Time management is our ability to use our time productively and efficiently. Time is precious in that it is non-refundable, and so if we intend to live courageously, we will also want to make the best use of our time.
So how do we manage our time courageously? We explored a number of strategies last night in Bravery School, and the starting point for all of these strategies is getting clear on what is really important to us.
Then, we need to be courageous enough to stand up for ourselves and our priorities.
We do this by standing firm and sticking to our plans, what works best for us and our preferred lifestyle. We need to fill our cup first, before we can help others. If we don’t take care of our own needs, priorities, and deadlines, we won’t be of any use or even be able to help others.
This might mean conveying decisions we have made to others who might be impacted, and it might mean saying no to requests for our time. It also means being protective over how we spend our time – we should be the one choosing where our focus goes, not our phone alerts, incoming email or other people. And this takes courage.
Work out your High Impact Priorities
Steven Covey has a grid that helps us to identify our priorities, where we look at two factors: Urgent vs not urgent, and Important vs not important. With this in mind we want to focus on our To Do items that fall into the important and not-urgent category, as well as attending to only the important urgent things. The rest of the things should be delegated or dropped. This is the strategy of effective people.
Once we have identified our top important items, we can prioritise them to the most impactful ones that if we got them done, would make a big impact on our work and life. Tim Ferris has 2 questions to ask to help identify your high impact items on your to do list. They are:
- If this were the only thing I accomplished today, would I be satisfied with my day?
- Will moving this forward make all the other to-do’s unimportant or easier to knock off later?
Be Courageous with your time
Once you have our highest most impactful priority, then our courage can kick in so that we give ourself permission to put ourself first, and focus on these priorities. We can also say no to what drains our energy or distracts us from our choice of important tasks.
And it’s useful too to remember that when we need to focus on doing the actual work on that priority, to turn off notifications on our phones, or put them on silent. Another useful strategy is to close our emails when working, and only check them at schedule timeboxes during the day (the productivity experts say the best time is NOT first thing in the morning, and only twice a day, working on the emails in batches.)
Courageous time management involves the process of planning and organizing how we divide our time between activities, and then courageously implementing those plans, being brave about saying no to what we need to say no to, and yes to the decisions that will help us get the most out of our time. We need to muster our inner “Bruce Lee” and courageously avoid the unessential.