Time management and Task-switching by Dr. Richard Bandler

In this extract from a recent Masterclass, Richard Bandler was asked how to manage time and changing between different tasks effectively. The answer is a brilliant example of the way he works hypnotically with his students while explaining what they need to do.

Questioner: I used to go into periods of just painting for example and just forget about everything else. The more I did it, the more I was over motivated to do it to the point where I would sleep four hours a day and just neglect everything else. Then I would go, after a couple of months, "Why am I doing this? I should have done the thing I did before!" Then I would go back to that other thing. How do I combine these different activities, say, in one day?

Richard's answer was brilliant:

Richard: Well you know what the best thing is on every machine by the way? The on/off button. For example, when I want to relax, I turn my phone off. Most people don't. But I love the on/off buttons on things. It used to be when you had a telephone in your house it had no on/off button and so you had to take the receiver off and it would make a noise, which drove me nuts. Then they came along and they made it so our phones plugged into the wall so suddenly I could just unplug the phone.

Then I had a client came that owned a big telecommunications company and I literally, there were still the old big phones with the rubbery dials and I said, "I wish my phone had an on/off button," and he said, "I can do better than that, I can give you an on/off switch or you can make it just so a light flickers and it doesn't make noise. I can even make it so your telephone has a way of recording messages,"
I went, "What?"

He said, "Yes, I put a little tape recorder in there and people can leave you a message and you can listen to them all at once."
It became a very popular device, suddenly they were everywhere.

But do you know what, I found that annoying. You had one that had your answering message and one that had the other message. So I took a tape out of mine, and my message said, "I don't have the other tape in so don't bother leaving a message. I'm going to answer phone calls on Tuesday," and I made everybody call on Tuesday.

I would call them back on Friday because Sprint, who came into business at that time, offered me a deal. They said,
"We're going to let you have totally free calls on Friday to anywhere in the world," and of course people are calling me from all over the fucking planet, so I called everybody back on Friday, it was cheaper.

That wouldn't work if I couldn't turn off and on my ability to write books, my ability to stop and see a client and turn around and start painting again. Your great state of creativity that you paint in doesn't have an on/off switch. The trouble with it is, you have to set the on/off switch so that it has a way of knowing when to go off and on. You have to budget your time like everything else. You have to sit down and go, "Okay, I've got three hours to do this," and nothing will interfere with that for three hours. You set a clock in your head, or on the outside, you enjoy it and when you stop, you have to go, "The minute I look at this I'm going to be right back in this state."

So even if you answer the phone or you do something else, when you turn around you're right there. I have a room for each thing, I'm lucky I can afford to do that, not everyone can. There was a time I couldn't and I had to do it by parts of the table but now I have a place where I paint and I never move anything and I don't let the maid in because she's crazy. She cleans everything! Well she's a little OCD actually but I took advantage of that.

I went, "Oh, you're OCD? I have a job for you."
She goes through and looks at all the expiration dates in my pantry and lines them up in order. It's better than how you spend your time. Don't laugh at her, at least she accomplished something. This is the kind of thing you're going to do.

When she lines them all up, she looks at them, she feels great and that way I'm not using something recent and ending up having to throw something away later on. But if you don't organise your time that way, you don't realise how important your state of consciousness is. You need to go into these deep states to paint the best you can. You have this belief, which is, by the way, simply not true, that you have to devote your entire energy to getting there.

Once you're in that state, you need to know how to go right back to it and that's basically just a post-hypnotic suggestion, when you feel it in your body, you go, "As soon as I look at this from this point of view, I will be right back here." You turn away and you talk to somebody for five minutes and you turn back and make sure you can do it. You're as capable of doing that as you have been anything else. You play guitar, at one time playing a certain cord was incredibly hard. I remember most guitar players when they learned, they let me play and they go, "Oh, bar cords, those are really hard," and I go, "No, that's what makes it easy." But when you're learning it, it's hard. When you have to do all those raised sevens and lowered fives and combinations and leading tones and stuff, it's difficult at first, but then it makes it easier for you in the long run.

This is just another skill, switching from the best musical state to the best artistic state is conservation of the energy... Do you see my point?

Questioner: I do.

Richard: Next question...

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