Close the Gate on Time Thieves!


Everyone has 24 hours in a day, the difference for successful people is how they use those 24 hours.  They have routine which allows time for themselves as much as time to accomplish things.  They are focussed and dedicated; and passionate.

Here are 10 simple things to include in your planning to stop those Time Thieves from preventing your success.

1. Is It Your Monkey?

Based on a Harvard Business Review article ( in 1974 this question is one that we should ask ourselves before taking on a task.  As a quick summary…..

We all have metaphorical monkeys which we need to feed, i.e. tasks, outcomes etc.  In business our requirements within our role are all these monkeys as well as any challenges that arise.  Some people are “rescuers” and help by taking your monkeys from you and offering to feed them.  This might be the boss or the colleague that will say “OK leave it with me”, rather than “what do you think the solution is?”  The former sentence takes ownership of the problem, of the monkey, while the second leaves the problem/monkey with the current carrier.

Then there are those who are very good at getting people to take their monkeys, even if the person doesn’t want to.  They may use excuses why they can’t tend to the problem right now, or they may be able to slip in a sentence “Can you look into it for me?” or “can you use your influence with this one” or even the “I won’t possibly have time to do this as well” and there you go, the monkey often seamlessly slips off one person’s shoulders to another.

So, are your perceived priorities yours to own, or should you gift the monkey back to its owner?

Learn to say “NO” and be discerning on what you take on.

2. Plan and Prioritise

Knowing your outcomes and planning the incremental steps are important in achieving outcomes.  Sometimes our dreams and desires can be overwhelming.  Sometimes procrastination can overtake action.  By

  • knowing what it is you want, the more detail the better yet remember to be flexible
  • setting a date to work toward and
  • breaking the tasks down into incremental steps

we create movement.  Movement gives us opportunity for feedback and adjustment on the task.  It gives us something to calibrate against.  Doing nothing gives none of this!

3. Get It Out of Your Head and on to Paper

Following on from the prior point, literally get what you want out of your head.  If you are planning something try putting your thoughts and ideas on Post It notes and place on a board.  This way you can move them around and order them from an external perspective.  The order becomes visible and naturally, can be moved, added or subtracted as the goal evolves.

The clearer the vision the easier it can be achieved.

4. Make “Ta Dah” Lists instead of “To Do” Lists

Lists are another great way to capture and organise thoughts.  It is very simple though to create an extensive list for the day and then feel at the end of the day that very little was achieved.  Be practical and realistic – prioritise what needs doing today (and is it your monkey to do) and put the other activities at another point.  Those tasks that are important go to the top of this list.  If you keep shifting some consider, how important are they?

A “To Do” list is a list of all the things you must do.  A “Tah Dah” list is a list of things you must do that is achievable in the time frame.  This way you can celebrate and say “Tah Dah” when it is completed.

5. Stop Wasting Time

mBit creator and visionary Grant Soosalu used to wake up every day and think “how can I be the highest intention of myself today?”

Are you valuing your time?  That series on Netflilx or game on your phone can wait.  It is just a distraction.  Are you utilising your time to be your highest intention or is what you are doing a distraction?  Is the task worthy of your time?  What can you ask others to do, (that’s right – shed a few monkeys of your own!!!) that means you can continue with more meaningful things?

6. Know Your “Why”

Simon Synek says the most successful businesses don’t only know their “What” and “How”, they know their “Why” too.  When we understand what drives us, we find motivation.  Successful people know what they want, and they understand the “why”.  This aligns the goal with their values and values are the greatest drivers.

7. What Is Your Level of Perfectionism?

Sometimes our level of perfectionism can get in the way.  Commit to your same high standard as what we do reflects us and our business.  Consider though, if you have a high level of perfectionism will it ever be good enough?  The Middle Eastern religion believes only Allah is perfect, so their beautiful beaded dance costumes always have one bead out of place or a different colour because “only Allah is perfect.”

Is your commitment to “getting it right” at the right level or a bit too high?

8. Dress for the Task

By dressing according to the task, we can change our state and intention.  If you are self-employed business person do you turn up to the home office still in your lawn mowing gear or do you turn up reflecting your business persona?  Would you wear your business clothes to mow the lawn or go to the gym? You probably have other clothes for that.

Create “uniforms” and dress in the right uniform for the task.

9. Setting Time Frames Is Useful

Being an old-fashioned gal at heart I do like my hard copy diary.  I like it because it is a reference if I need to look back on dates and being visual, it shows what I have on.  Another member of my family utilizes their phone calendar.  However you make sense of your time, set appointments to achieve tasks in your ‘diary’.  Block out time as if it were for an important appointment and only for important things change it.  Treat that appointment as you would a doctor, dental or hospital appointment and aim to keep it.

Do you know the 500-mile rule of meetings?  It is simple, if the phone rings during a meeting ask yourself “would I walk 500 miles to answer this call?”  If the answer is yes then take the call, if not, trust they will either leave a message or call back.  In modern day we are giving too much weight to being instantly contactable.  Apply the 500-mile rule to your own personal time frames.

10. Do Something for Yourself

It is a personal belief that every day should also reflect me and what I want for myself.  Whether it is an hour’s exercise (which keeps me sane and centred) or just 20 minutes to have a sit in the sunshine it is important that we do something for ourselves as well.  NZ Employment Law requires all employees to have a lunch break.  Be sure to utilize yours no matter how you are employed in a day.

I often ask my clients “how do you eat an elephant”.

I am sure you know the answer…

Christine Walter is passionate about coaching! She is a Master NLP Practitioner and NLP Trainer, Hypnotherapist, Life Coach, Master mBit Coach and mBit Coach Trainer. As well as personal coaching she offers one on one coaching as well as training courses via her own business Lodestone, and other agencies.Christine Walter is a Hypnotherapist, Life Coach, mBit Master Coach and NLP Master Practitioner and a trainer of these modalities.  She has her own practise moving between Auckland and Waihi area.  She is a founding director of ANZCAL, NZ’s coaching accreditation organisation. You can learn more about Christine by going to her website Or phone 021 0709 138.



This disclaimer informs readers that the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, organization, committee or other group or individual.

Buddha and the Bandit

Buddha was once threatened by the bandit Angulimal, who said he was going to kill Buddha.

“Then be good enough to grant me one last wish” requested Buddha. “Cut off the branch of that tree!”

One slash of the sharp sword and it was done, the branch was shed from the tree. ‘What now!” demanded Angulimal.

“Put it back again,” said Buddha.

The bandit Angulimal laughed.  “You must be crazy to think that anyone can do that!”

“On the contrary” Buddha replied calmly.  “It is you who is crazy to think you are mighty because you can wound and destroy.  That is the tasks of children.  The true mighty know how to create and to heal.”

Coaching Utilising Values

Where were his values?! I don’t think it was that the person intended to be rude, or annoying, or disruptive.  It was just that that was what was occurring.  When they were being themselves, they were pleasant and then there were those instances when, without seemingly a filter to be found, they would just blurt something ridiculously offensive and we were back at square one. This just couldn’t go on.

Utilising the NLP presupposition “people are not their behaviour” I resolved to find a win/win outcome to what was occurring, and I started with values.  What did I know about the person that I could search for key values and what were my key values?  There was a negotiation point somewhere.

Values are aspects of life that we hold dearly to us, we fight for our highest values.  They are key drivers that activate motivation and action.  They are intangible and yet integral to who we are.  When coaching I am constantly listening for values and exploring to find the highest values possible.  Examples of values are respect, love, communication, justice, self-esteem, safety and sense of belonging.  In coaching, search for the higher values.

Safety is a key value for everyone.  It is important that we feel safe, after all, keeping ourselves alive is the prime directive of our unconscious mind.  When we feel threatened we will take some sort of action to enhance safety.  It is important to me that people feel safe in my sessions, even when I am challenging them.

Businesses also have values.  Some declare their values; others can imply them within their vision and mission statements.  Values can become negotiation points in disagreements and in points of union.  They will make someone stay in a job even though the person is not fully happy, or they can make a person leave despite seemingly holding the perfect job.

So, I went on a values hunt.  I could have just been the dictator and laid down the law (this was an option I was holding in reserve), the more powerful way was to find what was driving the person and appeal to that.

1. As the Coach start from a place where anything is possible. Your energy is important, and you need to set the scene.  I hold two presuppositions to create a convivial attitude toward the other person and a safe space.  They are

  • People are not their behaviour and yet the most important information I have is their behaviour so I calibrate from this.
  • All behavior is context driven.

I want respect from people and therefore it was important that I respected the person in front of me.  I was therefore respectful throughout the conversation.

2. What do you know about the person that can steer you toward talking about their values? Remember people like to talk about themselves.  In my case I knew this person had done some volunteer work, I started there.

3. Find high level values. I always start searching for a values hierarchy by asking “What’s important to you about ….” When that gets answered I ask a question to find a higher one such as “and when that is achieved what is important about that?”  High level values are those that are the main drivers.  For example, someone may want confidence and when we find the higher values, we find the drivers could be a sense of belonging or being able to do something that gives their life a sense of purpose.  These are higher level values.

4. Find values that connect with the ones you are holding. To work with the person being disruptive I found that our need for people to be safe and to be respected was a common value.  Once I found that, we had a point of negotiation.  Using influential language patterns, I was able to point out that the inappropriate interjections were not displaying respect and I pointed out how that was in conflict to the person’s own values.  I also subtly discussed an example or two where the target had displayed their annoyance and, had they watched the impact, in those moments their emotional safety could have been threatened.

5. Negotiate alternative actions/responses for a win/win.  Agree on what is affable to all parties that promotes a change of action and the desired outcome for everyone. If required, stipulate any consequences of a relapse. 

6. Conclude positively.  In the negotiation I had I assured the person that they were important to the group and had a lot to offer.  I also appealed to some of the unresourceful beliefs that they held about themselves and made comments as to why they were not true, providing the evidence that I had noticed.  Throughout the session I found points to reiterate the value of the person and ensure they were integrated into the group.

These are six simple steps I use with clients and with groups. They are also the basis of negotiations I have done in the past with employees in my team.  Change remains the person’s choice and is in their control. Values provide the fuel for our motivational coaching hat and quickly identify for us the drivers of the client.

Everyone has values.  Learn to identify them quickly and easily and utilize them in your coaching sessions.  Be sure to let the client know too that these are their drivers.

This disclaimer informs readers that the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, organization, committee or other group or individual.

Christine Walter is a Master NLP Practitioner and NLP Trainer, Hypnotherapist, Life Coach and mBit Coach.  She offers training courses via the NZ School of Life Coaching and through her own business Lodestone. She is also a Director of Australia and New Zealand Coaching Alliance.