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Time Management – Don’t be a Victim

time-is-moneyTime management is a universal problem in our fast paced, technologically advanced, super-connected world.   At some point, nearly everyone feels stressed-out and overwhelmed.   Sooner or later, our attempts to control time by multi-tasking and making detailed schedules exhausts us.  How can I better manage time is inevitably a question that comes up in coaching conversations.   At some point, all professionals realize that personal effectiveness is key to advancement.

A starting point to this conversation is to pause, back up and think about your commitments.   What are you committed to?  Reflect on your well-being, your family, your relationships, and your career.   Spend some time here.   What is important to you in each area of your life?   Then think about how you want to balance these commitments.  Are they equally important or is there a hierarchy of commitments?

This is a necessary first step because in order to be effective with time, you will have to change your relationship to time.  Stop being a victim – stop reacting to requests, demands, inquiries, e-mails, text messages, meetings and events – and start to be responsible for how you spend your day.   After all, the amount of time available in a day, a week, a month is finite.  It never changes.  On the other hand the potential demands on that time are infinite.   Being selective with those demands requires focus, energy and practice.

In his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey’s lists as his 3rd Habit:  Put First Things First.   The essence of this is captured in the phrase “Organize and execute around priorities” (1).   This is seemingly sound and simple advice.   But the key is not to just prioritize what is on the calendar.  Rather, the key lies in determining first what goes on the calendar.   Understanding your commitments will facilitate choosing what goes on the calendar.

Once you understand and prioritize your commitments, there are many tools available to assist in managing your calendar to produce results.  To get started, here are some things that you might consider:

  • Is it a Want or a Need?  Is it (event, meeting, phone call, etc.) something that I need to do to generate results or is it just something that is appealing without generating results?
  • What am I spending time on that does not support my commitments?
  • What can I take off my calendar before putting something new on it?
  • What do I do regularly that I can stop doing altogether or delegate?
  • When people drop in on me, do I tell them how much time I have to speak with them and then stick to it?
  • Am I reacting to urgent requests by others that do not support my commitments?
  • Am I not generating the results I want because my time is being consumed by reacting rather than being proactive?

A coach will help you gain clarity around your commitments, to prioritize and organize your calendar, and to assist in strengthening the responsibility muscle.   That is, to say “no” to activities that do not support your commitments.

To get started today, call me for a free consultation.  Take the first step toward relieving the stress in your life.

(1) Covey, Stephen R. (2003) The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. N.Y, N.Y. Free Press.

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