The real crux though is planning, if we manage time and time doesn’t manage us there’s less chance of either feeling overwhelmed or that there’s not enough time. And by planning how we plan and having that as one of the tenets of the business we are more than half way there.
Steven Covey’s four quadrants of managing time effectively is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to think about how we plan but we have to be honest about the amount of time that we spend in the four quadrants. What we can do to manage time to allow us to be in the optimum quadrant of ‘important not urgent’ i.e. the quadrant of quality and personal leadership?
- One thing to be aware of is how often we’re distracted by bright new shiny things and so not finishing what we’ve started. Why, well it means we’re in danger of moving into the ‘important and urgent’ because we’ve allowed our attention to shift away from something that’s progressing well and suddenly the deadline is here but we ‘re not ready.
- But It’s also important to remember we’re humans and not robots and so we will wander off from time to time. The key here is to notice we’re doing it and give ourselves a time limit before we get back to what we were doing. And that’s a sensible time limit not a ‘just in time’ limit.
- At the same time its important not to trivialise or denigrate being distracted by bright shiny things because sometimes, just sometimes, we stumble across something that’s actually going to be the ‘next best thing’. Plus in that down time we’re still, on some level, processing the thing that we’ve just stepped away from. It’s about being self aware.
- So perhaps we should just plan in a few hours a week to spend time on the ‘important and not urgent’ and give ourselves a bit of a break?
- Planning for interruptions and issues means we’re less likely to spend time on the ‘not important but urgent things’. In part by mitigating against them and in part by having planning in a time buffer allowing us to act on things a client needs – important and urgent to them but usually because they haven’t planned to plan and not important to you in that moment.