Prioritizing Your Time:
Time management is about more than just managing our time; it is about managing ourselves, in relation to time. It is about setting priorities and taking charge. It means changing habits or activities that cause us to waste time. It means being willing to experiment with different methods and ideas to enable you to find the best way to make maximum use of time.
The 80/20 rule, also known as Pareto’s Principle, states that 80% of your results come from only 20% of your actions. Across the board, you will find that the 80/20 principle is pretty much right on with most things in your life. For most people, it really comes down to analyzing what you are spending your time on. Are you focusing in on the 20% of activities that produce 80% of the results in your life?
The Urgent/Important Matrix:
Great time management means being effective as well as efficient. Managing time effectively, and achieving the things that
you want to achieve, means spending your time on things that are important and not just urgent. To do this, you need to
distinguish clearly between what is urgent and what is important:
• IMPORTANT: These are activities that lead to the achieving your goals and have the greatest impact on your life.
• URGENT: These activities demand immediate attention, but are often associated with someone else’s goals rather than our own.
This concept, coined the Eisenhower Principle, is said to be how former US President Dwight Eisenhower organized his tasks. It was rediscovered and brought into the mainstream as the Urgent/Important Matrix by Stephen Covey in his 1994 business classic, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. The Urgent/Important Matrix is a powerful way of organizing tasks based on priorities. Using it helps you overcome the natural tendency to focus on urgent activities, so that you can have time to focus on what's truly important.
At times, requests from others may be important and need immediate attention. Often, however, these requests conflict
with our values and take time away from working toward your goals. Even if it is something we would like to do but
simply don’t have the time for, it can be very difficult to say no. One approach in dealing with these types of
interruptions is to use a Positive No, which comes in several forms.
• Say no, followed by an honest explanation, such as, “I am uncomfortable doing that because…” • Say no and then briefly clarify your reasoning without making excuses. This helps the listener to better understand your position. Example: “I can’t right now because I have another project that is due by 5 pm today.” • Say no, and then give an alternative. Example: “I don’t have time today, but I could schedule it in for tomorrow morning.” • Empathetically repeat the request in your own words, and then say no. Example: “I understand that you need to have this paperwork filed immediately, but I will not be able to file it for you.” • Say yes, give your reasoning for not doing it, and provide an alternative solution. Example: “Yes, I would love to help you by filing this paperwork, but I do not have time until tomorrow morning.” • Provide an assertive refusal and repeat it no matter what the person says. This approach may be most appropriate with aggressive or manipulative people and can be an effective strategy to control your emotions. Example: “I understand how you feel, but I will not [or cannot]…” Remember to stay focused and not become sidetracked into responding to other issues.
• Creating an Action Plan: Now that you understand the various concepts, it’s time to plan how to put them into action by incorporating them into your life.
• Set Leadership Goals: In leadership, as in life, you will never come to the end of your learning, but you want to rank in priority order those qualities you want to develop.
• Address the Goals: Determine how you will accomplish your goals. Do you feel you need to learn more about teamwork so you can better lead a team? Join a team sport. Do you want to communicate better? Take a creative writing class or join Toastmasters and get some public speaking experience. Toastmasters are also great if you are shy and want to feel more comfortable in social situations.
• Seek Inspiration: Learn about a variety of leaders, including their styles with dealing with challenges. Read books and conduct research on the internet or at libraries.
• Choose a Role Model: Based on your research, choose a role model that fits your personality. You might choose a dynamic leader like Teddy Roosevelt, or an intellectual leader like Albert Schweitzer or Albert Einstein. Read several biographies and find videos on his or her life.
• Seek Experience: Take a leadership role on a social group or club. Gain experience working with people on many levels.
• Create a Personal Mission Statement: Imagine your legacy. How do you want to be remembered? What do you want people to think of you? What type of leader you determined to be? Write a statement that defines who you will become.