After reading the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (aff) and getting very excited about the concepts it suggested, I tried very hard to implement the system. I followed the instructions to the letter (see my previous post here).
When DayTimer came out with 7 Habits Forms, I was in heaven. After all, here were all the forms I needed, ready to put into my precious DayTimer, and after filling them out, surely I would have it all together! I thought that my problems with the system had to do with it not integrating into my day-to-day life. All the “trivia” of my life had been neglected before as I put everything aside to work on important projects. Integrating the 7 Habits with the planner that held all that trivia would surely give me a handle on all aspects of my life.
What the System Offered
The DayTimer forms offered a weekly form where I could list my appointments, and also set forth goals for the week for each of my roles. It was a compact all-in-one-glance approach to the 7 Habits implementation.
How I Used This System
I used this system for a better part of a year. Each Monday I filled out the sheet for the week and diligently listed all the important stuff as well as the non-important stuff that needed to get done. The planner sat open on my desk at work, and was handy all the time at home, so I looked at it frequently.
Unfortunately, seeing everything there led to a complete crushing of my desire to do anything. I needed to do my laundry, but I hadn’t worked on my spiritual goal for the week. My refrigerator was empty, but I hadn’t written to one of my relatives that week.
Now the trivia of my life wasn’t being ignored, but it was contributing to a general meltdown as I became overloaded.
What I learned from the 7 Habits Days
A form or system does not cure everything.
This system was great on the idealistic side. However, the actual using of the forms did not make my life magically better or more meaningful.
If There Is Too Much on My Plate, I Freeze
If there is too much to do, I become paralyzed with indecision about what I should be doing, and nothing gets done. This was an important lesson for me, and I’ve had to modify all systems I’ve tried since these days to take that personal feature into account.
I Can’t Be Everything To Everyone
The roles that I listed during these days I felt obligated to keep up. I felt obligated to keep in touch with everyone in my extended family…even though most of them had never bothered to contact me or even knew who I was. Listing out my roles and having limited space pointed out key things about roles:
- not all roles need to be supported at any one time
- not all roles are equally worthy of my time and energy (this was a dawning concept, but I didn’t really implement it until a few years later
- I cannot accomplish something on everything all the time. There is not enough time in the day.
I Don’t Have To Follow A System Exactly
This was another dawning of thought that didn’t really get implemented until later. I began to see that if a system didn’t completely work for me, it wasn’t necessarily my fault.
The 7 Habits Forms Got Me Into the Habit of Looking at Goals
I still struggle with this to a certain extent, but this phase in the journey showed me the benefits of knowing what is on my plate and to look at the bigger picture of how I fit into my life.