Achieving personal victory: How to manage your time pt. 2
Can you relate to this? As I walked along the beaches of Exuma on a recent business trip trying to decide whether I should succumb to my pressing, never-ending to-do list, and the insistent call to “relax, have fun and enjoy the beauty of the island”, this thought came strongly to mind and lingered, “life is a test on priorities”.
It brought back insights from a time management course I taught recently called “Personal Victory” based on the popular book the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey. As our lives evolve and new responsibilities arise, we could all use a reminder to make the best choices with our time.
Quadrant 2 as described in the book, is the not urgent but important things in our life. These are the priorities that matter in the long-term and have to do with results – they contribute to our mission, our values, and our high- priority goals. They are things we know we need to get to but probably will put off – over and over again. It’s having a lunch with an important contact, relationship-building, prevention, recognizing new opportunities, planning a life etc.
Peter Drucker expressed that “time management is something of a misnomer: We have a constant amount of time, no matter what we do; the challenge we face is to manage ourselves. To be an effective manager of yourself, you must organize and execute around priorities. We don’t manage time. We can only manage ourselves.”
Even the “time masters”, whose lives are managed enough to accomplish success in their endeavors all face the same dilemma – being caught between the urgent and the important.
Quadrant 2 falls into the category of “private victory” – where we go from dependence to independence by taking responsibility for our own lives.
He encourages us to: Put First Things First – this involves self-leadership and self-management by identifying our most valuable priorities and planning our lives around these priorities.
Quadrants 1, 3 and 4 are Urgent – Important, Urgent – Not Important, and Not Urgent – Not Important respectively. These fall between the most pressings of tasks requires immediate attention (crisis, fire-fighting, deadline-driven projects) to completing tasks that clog up our time each day such as some phone calls and poorly thought-out meetings, to full-blown time wasters like checking and rechecking Facebook and Twitter during the day, because we think we might miss something. There are other activities which we tell ourselves at the moment that we must do but — if we stopped ourselves to really think about — we’d realize they aren’t that important. They get our attention, but when we look back at these things at the end of the week, they may not have any bearing on our long-term goals.
People get “harried” away from their real goals and values by subordinating the important to the urgent; some are beaten up by problems (in quadrants 1 and 3) all day, every day. Their only relief is in escaping once in a while to the calm waters of quadrant 4.
With the time-management quadrants in mind, consider these questions: What quadrant does your life predominately fit in? What items on your Q2 list don’t currently get the time they deserve? What work-related items in Q3 could be removed or delegated, in order to free up time for Q2?
Decide to live in the second quadrant as much and as best you can. To say “yes” to important things requires you to learn to say no to other activities – some of them urgent. To achieve personal victory, follow this simple process. 1. Identify your key roles: business, family, church – whatever comes to mind as important. 2. Identify those you will act in for the coming week. 3. Think of two or three important results you feel should be accomplished in each role during the next seven days (at least some of these goals should be quadrant two activities). 4. Look at the week ahead with your goals in mind and block out the time each day to achieve them. Once your key goals are in place, look how much time you have left for everything else. How well you succeed in your endeavors depend on how resilient and determined you are at defending your most important priorities.
At least 10 percent of your day should be devoted to these important but not urgent activities (Q2).
At the start of every week, write a two-by-two matrix on a blank sheet of paper where one side of the matrix says “urgent” and “not urgent” and the other side of the matrix says “important” and “not important.” Then, write all the things you want to do that week. Focus on the important.
Life is a test on priorities. At the end of the day, when it really matters, be sure you’ve passed the test.
Keshelle Davis is an authority in the areas of corporate, business and personal success training in the Bahamas. She is also an internationally recognized speaker and author. Her roles include Executive Director of the Chamber Institute, the education arm the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce, President of Creative Wealth Bahamas and Founder of The Training Authority. Keshelle was listed as the Nassau Guardian’s Top 40 under 40 for the 40th anniversary celebrations of The Bahamas. To comment on the article or join her list for free monthly training tips, email [email protected].