What's really important in your life? Leading time management expert Chris Croft explains that the objective of time management is to maximise the time spent on the important things. How choosing short term enjoyment can lead to the price of regret in the long term. How to get the balance right between short enjoyment and long term achievement.
- Why bother to be good at managing your time? What's the point of being more efficient. Certainly we'd all like more time so that we could get more done. But given that time is finite, why organise it better? What extra things would you do if you had more time? Well I think the answer to this is that it's the important things that we'd like more time for. And therefore the objective of time management is to maximize the time spent on important things. So the one point of being efficient is to use up less time on the unimportant things so that we have more time for the important things.
So the game is to think about what's important and then find ways to spend more time on those important things. And that's what time management is about, fundamentally. Yes you need a job to do this in order to juggle all the small stuff without forgetting anything. And yes you need to juggle the urgent things and keep your boss happy. But really underneath it all, it's about deciding what you think is important and then making sure that at least a little bit of each day gets spent on that. By the way, I would hope that there is some correlation between what you think is important and what your boss or your company thinks is important.
If you disagree totally with them then you're probably in the wrong job, just a thought. And if saying that to you makes your suddenly realize, "oh my god he's right, what am I doing? "I hate this job". And decide to leave and do something else, have I done you a favor? Yes, I think I have. And have I done your company a favor too? Yes, I think so. Of course your job can't be 100% brilliant and fun all the time, but it ought to be mostly something that you agree with.
But importance is a subtle thing. If you don't spend time on the important things, you don't notice a problem immediately. You can neglect your health for a bit, ignore your self-development or training your staff for a bit. Ignore even your customers for a bit and get away with it. But of course if you do neglect things like this, they'll catch up with you later. You'll pay the price of regret later. Now, let's look at an example of what's important and what isn't and this idea of paying the price of regret if you get the mixture wrong.
The first band I played in was when I worked at Westland Helicopters. And the other guys in the band were classic musicians. They worked in the stores at Westlands but that was just a way to earn a bit of money to live off. All they wanted to do was play music and outside work they had a pretty crazy lifestyle. But what I found fascinating about them was that their time management was so bad. They were totally disorganized. They'd ring me up and they'd ask, "are we playing this weekend?" And I'd say, "yes of course we are "I gave you a list last week of all the dates".
(sighs) They drove me mad. And then one day we were setting up to play in a pub and I was installing the extension lead with safety circuit breaker and I saw that the others were all down the other end of the pub having a drink and a laugh and I suddenly thought, "hang on a minute, "maybe they've got life sussed and I haven't. "Maybe the objective is to have as much fun as possible "and they're doing it and I'm not. "Maybe I should be a bit more like them?" But they did pay a price for always choosing the most fun option.
They didn't achieve much, well anything really. And did this worry them? Actually, yes it did. They wanted to record a CD and get it played on the radio, maybe even to be on TV and none of that ever happened. And it did bug them. I think everyone has a built in need to achieve as well as to have fun. And I think they did one but not the other. They had fun but they didn't achieve anything and that was a problem to them. They didn't realize that achieving some success with the band was important to them.
So they failed to spend time on it and so they failed to achieve any success and this made them unhappy later. That's why your goals need to be things that you like doing but also things that you want to achieve. So to start with, I'd like you to make a list of the areas of your life and the areas of your work that feel important to you. What would you like to spend more time on? And what do you want to achieve? Start with this list and then we'll get more detail into it in the next section.
The first—saying no—is simple in theory, but hard in practice. Chris explains how to reclaim the power of "no" to make room for true priority items. The second step, negotiation, allows you to spend less time on unimportant tasks. The third way is to delegate sometimes, and the fourth is improving systems and processes so that repetitive tasks are quickly and easily managed. Last but not least, Chris explains how to overcome perfectionism and nitpicking. He explains how to apply the five methods to all time-stealers, including meetings, interruptions, and more.
In the initial chapters, he'll help you clarify your life and work goals, prioritize to-dos using Eisenhower's matrix of tasks, and answers questions like "Does working longer hours actually get more done?" The worksheets included with the exercise files will help you apply the lessons to your own work and life, and hone your time management skills—one step at a time.
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- Discover why you need to make the most of every day.
- Assess how to separate important from urgent items.
- Define Eisenhower's matrix of tasks.
- Determine how to find more time for important things.
- Discover how to say no.
- Prepare to negotiate tasks.
- Develop your delegation skills to save time.
- Improve your systems.