LIKE BEN FRANKLIN ONCE SAID, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
Making the most of your time ranks up there as one of the best skills you can master. How you manage your time affects everything you do. It determines if you are running late, bogged down at work, or steadily humming along.
To be a successful time manager, set aside regular planning time in your calendar. If you’re like most busy professionals, chances are if it’s not in your calendar, it’s not happening.
Another thing to consider is taking MRA’s Time Management class, where you will evaluate your current habits and identify the behaviors, time wasters, and interrupters preventing you from using your time to its full potential. You’ll be armed with a variety of tools, which when implemented, will help you be more effective in scheduling your priorities.
In this class, we use Stephen Covey’s Four Quadrants to Be Productive, where you can schedule your week according to what’s most important to you and what will have the most meaningful results. Check out this quick overview:
I: Urgent and important. The title says it all. These are the tasks that need your immediate attention. Think deadlines, crises, and persistent problems. But be aware, too much time here leads to constantly putting out fires, stress, and burnout.
II: Important and not urgent. Tasks that are not urgent but important look like strategic planning, relationship building, preparation, education—personal development activities. Things we know we need to do but seldom get around to doing, because they don’t feel urgent. Yet these are the activities that will set you apart as a leader.
III: Urgent and not important. How many interruptions, phone calls, texts, and meetings do you experience in a day? There are a lot, and many are urgent but not important (like the email that needs your timely reply for next week’s potluck lunch). People can get in trouble in this space—it feels efficient spending time here, but ultimately, it’s not effective if it takes time away from more important priorities.
IV: Not urgent and not important.This could be called unintentionally irresponsible. Getting lost on the internet, checking out social media posts, procrastination, perfectionism—all time-wasting activities that offer little or no work value. These are the behaviors you need to delete.
Figuring out what quadrants you tend to work in is a lightbulb moment. Priorities are analyzed, and you actually see where you are spending your time. It’s similar to tracking your food habits—the first task is to write down everything you eat. Time journals can be as shocking as food journals, and are a great place to start your journey from awareness to effectiveness.
Everyone is given the same amount of time, a precious, nonrenewable resource. It’s important to be intentional and purposeful in what you do with it. Spend more time above the line, investing in what’s important.
MRA - The Management Association
Director, Learning & Development, Instructors
For more information on Time Management class schedules, visit the MRA website. This class can be offered onsite for your group and virtually for your convenience.
Source: Kathy Price, MRA Edge, © 2020 MRA – The Management Association. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.
For more information, visit www.mranet.org.