If I only had 3 more hours in my day …
But a 27 hour day doesn’t help much if time isn’t utilized effectively.
One of the best lectures that I’ve heard on Time Management was given by Carnegie Mellon Professor Randy Pausch at the University of Virginia in November 2007. [Just click on the “Time Management” link included above and you can see the lecture yourself — the lecture is a little over an hour in length but worth the “investment”.]
Among other topics, Professor Pausch stresses work/task prioritization. Task prioritization is not a new concept, but it’s one that we all seem to have problems with.
Most of you have seen a chart like this one for prioritizing work, one of the foundations to “making time”. It’s often referred to as the Covey Quadrant … that would be the Steven Covey Quadrant (of Franklin Planner & The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People fame).
What makes this chart so significant is its simplicity. Dr. Covey uses the two terms: Important and Urgent. Both are direct and clear. All of your tasks should fall into one of the four categories … nice system but what’s so special about it? The key is how it’s applied.
Most people will rightly focus on the Important/Urgent tasks. (That’s were Put-out-House-Fire or Save-Drowning-Person tasks would fall.) After that, we often get lost, attacking a pile of Not Important/Urgent tasks (most phone calls, most meetings and other interruptions). While completing these tasks are may look like significant accomplishments, they don’t Make Time. Rarely do “Not Important” tasks become “Important”, but “Not Urgent” tasks will often become “Urgent” if not addressed.
Focusing next on the “Important” but “Not Urgent” will not only relieve stress in your life, but allows you to plan and more efficiently use your time. You’ll also find that many of the “Not Important” but “Urgent” tasks really shouldn’t be on your task list in the first place. (Note: Dropping “Not Important” but “Urgent” tasks off your To Do list is a first step to Making Time.)
The another easy way to Make Time is to eliminate tasks from your “Not Important” / “Not Urgent” category. That’s where “Wheel of Fortune” falls. Yes, I am suggesting that you Turn—Off—the—TV! Back away slowly and put down the remote control… It will be OK.
In 2007, according to A.J. Nielsen Company the average American watches more than 4 hours of TV each day. By the end of 2011, TV watching time increased to more than 5 hours per day, without including any computer or smartphone time. (and those readers in the over 50 age categories shouldn’t be so smug … most of those TV-watching-hours come from our age groups).
Still wondering where that additional 3 hours a day can come from? TV. Turn it off and remove the batteries from the remote. If the quiet bothers you, put on some music. Tired? Put your feet up and relax. Take a nap. You’ll be surprised at how much more you’ll accomplish.
Time management does not mean filling every minute of your day with work. It means using your time efficiently and effectively.
So prioritize your work (and turn your TV off) and you, too, will have those extra hours that you’ve been looking for.