Smith, H.W. (1994). The 10 natural laws of successful time and life management: Proven strategies for increased productivity and inner peace. New York: Warner.
Time management is a critical issue for those who are stressed from work, feel pressure to achieve more, and are frustrated by work loads. People desire control, but their lives are often filled with so many things they “should,” “must,” or “want” to do that they feel trapped and unable to do anything. This book helps readers achieve inner peace through understanding core values and reflecting them in daily living. Time management is only part of the formula for feeling better about oneself and life. The author is a founder of the Franklin Quest Company, which produces the Franklin Planner and conducts seminars in time management for thousands of business, corporate, and educational organizations. This self-help book presents ten “natural laws” to enable people to take control of their lives. Though the author is Mormon, many of the “laws” of this book are based on scripturally valid moral truths.
Ten Natural Laws
The steps for control are organized as 10 “natural laws,” which the author defines as “fundamental patterns of nature and life that human experience and testing have shown to be valid. They describe things as they really are, as opposed to how we think they are or how we wish they were.” (p. 12) The first five laws address time management; laws six through ten concern life management.
- Law 1: You control your life by controlling your time.
- Law 2: Your governing values are the foundation of personal success and fulfillment.
- Law 3: When your daily activities reflect your governing values, you experience inner peace.
- Law 4: To reach any significant goal you must leave your comfort zone.
- Law 5: Consistent daily planning leverages time and increases focus.
- Law 6: Your behavior is a reflection of what you truly believe.
- Law 7: You satisfy needs when your beliefs are in line with reality.
- Law 8: Negative behaviors are overcome by changing incorrect beliefs.
- Law 9: Your self-esteem must ultimately come from within.
- Law 10: Give more and you’ll have more.
The time management section encourages individuals to determine and prioritize their values. Time management skills are employed to control the variables that rob one’s time, allowing one to achieve his or her most important priorities. This, in turn, leads to greater productivity and higher self-esteem. The “productivity pyramid” represents the model for personal fulfillment, in which governing values are the foundation on which long-range and intermediate goals are based. Daily tasks emerge from this base. Whenever the process between tying values to goals and daily activities erodes, a person begins to lose balance in his or her life; inner peace can only be realized when events are controlled to harmonize with values. Goal-setting and daily planning are explored in depth.
The Reality Model
The second section introduces the Reality Model-a behavior change tool that delineates the relationship between personal governing values and behavior. This book is by no means a scholarly work, and while it states that their (Franklin Quest) reality model was developed after much research, it does little to identify the originators of much of their material. The model begins with four basic human needs, as developed in the 1950s by Dr. Murray Banks (one of the few sources cited):
- The need to live.
- The need to love and be loved.
- The need to feel important.
- The need to experience variety.
The needs are depicted in a circular image of a wheel rolling down the road. When one of these basic needs demands attention, the wheel goes flat and the person channels all available energy into the need that is being deprived to get the wheel rolling again.
The second element of the model is the “Belief Window,” or what a person believes to be true about the world, themselves, and others. The belief window is based on experience and can contain hundreds of different beliefs. It may incorporate both personal beliefs and one or more collective beliefs from a cultural group. Stress may result from conflicting beliefs.
The third element to the model, “Rules,” includes all the rules-often subconscious-governing behaviors that are created as a result of beliefs. The fourth element, “Behavior,” occurs when something physically happens. The fifth element is titled, “Results and Feedback,” and makes this model useful by analyzing the behavior’s ability or inability to meet needs, thereby validating or invalidating a belief on the belief window. The model has three goals: to connect what a person really believes with the beliefs by which one actually lives, to show how changing circumstances can reveal incorrect beliefs, and to help change what is written on the belief window.
Chapter 8 reveals an exciting use of this model in helping teenagers recognize and start to change incorrect beliefs that lead to destructive behaviors like drug and alcohol abuse. Though based on only one special event, this electrifying account illustrates the power of the model to reach young people. The visual aspects of the model effectively show the relation of values to behavior. Other important themes of the book are “Self-Esteem” and “Servant Leadership.”
The author believes that inner peace is guaranteed when one uses all of these “natural laws” so that instead of subconsciously translating values and beliefs into rules and goals, a person can actively set goals in harmony with one’s values. This book is useful to the youth leader for organizing and managing his or her own time as well as providing a model for youth for use in their own lives.
The underlying theme of this entire book is gaining control of your life-not anyone else’s, yours. You are unique, and if you lose control of your life, you also lose your uniqueness, you become a dim reflection of someone else’s personality. True success in life can only come when you are true to the uniqueness in you. (p. 187)
If we will share what we have, many people’s lives can be blessed, and what we have left will grow at a geometric rate…Somehow, not only in this country but all over the world, we need to discover that when we develop more wealth than we need for our own comfort and security, we have an obligation to look at that difference as a stewardship, something to use to bless others. (p. 203)
Teaching has a second purpose: the changing of lives. New knowledge is of little value if it doesn’t change us, make us better individuals, and help us to be more productive, happy, and useful. (p. 203)
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
- How can a youth worker benefit from specific implementation of the laws on time management?
- Can this model be applied to a group, such as a youth group, to recognize generally accepted beliefs that subconsciously affect the behavior and growth of the whole group?
- Could this model be used as a point of contact with young people?
- Is there validity in using this model simply for understanding behavior and belief? Why or why not?
- Are teenagers as frustrated as adults by time demands and the push to produce and achieve more?
- This kind of model can help teenagers understand how faith is worked out on a daily basis.
- These “10 natural laws” are really teaching self-discipline, a hard concept for some people to understand, and difficult for most people to consistently apply in every aspect of their lives, regardless of their faith.
- Self-discipline is attained through these laws, and the special emphasis on servant leadership can mature one’s leadership.
- Many teenagers today, especially in suburban settings, feel numerous pressures to achieve and produce at a very high level. Basic time management skills will help them handle the demands of their life and control their time.
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