Time management / Self management

I must govern the clock, not be governed by it – Golda Meir

I’m not sure what your experience is, but for me time seems to be rushing by at the speed of knots.  We seem to be doing more in our lives than ever before and the Tyranny of Busyness seems almost a badge of honour for some people.  Denis Waitly says that “Time is gone forever and is the ultimate equal opportunity employer”.  How we use our time then is the key to self management.

I am often hearing people saying things like:

  • “I need more time”
  • “I haven’t got time for (fill in the blank)”
  • “I run around like a headless chook…”
  • “I’m too busy to…”
  • “I feel torn between x and y (both of which are important)”
  • “There just isn’t enough of me to go around”.

There seems to be so many people who struggle with managing time.  There is also the dreaded procrastination where people find it difficult to get things done because of lack of motivation or overwhelm.  Both groups tend to end up feeling frustrated, guilty and stressed.

Stephen Covey talks about putting first things first and poses two important questions:

Q1  “If you were to think seriously about the three or four things in your life that matter most, what would they be?”

Q2  “Are these things receiving the care, attention, emphasis and time you really want to give them?


Covey says that traditional time management techniques, which increase our efficiency so that eventually we gain control over our life to feel a greater sense of peace and fulfillment, just don’t work.  What he advocates is a principle-centred approach to life which is based on our vision, mission, values and goals.  Once we plan and organise our life from this perspective we can increase our focus and productivity in the areas of our lives that make the greatest meaning and impact.

I know for myself that organising my life around my vision, mission, values and goals gives my life a whole new dimension of meaning and joy.  There are two practices that I use and recommend to increase your management of yourself and your time.  These are a) Big Rocks, and b) Time Stealers.

Big Rocks is a great weekly practice that I continue to do and encourage my clients to do.  The way it works is to think about the roles you play and the goals you want to achieve.  Some of my roles are spouse, parent, friend, business owner, teacher, writer etc.  I then take each of these roles and write down at least one thing that I can do each week that if I did would provide the greatest positive influence in my life.  The process always begins  with looking after our self first (sharpening the saw!), and then moves on to the other major roles we play.  The idea being that we need to look after ourself first so that we can be robust to take on our other roles.

So for example, in my life some of my big rocks for a particular week might look like this.

My Weekly Compass – My Big Rocks
What is the most important thing I can do in this role this week?
Role – Sharpen the Saw
Physical Yoga x 2 weekSki x weekendBike ride x 1
Social/emotional Catch up with Kevin and Colleen to skiTime with HelmutSpeak with JB
Mental / cognitive Read U TheoryUpdate Clare Graves Values module
Spiritual Meditate daily and read inspiring works each night
Role – Wife
Big Rocks Dinner with Helmut – Be present
Role – Mother and daughter
Big Rocks Sunday night dinner with kids- Be presentVisit Mum and Dad
Role – Teacher
Big Rocks Update Clare Graves values moduleAdvertise Exec Intelligence program

Time Stealers is another is useful tool to evaluate is how we spend our time and how decisive and organised we are.  Some people (me included!) waste a lot of time that could be better utilised with some tweaking of their systems and habits.

Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least – Goethe

The following Time Stealers table provides a useful ready reckoner to evaluate some of your daily behaviours and develop improved ways of addressing these issues by identifying possible solutions.  These solutions can then be added to your big rocks for that particular week.

Time Stealer Causes Possible Solutions
Too much paperwork No system
Poor communication
Poor administrative routines
Poor organisation
Inability to say no Wish to help others
Need to feel wanted and involved
Fear of causing offence
Don’t know how to say “no”
Want to be busy
Other people expect me to say “yes”
Too involved Unclear priorities
Need to feel wanted and involved
Unrealistic time frames
Overwhelming pressure and workload
Crisis management Lack of priorities
Trying to do too much at the same time
Lack of foresight
Overreacting – treating everything as a crisis
Overlooking possible negative consequences of decisions
Lack of Priorities No system
Lack of planning time
Lack of self discipline
Would rather be doing than thinking
No clear job description
Put things off
Personal Disorganisation Lack of system
Giving impression of being busy, important or indispensable
Fear of forgetting things
Lack of delegation

These are just a couple of really useful techniques that I use to keep me focused and on track.  I would be delighted if you would share with me your thoughts and techniques you use to keep yourself on track.  Please email me at c.egle@ilad.com.au

Anything less than a conscious commitment to the important

Is an unconscious commitment to the unimportant – Covey

Posted in On Self Organisation