Originally Published on August 27, 2018 (I’ve had numerous requests for articles on time management.)
“If only I had enough time to… (fill in your own blank)”. How many times have you heard someone say those words in the last week? How many times have you thought those words in the last two days?
I’m not sure I have ever met anyone who has enough time to do all of the things they should do, let alone the things they would like to do. Nor have I ever met anyone who claimed to have too much time. And the reality is, each of us has all the time there is… exactly 168 hours a week. Nobody gets a bonus hour or two, nobody gets cheated. Life is equal that way… we all get exactly 24 hours per day, no more, no less!
So then, why is it some people find a way to get so much more done than others in the same amount of time? Or why is it some people are so terribly busy, they’re running here, and running there, but rarely get anything of significance accomplished?
I have a theory and would love to share it with you. I have come to the conclusion, that for most of us, time management is not the problem. There is little doubt each of us couldn’t get better in some aspect of time management. I’ve taught time management classes for more than 20 years. And while far from perfect, time management is not my biggest challenge either.
So what is the biggest challenge to getting more done and creating more value where it matters most? The answer is a lack of well thought out and clearly defined “strategic targets” which will have a significant impact on your future. By not defining what is profoundly important in our lives, careers, relationships, projects, we make everything important. And, when everything is important, nothing is important. If everything is urgent, than nothing becomes urgent.
Let me explain. A “strategic target” represents an innovative, strategic idea, or initiative you want to pursue. It describes where you want to be, or what you want to accomplish, at some point in the future. These targets could be personal or professional; they could be linked to your family life or relationships, your career, or some aspect of your current job. A target could be as simple as “What are the expected outcomes of a meeting you’re facilitating this afternoon?”, or as complex as “What will the organization look like after the merger?”
Without specific targets or goals to focus our limited time and energy, we spend a lot of time spinning our wheels on things of little strategic value. We’re very busy, being busy… trying to do everything for everyone, and in the process, getting very little done that really matters, or adds value, to our lives or the lives of others.
It is ironic that very few of us would get in our cars and drive frantically in circles without a clear destination in mind. And yet, most of us tend to go through our projects, jobs, careers, and lives in just such a fashion… no clear destination or target in mind.
No wonder we find ourselves so tired and stressed out and yet no farther down our desired path. Time management is not the problem… a lack of strategic targets is. What targets, if obtained, would make a difference in your life?
When teaching time management workshops, I often use a line that always gets more laughter, and nervous giggles, than anything else I say. Here it is “If you keep going in the direction you are going, you are likely to end up… where you are headed.” The question becomes “Will you be happy if you end up where you are headed?
Where are you going today? Do you know? What are your priorities?
How will you lead differently, or better, this week?
Have a great week!!
“Expanding Your Capacity for Success”
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- “It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?” – Henry David Thoreau
- “The key is in not spending time, but in investing it.” – Stephen R. Covey
- “Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.” – Jim Rohn
- “Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of. One man gets only a week’s value out of a year while another man gets a full year’s value out of a week.” — Charles Richards
- “One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.” – Tony Robbins
- “Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent, and not enough time on what is important.” – Stephen Covey