Everyone today is busy. We compare our lives by boasting about how little free time we have. It’s as though we wear busyness as a badge of honor. What would you do if you could add hours back to your schedule? What would you achieve with extra time? Keep reading to learn the one Soldier secret that allows you achieve greater results with less time.
Soldier Secret: Harness the Power of Deadlines.
Every mission must be accomplished by a set time. Other Soldiers and units depend on your mission being completed by the scheduled deadline.
We all have the same 24 hours each day. The real advantage of productive people is how they use those 24 hours. Setting hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly deadlines provide power, focus, urgency, and intensity to your routines.
As I write this, football season is in the midst of playoffs. Each team has their eye on one goal: get to the Super Bowl. Each game is made up of 60 minutes, no more, no less. Teams have to focus all of their energy on one goal for that limited amount of time. If they waste time or make foolish mistakes, they risk loosing a chance to play in the biggest game of the year.
On missions, Soldiers have a clearly defined objective such as “take that hill no later than 1000.” The deadline and mission establish the Soldiers focus by clearly stating the task and purpose. How can you clarify your focus?
Let’s continue with the football analogy. Have you noticed how the tempo increases toward the end of each game? Teams build momentum as the clock winds down. Fourth quarter and a counting timer set a firm limitation. As soon as the buzzer goes off, there is never another chance to win.
Because military units rely on the success of other units to complete their missions, each Soldier understands the sense of urgency and importance attached to completing their mission in the required time frame.
Create internal deadlines to force yourself to work against the clock. It is just like the high school essay you put off until the last-minute. The deadline loomed over you for two weeks, but it wasn’t until the night before it was due that the sense of urgency really sunk in. The pressure of bombing a major assignment forced you to work swiftly in order to meet the deadline.Create internal deadlines to force yourself to work against the clock.
Focus and urgency define intensity. In football, just as on the battlefield, teamwork and cohesion increase as goal becomes closer and time runs short. Emotions are heightened. They either perform at their best or make mistakes.
You will always work with greater intensity as the deadline looms. Think back to that high school essay again. You worked quickly, but you also gained greater clarity about your writing and what it would take to “make the grade.” You knew the deadline was reachable if you worked intensely.
How I Use Deadlines to Achieve Greater Results With Less Time
Last year, my wife and I attend a marriage enrichment retreat known as World Wide Marriage Encounter. It was a great opportunity to get to know her better and build a deeper commitment and relationship.
One of the greatest takeaways from the retreat was the idea of limiting the amount of time you spend writing and sharing your feelings with your spouse. Their explanation was: if you spent more than ten focused minutes sharing and discussing, the conversation would move from expressing feelings and personal connection into trying to problem solve. Problem solving often devolves into arguments over trivial items that will divide the marriage.
In practice, I can tell you that limiting the time my wife and I discuss marriage issues to ten minutes each night has provided a sense of focus, urgency, and intensity in our marriage. For those ten minutes, we block out the distractions of the world (yes, the kids too) and focus purely on each other.
We have to think and share quickly and honestly because our time is limited. Urgency provides a level of transparency and openness we could not achieve in other ways.
The limited time frame allows us to focus intensely on growing our relationship and strengthening our marriage. The intensity of the feelings we express usually remind us of our early dating days and the connection we shared.
Deadlines are powerful. They provide firm boundaries and expectations. Deadlines force you to focus intensely with urgency to accomplish greater results in less time.
Have you ever harnessed the power of deadlines? Share your story.