When I first started learning project management, I learned the three basic concepts (known as the triple constraints) of scope, schedule, and cost. All projects have a start and an end and must be delivered on an agreed upon scope, on schedule, and within costs. Having these constraints allowed me to focus on all the tasks that must be done in order to complete a project on time. If more tasks became a part of the project, I then evaluated whether or not those tasks are a part of the agreed upon scope. If not, I did not have to worry about them since they don’t contribute to the end goal. See the diagram below.
Similarly, when I work towards building something positive in my life, I like to think about it in terms of the triple constraints of energy, time, and focus on a daily basis. These three constraints are the constraints that YOU have to deal with regardless of what you are working on.
Each day, you wake up with a set amount of energy. Depending on the quality of your sleep and how healthy you are, that amount of energy may change over time. However, day-to-day, you wake up with a similar amount of energy that you can expend. Since your energy for any given day is a fixed amount, you want to get the most value out of it. Instead of wasting and depleting that valuable energy on pointless arguments, excessive TV viewing, or unproductive mundane tasks, you want to use that energy to build something that you find valuable and meaningful. You want to use that energy on something creative and fulfilling. Whether that be developing an important presentation, creating a beautiful piece of art, or building your own business, you want to spend the majority of your valuable energy on something that MATTERS. You want to spend it on something that aligns with your passion in life. After all, once you use that energy, it is gone. You won’t have it back until you wake up the next morning.
Although the energy that you wake up with each morning generally stays the same, you want to nurture your body so that you can refill your energy tank and increase it in the long run. Make sure you eat healthy, exercise regularly, and alleviate stress. The more stress you have, the quicker you will deplete your energy storage. If you stress out over things that you have absolutely no control over, you’ll quickly deplete your energy and have nothing left over for more productive activities. Your mind and body are ultimately connected, so make sure to take care of both.
You, and everyone else on this planet, only have twenty-four hours to use each day. If you factor in sleep, you have closer to sixteen hours. In that respect, we are all on an even playing field. You want to spend as much of that time as possible working on something that you find valuable and generates satisfaction and fulfillment. If I had to choose between using two hours to work on my business or two hours to play video games, I would rather spend it building my business. If you are looking for resources to help you free up more time so you can dedicate it to something more productive, feel free to check out my resources page.
Ultimately, time is a constraint that we all have. It is up to us how we choose to spend our time. I recommend spending as much time as possible doing something to help you achieve your goals, better yourself, and better the world around you.
I believe your focus is your most important constraint. It is the constraint that you have the most control over. You can’t control how much time you have in a day nor can you control how much energy you wake up with. However, you do have full control on how to direct and focus your free energy and time.
Instead of focusing on watching TV, updating Facebook, and arguing with your friends over politics, which would drain your energy, direct your focus over to accomplishing your goals and doing things that bring you true fulfillment. By focusing on the things that matter the most to you every single day, you allow yourself to spend your valuable time and creative energy on those things. You improve the quality of your work, allow yourself to make the most out of your talents and maximize your chances of achieving your goals.
One trap that a lot of people fall into is that they focus too much on their results. When the results aren’t there, they start to stress out. They start to give up when they aren’t where they want to be. Instead, direct your focus towards the work and effort you put in, the way you spend your energy and the way you spend your time. By directing your focus in this manner, you’ll be doing everything in your power to achieve your goals. Remember to enjoy and appreciate the journey and let go of the results. Ultimately, it is the journey towards your goal that will bring you the most joy and create the most fulfilling experiences.
Hopefully, by viewing each day within the context of energy, time, and focus, you’ll be able to more effectively and efficiently work towards your goals. It should allow you to ignore the “clutter” in your life and direct you to what is important. Whatever you direct your focus, energy, and time towards, you add layers to the mountain you are ultimately building. If you direct those resources to a million things that don’t matter to you, you end up with many little piles that you don’t care about. If you direct it to something you DO care about, you will eventually complete that mountain. We are only on this planet for 80 years if we are lucky, why not spend it working on something that is meaningful to us?
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