I don’t have ducks. Or a row. I have squirrels. And they’re at a rave – unknown
I bet that blog title got your attention!
As we prepare for our ever-popular work-session and challenge, I was reminded of that funny quote I saw on Facebook a while back.
I literally laughed out loud and then shared the post, tagging my husband, and saying “Look! It’s me!” He laughed too. And then he agreed!
But today, as I’m busily preparing for our online productivity challenge next week – and having to make some last minute Covid-19 references – I was questioning why there is still such a high demand for this particular work-session, given that we’ve been helping people to develop their time management skills for years.
I mean, aren’t people getting it?
And then my colleague said, “I think people like the simplicity and practicality. In a world of complications and distractions, people long for simple and straightforward.”
It’s true. Even after all these years, our course is still based around a simple framework – Stephen R. Covey’s Time Matrix® – one that dates back to the 1980’s, and yet this timeless model keeps people signing up again and again.
There are many arguments around the question of what stops people from managing their time more effectively, and an equal number of time-management courses developed to address the underlying causes of the problem. We, however, take take a different approach and focus on solutions.
In today’s environment, the key to productivity is not to get more things done, but to get the right things done – the important things – with the highest quality you can achieve. – The 5Choices
So, back to those squirrels…
Do you ever find yourself in the midst of something only to slow down and realise that you’re not actually doing the thing you started?
I will start writing an email and decide to look for a business card, only to find myself cleaning the whiteboard, putting a file away, answering the phone, dusting the handset as I put the stationary box back in it’s place, pick up a client file from my PA’s desk, wander into the kitchen, put water in the coffee machine, go back into the office and resume my email…only to realise several hours later that I didn’t actually make my coffee.
Sound familiar? Well, there’s good reason.
When The 5 Choices: The Path to Extraordinary Productivity (also from the Covey library) was published, its’ authors presented a paradox, rather than a problem: that today, it is both easier and more difficult to achieve extraordinary productivity. Why? Because essentially we are faced with three issues: the nature of decisions we make, an attention deficit and our lack of energy.
So it’s actually more than just time management skills that we need to improve productivity, and perhaps the key to the longevity of our course lies in us enabling people to move away from what they have been doing, and towards what they should be doing.
Decision making: a 24/7 culture
We are being asked to do more in less time; the very nature of business has changed over the past decade and as a result we all face higher pressures in the workplace.
We’re always available and while we may not be in the office 24/7, we are tethered to our devices. I’m not saying that the days of 9-5 were better – in fact there’s a robust argument for working shorter, not longer hours – but this accessibility has created a mindset where working after hours – or at the weekend – is the new norm.
What we should be doing is leveraging time management skills to help overcome this, creating a healthier work/life balance and improving productivity as we go.
Attention deficit: digital distractions
There is no question that the technology that helps us, also hinders us in todays workplace.
Whether it’s the use of social media, the availability of every app known to man, text messaging or even email, technology causes distractions that we just didn’t have ten years ago.
But make no mistake, it’s not going to get better.
These distractions are here to stay and so what we should be doing is leveraging them and using technology to enable people to manage their timely finding a new way of living, thinking and working.
Energy crisis: stress and resilience
What if you were crystal clear on what the most important tasks were and when they needed to be done? It doesn’t take a genius to work out that there would be a positive impact on productivity, but more than that, reduced pressure and improved resilience.
But how can time management help? Simply by being behind with your workload, the increased pressure builds and builds until you end up exhausted or burned out, and adding a dose of stress for good measure
What we should be doing is tapping into the resources around us, learning to manage workloads more efficiently, keeping stress levels low and reducing the feeling of being overwhelmed.
If you don’t want to burn out, stop living like you’re on fire. – Unknown
There is no quick fix here – it’s a process. But I challenge anyone not to improve all three of these ‘problem areas’ by applying the Time Matrix framework when organizing your time, because at the end of the day, it isn’t actually about managing our time or improving our time management skills, rather it’s about being more productive.
And it’s not about getting it all done, it’s about getting the right things done – it’s the product of our decisions—where we focus our attention and our energy.
So how do you 'do' time-management better?
The irony is that it takes time to get a good ‘system’ working for you, and it takes practice. But the good news is that there are some simple things that you can do which will give you almost instant results.
What worked for me when I worked in a corporate setting is very different now I run my own business, but the principles I apply are the same. It’s not that my time-management challenges have radically changed, but what I do with my time has a different focus.
Your ducks may be much more in a row than my raving squirrels, but I think – particularly at the moment – we could all learn to slow down, be choosy about what we focus on and stop to make that coffee…you see, I did remember!
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