As soon as your alarm clock rings, you get up quickly, head to the bathroom to do your daily routine, dress up and get ready for work. You had to skip breakfast because you were anticipating traffic on your way to the office. Unfortunately, you get caught up with one, get stuck for about half an hour and ended up being late for your morning appointment. That was an important meeting. A potential client that you let slip away. Of course the person you were to meet was still there, accepted your apology for being late (after blaming traffic) and you both were able to run through the whole agenda but an impression was made. You have poor time management skills.
How many of us fall into the same situation over and over again? How many of us end up blaming traffic, train malfunctions, road constructions, the old lady who walks up the stairs too slow, the elevator that stops at every other floor (your office is at the 65th). Yeah, I’ve been there. And so are millions of people too.
Let’s go back to the first scenario: The alarm that rang… that was the 4th time it did! You kept on pressing the “snooze” button asking for 5 more minutes and ended up getting 20 more along the way. So you had to rush out of your house on an empty stomach. The problem is, traffic is already a given. There’s way too many cars and so much people all around that you really just have to allot time. When you reach your office late, you spend the whole day adjusting your activities and thus you end the day feeling that there’s just not so much time. But quite frankly, there’s a lot of time. You just failed to manage your day. In fact, you woke up late because you slept late. Because yesterday, you also failed to manage your time. Sometimes the small picture is just a day but in most cases these are reoccurrences of bad habits.
Time management is a skill. It’s not something you were born with, it’s something you learn on the fly. Each of us have 24 hours in a day. How we spend these hours depend on the choices we make, the activities we do. So the question is, how do we manage time?
Time Management Quadrant
In 1989, Stephen Covey wrote a best selling book,The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, where he shared his ideas about how to achieve success and satisfaction by creating a time “management matrix”. This allows you to schedule your week according to what’s most important to you and what will have the most meaningful results. Here’s an overview:
- Quadrant I – Important, urgent
- Quadrant II – Important, but not urgent
- Quadrant III – Urgent, but unimportant
- Quadrant IV – Unimportant and also not urgent
The above is simply an example of segmented activities or items that may take up your day. Let’s take a closer look.
Simply put, important and urgent (Quadrant 1) are activities or items that need to be dealt with immediately. Meanwhile, Quadrant 2 (Important, but not urgent) are activities that are important but do not require your immediate attention thus need to be planned for. And lastly, Quadrants 3 & 4 are activities that you either have to minimize or as much as possible eliminate.
Now, I’m not here to discuss the Quadrants in details, you can just buy the book if you want to. Trust me, it helps. What I am trying to tell you is this. Have you ever had a chance to asses what takes up most of your time? What makes you sleep late or lack one? What activities make you cram? Maybe the start of 2017 gives you the opportunity to step back and look into what you are doing wrong. It is also an ideal time to do big-picture thinking.
Goals & Priorities
In my last blog, I encouraged you to set your goals at the start of the year. So this is a good time to plot the things you have to do in order to achieve them. I’m sure you have more than one goal in mind. Some may be physical, others are career or business related and maybe financial and a few spiritual goals to complete your 2017. Which is the most important? Align your goals with your priorities. This year, you have 365 days to do so.
In order for you to improve your time management skills, you have to start practicing the basics. Do not under estimate the power of a “to-do-list”. This simple note that you look at clipped to your fridge is a good start. Some would even use post it notes just to remind them of tasks they have scheduled for the day. For the techies, they download apps and place reminders on their phones. Somehow, these simple actions keep you on track with your most important activities for the day. Maybe, start using a planner.
Overall, managing your time is a decision that only you will be able to make. Either choose to continue with a spontaneous life and live through it or plan ahead in time, adjust your schedules so that you allot more time and energy to the activities that will actually produce long-term results. Stick to your goals and priorities. We only have a limited time in this world. 😉
Time Management Grid
Want to practice with the fundamentals? Try using Steven Covey’s Time Management Grid.