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Dr. Frank Buck: “Everything looks different after a good night’s sleep”

Mental illness encompasses a wide range of severity. My work speaks about stress reduction. It targets the seemingly unlimited demands on us as the culprit. I would love to see our schools do a better job of teaching young people organization and time management skills. These skills don’t fit neatly into the area of language, math, […]


Mental illness encompasses a wide range of severity. My work speaks about stress reduction. It targets the seemingly unlimited demands on us as the culprit.

I would love to see our schools do a better job of teaching young people organization and time management skills. These skills don’t fit neatly into the area of language, math, science, or social studies. Yet, they impact all those areas and every aspect of a student’s life.

Second, technology provides solutions that are literally in the palms of our hands. My wife will be the first to tell you I am “directionally challenged.” She can visualize a map of the entire metropolitan area in her head and see 15 different ways to get from “Point A” to “Point B.”

I need to be told what comes after “Turn left out of the parking lot.”

Yet, a simple navigation app on my phone makes this weakness irrelevant. That small voice coming out of the phone tells me what I need to know exactly when I need to know it. I can’t tell you how much calmer my time behind the wheel has become.

Those approaching the winters of their lives could benefit greatly from technology that is already available. What they need is someone to teach them.


As a part of my series about “Mental Health Champions” helping to normalize the focus on mental wellness, I had the pleasure to interview… Dr. Frank Buck. Frank is a public speaker, coach, and writer. He is the author of Get Organized!: Time Management for School Leaders. Dr. Buck helps busy professionals achieve their goals through organization and time management. He is a member of “Global Gurus Top 30” in the area of time management for 2017 and 2018.

His work includes dealing with the reduction of stress in the workplace and at home. According to Dr. Buck, “Life doesn’t have to be as hard as we sometimes make it.” You can learn more at FrankBuck.org.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?

The journey to this role started with my own experience as a student. It extended through my career as a teacher and school administrator.

I guess I was always one of those “naturally organized people.” What I didn’t realize was these principles are teachable. The first sign I needed to move my own practices to a larger audience came as I was working on my doctoral dissertation back in 1997. The work was a study of the time management practices of school principals in my state.

As I studied the literature on the topic of time management, I found something interesting. Much had been written on time management for those in the business world. But, little focused on the needs of the teacher or school administrator. As a result, I created a small workshop to help fill the void. It focused on helping educators. Over the years, that workshop has grown and changed with the times. The work presented there has been the theme of three books. Busy people, from all over the United States, Canada, and Australia, have learned an easier way to approach their time and tasks.

According to Mental Health America’s report, over 44 million Americans have a mental health condition. Yet there’s still a stigma about mental illness. Can you share a few reasons you think this is so?

First, people tend to shy away from that which they don’t understand. Since they don’t understand, they don’t know how to help. And when they don’t understand mental illness and don’t know their respective roles in helping, those who suffer from it become people to avoid.

Second, we tend to fear what we don’t understand. We hear “mental illness” and think “dangerous.” We must understand the umbrella of mental illness covers a broad spectrum of severity. It includes conditions that are temporary.

Third, we tend to distrust their decision-making skills. Thus, we exclude them from activities that would be meaningful and contribute to society.

Can you tell our readers about how you are helping to de-stigmatize the focus on mental wellness?

I want people to understand that we all feel anxious and overwhelmed at times. The right tools and techniques help us cope with the demands of the modern world. For some, those tools and techniques spell the difference between good productivity and excellence. For others, they mean the difference between being able to function independently and being lost in a sea of input.

Was there a story behind why you decided to launch this initiative?

Through the years, I’ve worked with students, teachers, principals, and professionals from many areas of the business world. Everyone craves the “nut-and-bolts” of organization and time management. People hear, “You’ve got to get organized. You’ve got to learn to manage your time.” The problem is that nobody tells them how. That’s what makes what I teach differently.

Seeing the difference with individual people has led me to take my work to a larger scale.

In your experience, what should a) individuals b) society, and c) the government do to better support people suffering from mental illness?

Mental illness encompasses a wide range of severity. My work speaks about stress reduction. It targets the seemingly unlimited demands on us as the culprit.

I would love to see our schools do a better job of teaching young people organization and time management skills. These skills don’t fit neatly into the area of language, math, science, or social studies. Yet, they impact all those areas and every aspect of a student’s life.

Second, technology provides solutions that are literally in the palms of our hands. My wife will be the first to tell you I am “directionally challenged.” She can visualize a map of the entire metropolitan area in her head and see 15 different ways to get from “Point A” to “Point B.”

I need to be told what comes after “Turn left out of the parking lot.”

Yet, a simple navigation app on my phone makes this weakness irrelevant. That small voice coming out of the phone tells me what I need to know exactly when I need to know it. I can’t tell you how much calmer my time behind the wheel has become.

Those approaching the winters of their lives could benefit greatly from technology that is already available. What they need is someone to teach them.

What are your 6 strategies you use to promote your own wellbeing and mental wellness? Can you please give a story or example for each?

1. Tomorrow starts today. I feel better when I spend a few minutes the evening before identifying the “Fab 5” They are the 5 items that I want to accomplish the next day. Sure, I’ll check off many more than 5, but that small set provides the compass for the day.

2. There’s seldom a new problem. Someone else has gone down this road before and left tracks. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. A good Google search saves time and frustration.

3. Everything looks different after a good night’s sleep. Tired people are irritable and overlook the obvious. Sleep gives us gifts of time, energy, and perspective. Also, the brain has a remarkable way of working on a problem while we sleep and delivering the solution the next morning.

4. I am the CEO of me. I’m an imperfect person placed in an imperfect world filled with others who have their own imperfections. I can’t fix it all. But I can fix myself. The funny thing is this: When I’m focused on “me,” I also tend to have the thoughts that will influence others.

5. Routine maintenance prevents problems. Preventive maintenance ignored becomes the breeding ground for frustration. How often are our days de-railed because something broke? How often does “broke” happen because we failed to clean, adjust, or replace those things that keep our lives humming?

6. How did you make today count? Every evening, I reflect on that question and log what was significant. Sometimes, it has to do with a goal I pushed forward. Sometimes, it deals with how I helped another person. Today came as a gift. How well I used it was up to me.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a mental health champion?

Two books come to mind. Both have been around for quite a while. The first is Time Power, by Dr. Charles R. Hobbs. The book sets the gold standard for helping people set goals as well as hammer out the daily details. It’s both “big picture” and “nuts-and-bolts.” While published in 1987 and using paper-based tools, the methodology is relevant to today’s digital world.

The second is Adventures in the Art of Living by Wilferd A. Peterson, copyright 1968. This thin work is a collection of short essays. It accomplishes exactly what the author set out to do. He wants to help the reader “hold an adventurous mental attitude.”

Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!

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