The ONLY time management method you'll ever need
Updated: Jan 29, 2019
In my last blog I talked a little about how to develop a really clear picture of the things that matter most in your life, in order that you can develop an effective system of prioritisation. Unless we get clear on the things that REALLY matter- people, values, beliefs, goals, dreams and ambitions, there is a very real danger that we go through our days in a kind of fog- blinded by the minutiae of things that don’t really matter or other people’s priorities. Putting the things that come first FOR YOU at the top of any 'to do' list is so important because none of us know how long we have left on this earth. Maybe it’s a day, a decade, or longer, but if today was your last day on earth, how would you spend it? What would you do? What would you let go? Who would you speak to and what would you say? If you don't make a conscious effort to live every day of your life according to the things that really matter to you, then you empower other people and circumstances to shape you and your life by default.
Putting first things first
Steven Covey author of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, calls this putting 'first things first'. Putting first things first is essentially a meaningful time management system, whereby you aim to spend most time on the things that contribute to your ‘mission’ in life (your goals, talents, values, priorities, dreams and ambitions). It’s about prioritisation of the relative worth of activities in relation to your values.
Understanding where we spend our time
We spend our time in one of four ways. These are defined by two values- importance and urgency. Important things are those that matter and contribute to your mission. Urgent things are pressing matters that demand immediate attention, however, not everything that is urgent is important! Things that are ‘pressing’ (such as a ringing phone or an email marked urgent) often represent things which are important to other people. They may or may not be important to you, so it is important not to get derailed by other people’s priorities. The quadrant model of time management was developed by Eisenhower, and is a short explanation of the four quadrants is set out below:
Q1: important, urgent items – tasks that need to be dealt with immediately. Often these are crisis situations or tasks that should have been planned in and dealt with earlier (when they were quadrant 2).
Q2: important, but not urgent items – tasks that are important but do not require your immediate attention, and need to be planned for. This is where we should plan to spend most of our time.
Q3: urgent, but unimportant items – things which should be minimized or eliminated. These are the ‘poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part’ variety of tasks. They are not really important, but someone wants it now.
Q4: unimportant and not urgent items – items that don’t have to be done anytime soon and perhaps add little to our lives. We can often waste a lot of time in this quadrant without realising it.
Maybe you could take 10 minutes before bed tonight to analyse how you’ve spent your time today. If you haven’t spend a good chunk of time in quadrant 2, tomorrow is a new day and a new opportunity to be more deliberate and conscious with how you spend your precious time. Remember, in the words of Leo Babauta ‘The life you have left is a gift. Cherish it. Enjoy it now, to the fullest. Do what matters, now.’
If you have time (you do have the time!) this 13 minute video here is so worth watching. Three centenarians were asked what their most valuable life lessons were, and also their regrets. The conversations are truly heart-warming. They talk about the importance of family, people, relationships and love. Enjoy!
And finally, I’d love to hear from you, so do please post your thoughts below and let's get the conversation going between like-minded, heart centred people! Sharing our stories can be so healthy and healing, and often super helpful to other people. Remember, the more you give in life, the more you get! And on that note, I’d LOVE it if you’d share this blog on social media so that bit by bit, we can help those we love to move from surviving to thriving! Small positive actions repeated over time have the power to change the world!