficient. A tremendous amount of daily work time is spent in staff meetings. Choose to create an agenda for the meetings you are in charge of planning. Take the time to outline the concept or reason for the meeting, what the desired outcome of the meeting is, and who really needs to be involved.

During the meeting you will often create action steps that you can list on the bottom of the page.

Step 10. Notes Pages

After the Daily Progress Reports you will find several pages of blank paper to capture any notes you may need.

Step 11. The Annual Exercise Progress Report

The 7 Minute Life® Daily Planner revolves around the concept of Prioritize, Organize, and Simplify®. Most of us intuitively know that we must choose to make a commitment to our health in order to feel less stressed and more productive.

Step 12. The Daily Progress Report

“7 Minute” Micro-Action #10: The Daily Progress Report

Inside The 7 Minute Life® Daily Planner you will find Daily Progress Report pages—two pages for each of the 90 days. This proactive Daily Progress Report takes your personal values, purpose, your 90-day goals, and your unfinished tasks, and translates them into DAILY ACTIVITIES and ACTION STEPS.


Time management is a skill you can learn that enables you to efficiently use the minutes in your day to focus on achieving high-value priorities. Remember: Life is a series of choices. You can choose to live with order, productivity, effectiveness, excitement, and less stress. All of this begins with learning how to structure your daily activities by deciding what is most important for you to accomplish each day.


5 before 11:
Your Daily Top Priority “To-Do” List
Your 5 before 11 micro-action list is one of the planning activities you will do on a daily basis. Just before you leave the office for the afternoon, turn to tomorrow’s Daily Progress Report and make a prioritized list of the five highest-value activities that you are willing to commit to completing before 11:00 a.m. the next morning. Your life will be radically different if you start every day knowing what five specific action steps you must take that morning in order to get closer to reaching your goals. This process makes every day count.


Imagine walking into a clean and uncluttered office and placing only one object on your desk. That thing is The 7 Minute Life® Daily Planner opened to today’s date with your five highest-priority tasks listed. Your job is to simply complete these five tasks before 11 o’clock. This means beginning and COMPLETELY finishing each one.


This single concept will keep you from living in a constant state of reaction by giving you a proactive, daily written plan. At the end of each day you will look at your 5 before 11® list and answer with a “yes” or “no” if you accomplished each one. It’s that simple.


During the week your 5 before 11® list is likely to be geared toward helping you achieve your work goals. On the weekend you may focus on social or civic obligations and household duties.


Workweek 5 before 11® examples:

  • Create Meeting Agenda for new conference
  • Contact Heather regarding new account documentation
  • Schedule meeting to introduce new product
  • Send contract to attorney
  • Meet with Susan regarding proposal deadline.


Weekend 5 before 11® examples:

  • Complete cardio workout
  • Clean out kitchen drawer
  • Write thank you letter to Ann
  • Pay bills
  • Return book to library.


The first step in changing your life is choosing to change. When you do, you will find yourself on a new path to a better life. But after taking that giant leap to a new path, you must then take small steps in order to successfully meet your goals. As you know, we call these small steps micro-actions. The power of this one tool cannot be overstated. Because businessmen and women live in a constant state of reaction, there is little time to proactively determine which daily activities are advancing your goals. Micro-actions are a tool that turns your 90-day goals into daily activities.


The 7 Minute Life® is about taking small steps toward your goals every day. It is the EVERY DAY part that proves to be most difficult. The 5 before 11® schedule enables you to commit to small, daily activities that will propel you toward success. The small “wins” keep you motivated.



“7 Minute Life” Connections


In this segment of the Daily Progress Report you will list three people you would like to connect with today. This might be a prospective customer, someone you could network with or even a friend. Go back to your complete list of “7 Minute Life” Connections and transfer three names.


Make Daily Contacts

It’s often said that, “Successful people are simply willing to do what unsuccessful people are not.” Business is about contact—daily contact. If you are a corporate leader, you must be in contact with your managers, vendors and, most important, your customers every day. If you are in sales, your success depends on the number of people to whom you present your product and how well you deliver customer service.


Tracking your Daily Contacts

The 7 Minute Life® Daily Planner is designed to help you track the people you contact and speak with every day. On the left side of the Daily Contact section you will see a series of dashes. These dashes allow you to track how many people you attempt to contact. You have no control over the number of people you actually contact, but you do have control over how many people with whom you try to get in touch.


The 7 Minute Life® Daily Planner offers you a point system to help account for the amount of time different activities take by assigning them values.

  • 1 point for an attempted outgoing call
  • 1 point for an incoming call
  • 5 points for a face-to-face appointment or meeting
  • 5 points for a telephone appointment
  • 5 points for attending a networking event
  • 25 points for a seminar


 If you agree that business is about contact, then daily contact with your clients, prospects, vendors and co-workers is key to your success.


Only you can decide what the correct number of Daily Contacts is for you and for your team. For some the number of contacts may be five, while for others it might be 10, for people in sales the number might be 25. The number is not as critical as committing to a daily plan of action to consistently reach whatever number you choose. Set your goal at earning a specific number of contact points per day. If you finish the day with a number of points less than what you have established, you did not achieve your personal goal that day.


This is an insert into the page ---
“Common wisdom in the business community says that although many executives can move a project to 98 percent of completion, only a few actually finish the last 2 percent successfully. I see this “2 Percent Rule” at work all the time; people achieve true success and growth in their business or personal life, only to stop short of fully accomplishing their goals. They do well, but they never quite live up to their full potential; they just cannot seem to push past the “one-yard line” that separates them from peak performance.” The Seven Minute Difference, pg. 156




Page 2 of The Daily Progress Report

Page two of the Daily Progress Report is divided into four sections with space to track your appointments and/or how you actually spent your day. There is also a place to track the thank you notes you write. Thank you notes should be handwritten and mailed. Make it a choice to take just five or 10 minutes every day to let people know that you appreciate their skills, efforts and abilities. This may seem like a small thing, but it has huge benefits.


On page two of the Daily Progress Report there is also room to list all of your voicemail messages, and a large area for you to take any notes from the day. Remember that one of the keys to increasing your organizational skills is to have one safe place to keep all of your daily information.


Is it really possible to simplify your life down to one question?


Image: Did I do what I said I would do?


Yes. Not only is it possible, but also it’s necessary in order to meet your goals. Once you have clearly defined your priorities, articulated your purpose in life, and established written goals and action steps to fulfill your purpose, then the only thing left for you to do is do it!


The 7 Minute Life® Daily Planner is a proactive planner that empowers you to say what you want to do and do what you say you’ll do. When you set a goal, you are creating an emotional commitment between yourself and that goal. It is the tiny “wins”—the small daily accomplishments—that encourage you to continue making the right choices, like choosing how much sleep you will get, what you will eat, how much water you will drink, and finishing your 5 before 11®. It really is as simple as doing what you say you will do. This is simplicity. And simplicity brings an incredible sense of joy.



Change Your Life in 7 Minutes a Day

The 7 Minute Life® Daily Planner will help you unlock your purpose, potential, and passion to transform your professional and personal life. Focusing on activities that capture your attention and excite your soul gives you boundless energy and provides a new sense of meaning and fulfillment. Become intentional about these activities and make them a consistent part of your daily life. Now is the time to proactively determine where your focus will be and how you live the rest of your life.

What if you took just 7 minutes a day to create a daily written plan of action? This planner will teach you how to:

  • Reignite the passion for your daily work
  • Unlock your purpose, knowledge, and strengths
  • Clarify your goals
  • Establish realistic priorities and written action steps
  • Prioritize, Organize, and Simplify® your work for greater productivity
  • Implement time management techniques to reclaim your day
  • Turn your ideas into action

Are you ready to join The 7 Minute Life Community?





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