Time-Management is not only something for managers and leaders. It is a topic that everyone can benefit from, especially if we want to get ahead and make a difference in our lives: "Where should I spend my time on? What is important?"
Everyone also has questions such as, "How can I spend my time in the best way possible? How can I get the most out of it?"
It is the the art of focus and decision-making combined with effective productivity.
Overall, it boils down to the the art of focus and decision-making combined with effective productivity.
I had a bad habit of wanting to please everyone and having a hard time saying "No". So what happens is that the last person to hand you a “priority” gets bumped to the top of your to do list. However I have found that if you don’t set your own priorities, you will be tossed like a bottle on the sea.
Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and First Things First popularized the concept of a Time Management Matrix. This book has been one of the cornerstones in personal development and success strategies.
The Matrix helps me focus on the most important tasks by letting me classify them as important vs. unimportant and urgent vs. non-urgent.
What is urgent? Urgent are all tasks determined by external pressures and requirements that need your immediate attention. But are they important or not important?
What is important? Important are the tasks that are in harmony with our goals and our life-balance. In essence, what is important are tasks that contribute the very most to your long term future.
In the process of managing your time, separate and list the urgent from the important.
You will have a lot that fall in the category of urgent but not important, and these type of activities take place during the work day and are easily confused with "real work" because no matter how many urgent but unimportant tasks you engage in, you contribute nothing to your work or your company.
Other activities such as reading the newspaper at work or taking a long lunch are neither urgent nor important. Be aware that spending too much time on these activities can be harmful to your career because they consume your valuable time which could otherwise be invested towards getting results for which you are paid and upon which your future depends!
For those who are not familiar with it, here’s a picture and a brief overview.
- Important & Urgent - Do them now the best you can
- Important & Not Urgent - Set focus here, whenever you can
- Not Important & Urgent - Learn to say "No" or delegate tasks in order to maintain focus on the important; not urgent
- Not Important & Not Urgent -Avoid these for sure