Break out of the Time Warp

Jeanne E. Nyquist
President, Nyquist & Associates, Inc.
Tigard, Oregon
Presenter, 2005 APWA Congress

Do you frantically rush from task to task without a feeling of accomplishment? Do you fall into bed exhausted at night and curse the alarm in the morning? Do you find yourself unable to deeply enjoy activities with family and friends? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you're caught in the Time Warp. Want out? Take two steps forward, then follow the BSMART path.

Step One: Make a commitment to reduce stress. Your life may depend on it. Recent studies show that stress is a major factor in the development of hypertension, the world's number-one disease. Researchers discovered that job-related stress alone has a significant impact on overall health, resulting in higher rates of heart disease and other physical ailments. Resolve to take control and reduce negative stressors in your life, both at work and at home.

Step Two: Change your thinking about time management. Understand that managing energy, not time, is key to high performance and personal fulfillment. In business, we focus on developing and using our mental energy. But, we can reap great benefits by balancing and integrating all of our energy sources—mental, physical, emotional and spiritual.

Follow the BSMART Path:

B = Balance your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual energy. Develop strength, endurance, flexibility and resilience in all dimensions. Train your mind through continual learning. Strengthen your body through regular exercise. Develop emotional resilience by learning to bounce back from disappointments and loss. Cultivate spiritual strength by committing to your deepest values and tolerating beliefs that are different from your own.

S = Synchronize by drawing your blueprint. At the end of each workday, take a few minutes to list actions you need to accomplish the next day to move you toward your most important goals. Write them down! Your mind will effortlessly work on this list during other activities, including sleep. As a result, you'll be surprised the next day with synchronistic opportunities to link people and resources to accomplish your goals.

M = Maximize energy through physical exercise. I know...this is the last thing you wanted to hear. But, it is critical. Thirty minutes per day is optimal, but just five minutes will make a big difference on a busy day. Exercise improves sleep, reduces stress, enhances digestion and increases performance. In a study of 80 executives, those who worked out regularly demonstrated a whopping 70% improvement in their ability to make complex decisions. Do two cardio and two strength training sessions per week. An added benefit—you'll look great!

A = Act on your goals. Concentrate on the most important actions that will have the greatest impact on achieving your goals. Tell others about your goals and ask for their help. Spend most of your time every week doing what you do best and find other people who enjoy doing the rest.

R = Relax. Humans are designed to rhythmically spend and renew energy in a natural rhythm like the ebb and flow of tides. Elite athletes gain peak performance through interval training—periods of exertion alternating with periods of rest or lower activity. You can also be most effective by rhythmically spending and renewing energy in 90-120 minute intervals throughout your day. Alternate challenging tasks with easy ones. Take a break. Go outside for even three minutes and just breathe. The time you spend relaxing will pay for itself tenfold.

T = Think. Access positive thoughts and emotions throughout the day. Be a mental martial artist. The dark and the light are present at all times. The warrior understands that both exist, but focuses his or her energy on the light. Especially practice reflective thinking at the end of the day. Identify positive actions or behaviors to repeat tomorrow. Make a mental checklist of things and people you are thankful for.

Start now. Make a commitment. Change your thinking. Follow the BSMART path. Reap the benefits of a balanced, healthy, fulfilling life.

Jeanne Nyquist is a former member of APWA's Leadership and Management Committee and the Editorial Advisory Board of the APWA Reporter. She will present an educational session at the 2005 APWA Congress at 11:00 a.m. Monday, September 12, entitled "Break Out of the Time Warp." She can be reached at (503) 476-6520 or