Time Management with Jones Loflin

Reading Time: 16 Minutes

In this episode with author Jones Loflin he shares a refreshing perspective on time management, productivity, and decision-making. 

Takeaways We Learned from Jones…

Be Present with Your Team

Jones Loflin emphasizes, “be present in the moment with your team.” This practice fosters active listening, powerful questioning, and a deep understanding of team motivations. Encourage your followers to eliminate distractions and fully engage in the moment for more meaningful interactions and heightened productivity.

Juggling Elephants – Managing Work-Life Balance

Loflin’s metaphor of “juggling elephants” vividly illustrates the overwhelming nature of balancing work, personal relationships, and self-care. He suggests viewing life as a circus that requires thoughtful management rather than seeking an unattainable state of balance. This perspective encourages your audience to prioritize and focus on what truly matters.

The Importance of Stopping

“Stop, you know, you got to stop and think about what’s going on,” advises Jones. This takeaway invites individuals to pause amidst their busy lives to reflect on their true priorities and what might be getting neglected. It’s a call to reassess and ensure that they are not just busy but productive and fulfilling their goals and relationships effectively.

Being a Better Ringmaster of Your Circus

Loflin’s advice to become more intentional about managing time and energy, despite feeling out of control, serves as a powerful reminder. It challenges your followers to question what they can control and how to use it wisely, emphasizing the importance of taking charge of their own time and priorities.

Choice Management over Time Management

“It really is about the choices,” Loflin states, pushing the idea that managing schedules, energy, and tasks is more actionable and impactful than trying to manage time itself. Encouraging your audience to start their days with clear intentions can empower them to make choices that align with their goals and priorities.

Facing Email Overload with 321 Zero

Loflin’s strategy for managing email by checking it three times a day, spending 21 minutes each session, and aiming for an inbox of zero offers a practical method to regain control over one of the most common workplace distractions. It’s a call to your audience to establish boundaries and be more intentional with their digital communication.

Intentional Inflexibility for Personal Boundaries

Loflin’s concept of “intentional inflexibility” about what’s important, such as a morning routine or designated family time, underscores the value of setting and respecting personal boundaries. This advice inspires your audience to identify and commit to their non-negotiables for personal well-being and effectiveness.

About Jones Loflin

Jones Loflin has made it his life’s work to deliver powerful ideas and practical solutions to individuals and organizations struggling with too much to do. His books are described as “illuminating” and his presentations as “unforgettable.”

As well as a successful speaker, Jones is also the co-author/author of four books including; Always Growing, Juggling Elephants and Getting To It. He has also worked as a senior trainer on the best selling book, Who Moved My Cheese?, training individuals from over 15 countries, and presenting to over 275 different groups, ranging in size from 25 to 8000.

Read the Transcript

Allison: Welcome to the Deliberate Leaders podcast. I am your host and executive business coach Allison Dunn. Our guest today is Jones Loflin. He is a co author and author of several books, including always growing juggling elephants and getting through it. He has made it its life’s work to deliver powerful ideas and practical solutions to individuals and organizations struggling with to do with doing too much.

Jones: No one struggles with that do they don’t know, just couple people. So I work has been really scarce lately, because everybody just gets everything done.

Allison: That’s amazing. Your work is magic. I love to kick these off with a deliberate conversation. What would be your number one leadership tip for our listeners today.

Jones: Number one leadership tip for your listeners today is…

To be present with your team be present in the moment with your team.

And there’s all kinds of things that fall out of that it’s active listening, it’s asking powerful questions, it’s picking up on their motivations, but be present in the moment. Don’t be distracted by other things.

Allison: That’s a fantastic tip. One thing that I recognize that pulls me out of the present is often when we’re in a team meeting, I go back for a detail on my phone. And that is the quickest way to get sucked out of a meeting. So that would be one thing that I’d suggest that if you’re wanting to be present that you set your device down.

Jones: Yeah. Yeah. So absolutely.

Allison: Thank you. Juggling elephants, tell me what that’s all about. How did you come up with that name, and it’s about work life balance. So I love the visual that that gives me tell us more.

Jones: Thank you. And yeah, the whole idea of juggling elephants is what it feels like when you’re trying to get everything done. Whether that’s work and the relationships in our life, or just time for ourselves that it just, it just feels like it’s overwhelming, and it’s heavy and things fall on us and, and cause all kinds of stress in our lives. So that’s the problem. And then the solution growing out of that is the whole idea that you need to manage your work in life, like it’s a circus. And so there’s a lot of pieces there that we can break down and look at today. But the whole idea is about, you know how to get your most important things done. And the reality is, I wouldn’t say this, you won’t hear us talk about work life balance in the book, because balance implies a static state when things aren’t changing. When was that for you? Allison? 2004? Maybe?

Allison: Not actually, exactly me either. And so it’s about being and I mentioned a moment ago, it’s about being present in the right reading at the right moment, or being present, wherever you are, and doing your best work there before you jump into something else.

Allison: So again, love the visual of like, you know, managing a circus, what are some of the key tips that you would suggest? Or how we how we can effectively juggle our elephants? Because we all have them?

Jones: Sure, absolutely. As I said, I tell people, I don’t have elephants, and I’ll be dead, and it won’t matter. So you know, at that point, because we do throughout our lives. Number one tip is it that I encourage people to do is to stop, you know, you got to stop and think about what’s going on. In fact, I have a question that I asked it many of my keynotes or training sessions or coaching sessions, and I’ll say in your drive to get it all done, what’s not getting done, or getting done well. And that just precipitates out in some really rich discussions about for some people teaching stuff at work. For some people, it’s the relationship thing for some people, it’s me time, you know, whatever it might be.

So I think that’s the first step and along with that, then that that next piece is being a better ringmaster of your circus. There’s a fun moment when I’ll ask people, I’ll say how many of you in the room in the auditorium would say you’re the ringmaster of your circus and about half the group will raise their hand the other half won’t. And I know why you didn’t raise your hand because you’re saying I’m not in control of everything. Neither is the ringmaster of a circus. They have a certain defined role. And that’s their job to carry out and so many of us, don’t, I think get more intentional about managing our time and energy, because we just feel out of control. And the question is, what do you have control of? And if it’s 30 minutes a day, an hour a week? A couple hours a week? Are you using that time wisely? To get to some of those things you told me earlier? That you don’t have time for that you’re not getting to?

Allison: Do you find that when people answer that like just even using like an audience’s setting? Is it things that are important or are they choosing to not Do the things well that aren’t important, like, where does that fall in the spectrum?

Jones: Hmm, that’s a loaded question. How much time do we have three hours of this? I find that generally people talk about some important things, but they’re not necessarily big things. You know, you’re all about growing leaders. A lot of times, if I’m in a leadership type group, someone will say, I’m not getting FaceTime with my team members. You know, they’re not getting that chance to talk with him and find out what’s going on, how can they best serve them? For some people, it’s, you know, if they’re a parent of young children, it’s like, I want more time with my child. And, and normally, I’ll ask them, if it’s on a coaching sale, say, what would that look like? And they don’t say I want 10 hours a week, that’s if I just had 30 minutes of uninterrupted time per day, that would be helpful. So I normally find it is the important things, but they’re not normally big things.

Allison: I just can’t affirm how true that is. It’s often the little, it’s just the little things that make a really big difference, and wrangle that in and get control of that. You have a awesome twist on the idea of time management. It’s not about time management, it’s about choice management. So give us give us sort of the goal around that thinking and how people can shift that perspective or Sure.

Jones: And I won’t get the quote exactly right. But Charlie Gilkey had a great quote about how, you know, schedules can be managed, energy can be managed, people can be managed time can only be accounted for, you know, it’s a lag measure that we look at it. So it really is about the choices.

I believe it’s about the choices we make each make each day that get us to the outcome we’re looking for.

In the book, we talked about creating the right lineup, you know, what are the choices you’re going to make today to get to that outcome that you’re looking for? And in those choices, Allison, start really early in the day. I know none of your listeners do this. But you know, a great way to frame your day is to start today going? What are my goals? What are my priorities? What do I what do I want to accomplish?

And I’m sure none of your listeners actually pick up that phone next to their bed and kind of scroll through social media or check their email or slack messages. You know, none of us do that. I mean, you’re letting other people make the choice to be the ringmaster of your circus instead of you going, what do I want? Now you got to check those messages, you got to do those other things. But starting our days by saying what do I want? I think it’s such a powerful way to reframe the choices we’re going to make throughout the day.

Allison: When you’re coaching someone who has too much to do, or thinks that they have too much to do, where do you start?

Jones: I have this slide that I typically use or if I’m face to face, I’ll just ask you, I’m old school, I might have a piece of paper, you know, I put it in front of them. And it has 23 different types of overload. And it comes from a book called margin Margin, which was very a pivotal book and in inspiring me to want to focus on this whole idea of work life success, work life balance, whatever we’re calling it. And, and so I’ll usually say I say, pick the ones that are most applicable to you right now. And there’s things like decision overload, choice overload, noise overload, pollution, overload, people overload, there’s all these different types of overload.

And so I’ll ask them to, you know, pick two or three, so now prioritize if we could work with one today, which one will be helpful? And I find that that gets them a little more focused. Because so often, as you know, Allison, people who have too much to do going on, you say, Well, what’s going on that’s causing you to feel like that? Oh, everything. I’m like, That’s not helpful. You know, I need you to pick one.

The old adage of how do you eat an elephant, one bite at a time, I think how do you juggle elephants is picking one elephant you want to deal with and then coming up with a habit or routine to manage that within the confines of the discretionary time that that you have.

Allison: I would like your help and coaching me through something that I would say a lot of people struggle with. And so I think that this would be really valuable to have some good practices, but I’m sure you’re going to you’re going to help me figure out the next level. I have team members who work in other locations, so we’re not in the same office together. I’m sure many people listening also feel that way. And I feel even though I have good habits, I’m still slave to email. Me.

Jones: It’s over. You’ve worn My heart Allison, this is so touching my favorite framework for email. And you’ve I know you’ve heard of it’s called 321. Zero. And it is a powerful tool. And your listeners are gonna laugh when I first opened it up, okay, but here’s the deal 321 Zero, you check your email three times a day, you stay in it 21 times each time you check it, and you get your inbox back to zero. Now, your listeners are going, I’ve got 20,000 emails, and if I would check my email three times a day, I’d get fired. And I understand that. But think about the beauty of what that structure is. Three represents the number of times you check your email, we’re not intentional about that are so many people aren’t you know, they, they grab their phone, I’m just going to check my email, and they’re 20 minutes later, they’re still in there. But it causes you to say, how many times a day do I check it? And how could you check it less?

You know, you know, and so that’s the first step. The second step is that 21 minutes is, you know, anytime we time ourselves is will move faster. And if you say to yourself, I’ve got 30 minutes to check my email, and we set a time, then we’re going to work faster to get whatever it is that we want to get done. Which leads us to the last one that Inbox Zero, maybe your goal was just to process the emails that have come in since the last time you checked, maybe it is to get your top 50 processed, or maybe it is just to take care of the dumpster fires that are in your email, but it’s having a plan when you go into your email or say I’m going to check it. And then we just go all kinds of directions. So that’s my strongest tip. And you got to make it work for yourself. Like say maybe it’s 530 and 20,000. I don’t know. But that’s the strategy, I would suggest.

Allison: Okay, so for those of us who are like, I can’t do that help me like shift my thinking, to how do I actually get it to zero? Like, what do I need to let go of in my own thinking that prevents that? And I’m not alone, right?

Jones: Oh, no, no, no, no, you’re not. One of the things that I encourage my coaching clients to do if they if that’s a hangout for them, oh, zero, you know, there’s a, there’s several options, one of them is you can simply take and copy those emails into an old email folder, you know, you can leave the top 100 there and take the rest and just copy them over to a folder. It’s old email, so they’re still there. So you can work with them when you want to, but they’re not in your line of sight, you’re not feeling overwhelmed when you click in your inbox and go, oh, there’s 7000 in there. So you know, I think that’s one option.

Another option I encourage people to do is to set aside some time, get your favorite beverage for me, it’d be decaf coffee with little bit of cream. And maybe you just start, you know, plowing through those emails, you know, tell your family one Saturday morning, you’re not going to see me this morning, this afternoon, I’ll reappear, and you just chop through them. And then maybe you throw in some over to, you know, a file folder or whatever. And there’s, there’s all kinds of strategies for getting through those. But that’s the second one, a third one. This is a fun one. Your listeners won’t use it. But it’s fun one to talk about is email bankruptcy is where you send out an email to everyone your contact list, say if you’ve sent me anything in the past 30 days, then I have declared email bankruptcy send it again. It’s a fun one to talk about. But anyway, so those are the big things is you either need to just get it out of the box, so that you can feel refreshed or invest that time to go through it and get those emails where they need to go so that you can start fresh.

Allison: Yeah. Do you have any tips on how to simply unsubscribe from things? Is there any tools that you have about that?

Jones: Oh, what is the and I’m sorry, I, I personally there’s a there’s a program that you can actually connect to your email. Yeah. And you probably know what I can’t think of on top of my head right now. But some people use that and it will tell you, hey, here are all the things you’re subscribed to. You know, do you want to unsubscribe you from them? Yeah. So that’s one. The other thing is I find that, that if you’re in your email, and something pops up, go, oh, that’s a newsletter. I really, I never read that newsletter. Take the 30 seconds to unsubscribe, you know, if not, it just sits there and clogs up your inbox.

Allison: It really does. I’d say I feel like email is the one thing that I never feel like I ever get enough to. And I recognize that that’s so like reactive versus proactive and like owning all of it. You said when you sit down with clients, you have a sheet of 21 What was the word you use?

Jones: Talks of overload, like all different ways they feel overloaded, because they’re working on The premise that can get it all done and when you show him that sheet of overload they go, I’m not getting it all dot AMA. No, you’re not. And so then they begin to identify where the pressure is. So we can work with that. Yeah. 

Allison: What is the number one type of overload that you coach to? And the most consistent? Your? I pick the number one, which would be email.

Jones: That’s close. No, actually, it usually, it’s interesting.

It’s choice overload and activity overload. Okay. And, and the choice is, you know, it’s not between a good choice, a bad choice, it’s been good and better.

You know, I want to do this Jones, I want to invest more time my day to this, but I make this choice. And then for other people, it’s just the sheer volume of activity they have. And and again, you have to tie it back into that original question, and your drive to get it all done, what’s not getting done or not getting done well. So they can understand the correlation between we need to figure out where can we reduce activity or change activity so you can get to those other things.

Allison: Fantastic. Thank you. That’s super helpful. Jones, I’m super curious, what is something new that you’re learning these days?

Jones: Wow, something new I’m learning about one of one of my favorite things I’ve learned about recently.

A short thing is intentional and flexibility. It’s just a fun phrase to say, but intentional in flexibility. And it’s, it’s deciding what is important to you, and then setting those boundaries around it and then being inflexible.

And so it’s kind of a fun way to bring together several concepts. But I posted on LinkedIn, I think about a week ago, and I said, you know, I’d written a blog about it and some other things. But I said, Tell me what your intentional flexibility things are. You know, and it was interesting, some of the things that people would say, for some people, it’s a walk first thing in the morning, for some people, it’s one person had an evening routine they use so they can sleep well.

But again, I think it’s important to ask ourselves, what is it that’s that I’m, you know, intentionally inflexible about so that I can be at my best? You know, I think that’s important. Of course, Allison, I’ll get ahead of you. Because you’re going to say, Jones, what are some of the things you’re intentionally inflexible about? And I would suggest each other? Yeah, exactly. We’re all friends. So for me, it’s my morning routine. You know, it when I get up first thing in the morning, you know, I got a coffee, I have my quiet time, do a little bit of journaling. And then I read for 15 minutes, I set a timer. Because that way, I don’t get too deep into a book, but also stick with a book for 15 minutes, that I exercise, that I spend some time, usually I get to take a walk with my wife or singing the morning, but that just that just so frames my day, and I will not unless it’s an emergency or something really weird going on. I will not flex on that, because that’s important, too. 

Allison: Well, I hope I can take a page out of your book and just call it deliberate.

Jones: Yeah. Yeah, you take it, because I don’t know where the other one came from. But you asked me one morning. The other thing that I’m working on, that I’m learning about these days, is, of course, AI, you know, using it in my business to accelerate the things that I’m doing to have larger impact. And so that’s something that I’m really enjoying the journey with as well.

Allison: Okay, how are you using AI in your business currently, right now, in its most effective way, for year?

Jones: Absolutely.

I use AI to be able to be creative, or to brainstorm.

You know, guys, you know, when you got a team in the room, you decided to start popping, but if you are your business, then generally it’s a little harder to sit there and go, oh, I want to be creative right now. And how do I do? So for me, I might get an idea. And I’ll come up with a couple of things. And then I will create a prompt in Jasper as the AI use. But and then I’ll say, you know, give me seven ideas or give me five ideas.

And it’s amazing how it pops things out. And usually it gets me about 50 to 60% of the way there. Especially because it’s learned my voice. And so for anything that’s a writing or a video scripting type thing I am, I put out a weekly video to some to my subscribers, three minutes or less, and so I needed to be really pithy. You know, I don’t want to take a lot of time from people. And so I find that if I kind of drop my ideas and say make it shorter, or make it snappier or, you know, let it help me with that, then that’s, that’s the most efficient way I have found for me at this point, and that’s scratching about what 10% of the surface of what he’s capable of.

Allison: I have not used the one that you’re using, which you said is Jasper Correct. Is it creating any graphics for you?

Jones: No, I have not gotten into. That’s next for me. In fact, I’m probably going to delegate that is I could get lost with that all day. But I have a client services manager that works with me. And I’m probably going to toss that to Tiffany and say, learn this.

Allison: I found that, at least the way I use the chats GPT. One, I find that it does have a lot of spelling errors, which you can’t fix when it’s I was hoping, like, yes.

Jones: No, no, I’ll have to I’ll have to watch one of your future segments to learn what you know what if you get a future guest on there? Also not watch it and learn?

Allison: Well, as soon as I do, I will make sure I share it with you. Absolutely. Jones, when we first started this conversation, you said you were in New York, speaking at an event. Tell us what else what you’re showing people on today?

Jones: I am working with the game changer, app team. They are a division of Dick’s Sporting Goods. And they are game changers an app that that if you have children or youth in local sports, it keeps rosters sends out notifications, you can video through the app, and then the parents who’ve signed on. So it’s just an app to help manage that whole sporting event type thing. So they’re having their annual meeting here in New York City tomorrow. So I’ll be working with them on of all things. Work life balance, too much to do, because the company’s growing fast. People are hybrid and remote, and they’re just working themselves too much. And so I’m going to work with the team tomorrow.

Allison: Oh, fantastic. Well, I wish you the best of luck at that. And hopefully, you can change our game changers. So that’s all.

Jones: That’s all. I’ll use that tomorrow. So that’s good. Yeah, please do.

Allison: Jones, it has been such a pleasure to catch up with you. Thank you for the tips on Manage My managing my email to 321 Zero. I will let you know how that goes. Please do. And just very much appreciate our time together today. So thank you.

Jones: Oh, it has been a delight. Allison, I look forward to a future opportunity. Thanks for the work you’re doing. I mean, I so love your theme of developing, you know, developing your people and growing your business. I mean, that’s because that’s what it’s about, you know, and whatever we can do to help make that happen. That’s a good thing. Awesome. Thank you.

I'm Allison Dunn,

Your Business Executive Coach

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