Do you feel overwhelmed? Is there too much to do? Are you fed up with the interruptions that stop you moving forward? Does your phone never stop ringing? Is there another e-mail that has come in that you have got to look at? When are you going to be able to do that training? Are you too busy to do that planning? When are you going to find time to take your spouse out for a meal?
Living in today’s world is living under pressure, caused by instant communications, data overload, deadlines, twenty four hour news and all of the rest of demands on our time that are found in the modern world. So how can we manage our time in order that we may fit it all in? Well, unfortunately, we cannot manage time: time started about fourteen billion years ago with the singularity of the big bang and it has been marching onward ever since then. There is nothing that you can do to change that. There are twenty four hours in a day and everything has to be fitted into that time.
So, if you cannot manage time, I hear you say, what can I manage to keep me in control and stop me going under? Well in the words of Harold MacMillan, an ex British Prime Minister, it is “Events, dear boy, events” Now, you cannot stop events from occurring: the telephone will continue to ring whether you want it to or not. But, you can control how you deal with those events.
Dr. Stephen Covey, in his book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” attributed events or tasks with two characteristics: importance and urgency. All events could be plotted on a matrix, shown here, depending on their urgency and importance. Dr. Covey reasoned that by working on the things that are important and ignoring those that are not important, even if those that are not important are urgent, you will begin to take control and will achieve more. In particular, he argued that working on the things that are important but not urgent, those falling into quadrant II, will make a dramatic difference and will eventually reduce the urgent and important things to deal with, by reducing the crises element, and will eliminate the non important things.
So, are you going to take control and put first things first? It wouldn’t be a bad start to read Dr. Covey’s marvellous book.