If you are like me, I have a to-do list constantly running in my head. It’s gotten so bad I have reminders to remind to check my reminders! I am so tired on my to-do list running my life; I have decided there’s got to be a better way to manage my time.
I have narrowed down my list by two questions – is it urgent or is it important? If the answer to either one of these questions is yes then it stay on the list, if the answer is no to either of the questions then its off the list. That simple, right?! Well not so much : ) The harder part of this task is defining what is truly urgent or important.
The way I see it, if you don’t take care of the urgent things, well, then you’ll have a catastrophe on your hands. For instance, if you don’t go to the gas station when your tank is on empty, you’ll run out of gas! Or, if you don’t pay you water bill on the due date, you water will be cut off. In general, there’s usually a specific and direct result if you don’t take care of the urgent tasks.
On the other hand, the important things are not so cut and dry. There are a little more subtle and sometimes can be easily over looked until they become urgent. For example, it is important to exercise and to eat well, but, if you choose not to spend thirty minutes on the treadmill today or have eat balanced meal, there is no immediate consequence. However, in the long run your health will be affected. It becomes urgent to exercise when you doctor tells you that you’re at risk for a stroke.
I remember attending a Covey Seminar on time management and it truly revolutionized the way I use and value my time. The Covey Time Matrix really forced me to analyze how I was using my time. I would challenge you to do the same. Look at the Time Matrix below and review what you’re doing with your time. Fill the quadrants for yourself to see current Time Matrix. Do you like what you see?
Your first challenge is to identify the time thieves in your life – the items in Q3 and Q4. This basically anything that you’re wasting time on and it could be anything from mindless gossip or unproductive habits. Once you have identified your time thieves, come with a 21 day plan to eliminate these time wasters from your life. This could mean cutting down on you channel surfing – watch TV only when you’re truly enjoying it or cutting down the time you spend with people who do not add value to your life.
Your second challenge is to create a Master Plan for your life. This will help to truly determine what should be in Q1 and Q2 . This is could include
- Your personal well being -mind, body and spirit
- Your relationships – spouse/significant other, child(ren), family and friends
- Your hobbies, volunteer activities, social activities
- Your employment – whatever your source of income is
So, what is important to you? And, most importantly how are you going to allocate time to take care of these things? At the end of the day, the items in Q1 and Q3 and their order can only be chosen by you. They have the power to determine the direction and the energy of your life. Successfully allocating time to these things impacts your happiness. Choose wisely!
Your final challenge is to stay on top of your priorities and to be aware that you need to revisit your Master Plan every so often. As anything in life, priorities change; what was important to you last year may not be so important this year. Be flexible! Continue to ask yourself…who am I? What is important to me and what am I doing about it? The answers may surprise you : )