We were recently at a meeting where the presenter asked these questions:
Who in the room has read an article on time management?
Everyone raised their hand.
Who has taken a class or webinar on getting more things done?
Almost everyone raised their hand.
Who feels great about their ability to prioritize their key imperatives and get them done in an efficient and timely manner?
Only about 11 people raised their hands.
Despite all of the reading and classes, it’s tough for most of us to get real traction on our core commitments and goals.
To support your efforts, we have put together a 3-step process that can help you become more effective and efficient as you make your way through the demands and opportunities you face day-to-day.
Many of you have heard us talk about The Fundamental Pause© which is one of the most important business “fundamentals” from our perspectives. The Pause, as we call it, is an active process of interrupting your typical reaction to life and asking, “Is what I am about to do or say in alignment with my goals?” Our goal is to help our clients shift from being reactive to being responsive to their worlds in ways that move them forward toward success.
When thinking about increasing your ability to get the things done that are most important to you, it is critical to pause at specified times throughout the day to ensure you are not just reacting but rather you are responding from a position of leadership to create the outcomes you most want to create. So here are the steps:
- In the morning, before you start your day, pause and ask yourself: “What do I need to do today to end the day feeling a great sense of accomplishment about the things that are most important to me and to our business?”
- Write them down and if you can, put them on your calendar at a specific time and note the specific place where you will do them. There is considerable research that shows that identifying when you will do something and where you will do it significantly increases your chance of actually doing it.
- Set a timer on your phone or your watch or even your kitchen stove to go off every one or two hours throughout the day. When the timer goes off, pause again and ask yourself if you are doing what you need to do to feel a sense of great accomplishment at the end of the day.
- This may be a time to get back to the list you made at the beginning of the day or for you to choose other things that are more critical to your sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. The goal is to decrease reactivity—“It’s in front of me so I do it”—and increase your ability to respond—“I pause and consciously choose how to spend my time.”
- Spend a few minutes at the end of your day—either before you leave your office or during a quiet moment in the evening (which for some of you may be the moment you climb in bed)—to reflect on whether you were able to decrease your reactivity and become more responsive in taking action on your own behalf and on behalf of your family, community, or organization.
This isn’t a “one and done” activity. It takes practice to slow down and be deliberate about your choices because it’s human nature to react to what’s coming at us. In fact, you may find that however much you like this approach you still get pulled away from it. Don’t give up—just keep coming back to this 3-step process. Refine it so it supports you: pick a place and ritual for the morning—over coffee at your kitchen table, at your desk first thing, on the bus, and then assess if you need your alarm to go off more or less often, and finally consider how to measure your success so that you can see that you are making headway. These three steps are guidelines that can support you in making good decisions about your time so that you can create the success that matters to you.