My wife often gives a knowing smile when I tell her I’m going off to facilitate a workshop on the subject of time management. We both know I have room for improvement in that area. I am, however, passionate about the topic, and consciously making an effort to grow in this area.
I’m fortunate to do, what I get to do, for a living. In some ways, facilitating workshops, and coaching others, is like my own personal continuous improvement program; regardless of the topic. I’m able to hold up a mirror, identify personal needs and then learn, relearn and apply important lessons. Over the past two weeks, I explored time management with over 90 participants in Idaho’s Certified Public Manager’s Program. Following is an overview of what we explored together.
First, a few of hard realities:
- There are no magic solutions, no silver bullets and no magic wands. Using our time more wisely takes hard work, dedication, commitment and tremendous amounts of self-discipline.
- You have all the time there is! We all get 168 hours of time every week. No more, no less.
- Time cannot be managed or saved. We talk about managing and saving time as if we’re able to put it in a bottle and use it at some point in the future. Regardless of what we do, time marches on. Time cannot be saved for later use. Minute by minute, we’re spending our lives. Once it is gone, it is gone forever!
- Time management is about self-management. While we cannot manage time, we can choose how we spend or invest our time. Like much of life, it is about choices we make all day long, every day. Making better choices about how we spend our time is the key to a more rewarding life. As Michael Altshuler says in his quote, you are the pilot! Our lives are often shaped by the countless decisions we make concerning how we spend the seconds, minutes and hours of our days.
Following are five ideas for your consideration today:
- Know your priorities. One of my mentors once taught me that if everything is urgent, then nothing is urgent. Before we can know where, and how, to utilize our time, we must know our priorities, both personal and professional. Being clear about our priorities makes it possible to decide how best to allocate our most precious resource: our time!
Click here to read – Time Management is not the Problem; August 26, 2018
- Differentiate between important and urgent. Successful people, and successful organizations, spend a much greater percentage of time working on important activities (as opposed to urgent activities) than the rest of us. Think about fire prevention vs firefighting as a metaphor for a few seconds. When we don’t spend time on fire prevention, the result is more fires. This then becomes an escalating spiral; the more fires we face, the more time we spend fighting fires and the less time we spend on prevention; which results in even more fires. If we’re caught in this spiral, we must break the cycle. Remember “urgent work” is often cleverly disguised as “important” but rarely is; learn to differentiate the two. Always focus on important work first!
- Good is the enemy of great. Most of us know what a poor use of time is and most of us are pretty good at avoiding needless time wasters. That is not the biggest time challenge most of us face. Rather it is the “good things” we spend our time doing which are preventing us from doing “great things” with our time. Asking ourselves “What is the best use of my time right now?” might yield more powerful results.
- Time can either be spent or invested, never saved. We can spend our time wastefully, watching mindless television as an example, or we can invest our time reading a book, nurturing our relationships, learning a new skill or a myriad of value-added options. One of my CPM participants shared that he frequently played video games until the early hours of the morning almost every night. He later decided to invest that same time into creating a new business with a partner. He is now a business owner with a second income stream. Please always remember, when you choose to spend your time one way, you are also deciding not to invest that time in other more profitable options. Economists call this an “opportunity cost”.
Click here to read – What Habits are Shaping Your Life; April 28, 2019
- Choose results, not busyness. Many of us are addicted to “busyness”. Look around and you will see busy people everywhere. Being busy is not the same as being productive. People can sit in front of their computer screens processing emails for hours while yielding very little productive value. Being busy can be terribly seductive; it often feels good and looks good on the surface, but in reality, being busy has just become a more acceptable waste of time and precious life. Focus not on being busy, but on adding value, achieving meaningful results and making a positive difference.
“You get to decide where your time goes. You can either spend it moving forward, or you can spend it putting out fires. You decide. And if you don’t decide, others will decide for you.” – Tony Morgan
“Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.” — Stephen R. Covey
“Until you value yourself, you will not value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.” – Dr. M. Scott Peck
In what ways will you better invest your 168 hours this week? How can you help others better spend their time this week? How will you add more value to those around you this week? And, as always, how will you lead differently, or better, this coming week?
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Have a great week!
“Expanding Your Capacity for Success”