Isn’t it amazing the return we can get on our time? Well, sometimes it is. I was at the virtual worlds forum hosted SXSWi event last night. It was an interesting insight into a different world, quite literally. If you want to get a feel for what Virtual World technology can do, then check out Pelican Software’s site. I think the technology holds a lot of promise for connecting people, but that is a matter for a future post – I was talking about time.

Time is such an interesting thing, mastery of it is key for productivity, leadership and definitely for effective presenting. Lots of literature focuses on the idea that time can not be created or destroyed, and the fact that you can’t manage time, you can only manage yourself. I don’t know enough about quantum physics to verify that claim, but I do know that getting a grip on time is essential. How do you do it? Here is one approach: Make time your friend, by taking hold of it – look forwards and look backwards.

Take control of the Future

A plan is a to do list spread over time, together with a commentary or narrative. The most powerful property of time is that it stops everything happening to you at once, and for that I am very grateful! Take your list of what you want to achieve, and lay it out over time and record the reasons that items are there in that order. This is the fastest way to create a plan and the best way to take hold of long term time. Looking back through my life, I see a consistent pattern: The things I have achieved have been the things that I wrote down and planned to achieve. Sometimes they didn’t happen until long after I forgot about them, but they did happen. This will work for you too.

Take control of the Past

For whatever reason, I remember technical facts, faces and concepts really well. However, most days I can’t remember where I was at breakfast without deep thought. Maybe you are different, tell me about it. For me that means keeping a journal is an essential activity if I want to be able to look back over the past. I use my electronic diary and also create a journal entry to record the significant thinking or changes from that day. Again, looking back, the times I have made the most progress are when I have been diligent in keeping a journal. Those journals have been a rich resource for self-discovery.

Going back to last night’s event, I met Gavin from Rememble. , a thoroughly nice chap with a thoroughly nice life tool. The site’s strap line is “write your story from wherever you are”, which gives you a sense of what the site is about, and brings me to my last point. To quote from the site, Rememble “reinvent[s] the simple diary in a way that helps us make sense of the world and our journey through it, by putting the valuable digital evidence of the stories of our life into order” on a memble line, a bit like a washing line that you can hang txts, pictures and the like on.

Let Time Create the Story

Here’s the thing, this happened, then this happened and then this happened. That’s a story. If you are presenting, story is key to keeping the audience’s attention. If you are leading, story is key to creating alignment across the organisation. If you want to be productive, understanding the story is key to knowing what you need to do. A journal enables you to look back through your story and make sense of it. A plan is the map for your future.

What’s your story?