This month we will focus on the important topic of time management. As we discuss in today’s edition, effective use of time management is usually a result of identifying your priorities and values and then working from those priorities. We would also add that identifying the need to establish these priorities is often borne out of necessity—whether it is being a single mom or dad; having to overcome a major challenge or setback; or wanting to create as rich and full life as possible through relationships, health, philanthropy, etc.
To overcome certain obstacles or accomplish ambitious goals, the effective use of time management is a necessity. Look around for examples of people who have the successes you desire; they seem to have relationships you would like to have, the health you desire, the business success you want. Decide which skills you need to attain and the disciplines you need to engage in to reach that same level of success. Then, budget those into the new possibilities of time you will begin to “create” as you follow through this month on what N.J.W has for you.
I’m excited about our topic of Time Management. You’ve heard me say it before, but the management of time is the best-kept secret of the rich. So here is what we will cover this month:
1. Developing a Philosophy of Time Management—Establishing your priorities and values. As important as how to manage our time is first and foremost the why, since the why is the force that pulls us toward our dreams and determines the how. First we’ll look at the philosophy of time management and then determine our priorities based on the values we believe in and hold in the highest. We will discuss these things more in depth later on in this edition.
2. Creating a Proactive Schedule—Allocating time based on your unique priorities and values. Once you know why you are managing your time and the priorities and values you strive for, then it is important to understand where you currently spend your time and how to strategically budget for maximum performance. You see, something will always master and something will always serve. Either you run the day or it runs you. Next week we will look deeper into this aspect of time management.
3. Breaking Through Barriers—Eliminating time wasters and overcoming procrastination. Many folks know what to do, but it is often the things we shouldn’t spend our time on that get us off track. It’s important that we not mistake movement for achievement. It’s easy to get tricked by being busy, but the key question is: Busy doing what? In two weeks, we will look at how to overcome procrastination and eliminate time wasters.
4. How to Gain More Time—We’ll talk about time-management pointers and how to reclaim one to two hours a day through delegating, skill improvement, multitasking and improved focus. These are things anyone can do to gain more time in their day. Yes, there are only 24 hours in each day, but we can maximize those hours by working “smarter” rather than longer, and employing other skills along with our time management. We will look at these ideas in three weeks.
This month is going to be an exciting one because time management is such a powerful issue. When a person masters time management, look out because they will have transformed their daily life into a powerful force for achievement.
When a person learns why they should manage their time and finds those compelling reasons that drive them forward, it is only a matter of time until they achieve everything they set their mind to. When they live out their priorities and values; when they know where their time has been going and where they want it to go; when they eliminate things that hold them back, wow, they are on the road to massive accomplishment.
So let’s look at some of the whys of time management. We all know the value of doing the important things first and leaving the unimportant things for some other time, and essentially we know how to do it, but we often lack—or at least are unaware of them—compelling reasons as to why we should manage our time. Let me give you an example. Imagine you are a smoker. You already know what it takes to quit, but you don’t have enough of a reason to quit. But then you find out you’re going to have your first child, and now, all of a sudden, you have a reason (or maybe even two). You want to live as long as you can to see your baby grow up, and you also want to make sure your secondhand smoke doesn’t affect the health of your new child. So you quit because you finally have a strong enough reason.
Now, what about time management? Why take control of our lives and manage our time? Below are a few of the main compelling whys of time management.
The first is a deep appreciation for the idea of stewardship. Ultimately, our lives are not our own; we owe them to someone else. Think about our lives like a banker. The banker is a steward of someone else’s money. The money in the bank is not his. In fact, money is entrusted to him to invest. I view time management in much the same way. I am given my life and entrusted to manage it wisely with all of the skill, discipline and responsibility that I can. I believe time is our most valuable asset, and yet, so often, we tend to waste it, kill it and spend it rather than invest it. But when my life is over, I will hand back whatever I have made of it because, ultimately, I am a steward of the life given to me. This philosophy drives me to invest my life wisely and to manage my time.
Managing my time allows me to spend more time with those people important to me, and I love having that option. Managing my time well and taking care of my work while I am at work gives me the freedom to spend time with those I want. Too many times, people get “stuck” at work because they simply haven’t managed their time well and end up paying the price by having to sacrifice time with their family.
So often I hear people complain about their lack of time and what they have not been able to accomplish; they are living lives of frustration. That isn’t very enjoyable, is it? What compels me to be disciplined in my time management is understanding that if I manage my time according to my priorities, then my result will not be frustration, but fulfillment, and ultimately that is exactly what we all want to experience, isn’t it? Now, let me give you a key phrase: Recognize that managing time will bring personal fulfillment and allow you to accomplish what you desire. But a word of warning here as well: Days are expensive. When you spend a day, you have one less day to spend, so make sure you spend each one wisely.
Stewardship, people and fulfillment are three very powerful reasons to manage your time. Give some thought to these this week.
Now, let’s talk a little about priorities and values.
What are priorities? The dictionary defines a priority as precedence, especially established by order of importance or urgency. Priorities are the things or activities you give the utmost importance, things done because of their inherent value. If you think about it, the root of the word is prior. Priorities are those things that come prior to or before, or, better put, first. Time management then is basically priority management. It is the act of determining what is important, and then living out your life or work in a manner that will help you fulfill your priorities.
What are your values? Simply put, they are those things you value or have value for you; they are the important things. It is wise to decide what is major and what is minor on your importance scale and then learn how to separate the majors from the minors. You’ve heard me say it in my seminars, but a lot of people don’t do well simply because they major in minor things. Don’t allow yourself to fall into this trap and waste time on things that are not of value to you. Instead, invest in things that will bring you pleasure, joy and fulfillment.
So how do we make sure we live out our priorities? Here is a very simple, yet powerful, way to get started and to move forward with your priorities.
First, you must know what your priorities are. If you haven’t already, stop and take a few minutes to list them in the workbook. This list should include your priorities in all areas of your life.
Second, group them into areas. For example, work, family, hobbies, health, etc.
Third, under each category, put them into order of importance, from most important to least important.
Fourth, stay tuned next week, when we’ll specifically talk about how to look at the time you currently spend and how to take these priorities and put them into a fully functional schedule that will empower you to live them out. (Here’s a preview: Begin to spend the majority of your time on those things that are at the top of each of your priority lists. Do them first and leave things that are less important for later. Focus your time on those priorities you have established.)
Basically, this is the idea of a simple priority task list. Figure out what is important, put them in order, start with the most important, and move down the list—simple but powerfully profound.
Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!