How to be Incredibly Popular

Liz Sumner Commitment, Time Management, Value Leave a Comment

I designed my first time management system when I was in my 20s. It was called Frieda and Rita’s How to Be Incredibly Popular Datebook, co-created with my beloved friend, Rogene Manas.

We made it as a Christmas gift. I no longer have a copy of the finished product, it was lost in a move over the years, but my memory of it still cracks me up. The calendar was laid out so that the vast majority of space was allocated for evenings, weekends, and lunches. We had recipes for hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, and instructions for how to throw a party (“Invite 75-100 of your closest friends.”) This was what my 20-something self thought was most important.

I’m smiling as I think of it both for the memories of that period and those friends, and also because I realize that I’m still working with people on how to manage their time.

Now clients come to me wanting to find some system that will make it possible to do it all. Everything they want plus everything else– their passion projects as well as the have-tos.  If they just had the right schedule they’d get up at 5:00 every morning to meditate/exercise/write. They’d use those spare moments to call the electrician/make that appointment/read a great book instead of checking Facebook/Instagram/WhatsApp.

Here’s what I believe. An external schedule may remind you of some boundaries that you intend to uphold, but it will not make you use your time in ways that aren’t aligned with your deeply-held values. It will not make you do what you don’t want to do. The only way to change your behavior long-term is to “want to”with the strength of a level 4 or 5 commitment, and to recognize and address conflicting promises to yourself.

This could mean choosing to focus on your children or your aging parent with renewed love and energy. Or it could be letting go of the volunteer work whose mission still moves you but it’s time to let someone else take over. Not everything can be a top priority and always putting others’ needs before your own is not sustainable.

Time is precious and finite. Energy is renewable when you’re living aligned with your values. Finding both is possible but it comes from within, not from a calendar. I know a way to get there, and it’s making me incredibly popular.


For help reclaiming your time and energy, schedule a conversation with Liz.

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