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Effective Leadership By Mick Ukleja

Time Management? Don’t Miss The PointMick Ukleja

May 7th, 2013 - Time management can be a way of avoiding the obvious. No one can manage time. Time just is. It flows like a river. But unlike a river, you can’t stop it or store it up. There is no dam to stop or store time. We live in a time/space continuum. Which means that time = life. Time and your life are one in the same.

So the real question is not: How do you manage time? The real question is: How do you manage your life? Once that reality is understood and embraced, progress can be made.

Do you ever feel that you are going through your inbox and you will never get it on empty? It’s a common trap to focus on incremental things that never go away, and fail to focus on those important long-term goals. If we let it, the urgent things will always trump the important things. Since the urgent is a never-ending battle, it never ends! Most of the things pinging our brain for attention are merely urgent but often trivial.

You have a choice in life. You can either live on purpose, according to a plan you’ve set. Or you can live by accident, reacting to the demands of others. The first approach is proactive, the second reactive.

Sure, you can’t plan for everything. Things happen that you can’t anticipate. But it is a whole lot easier to accomplish what matters most when you are proactive and begin with the end in mind.

Following are a couple of tips:

•Make sure you are scheduling your values.
What’s really important to you? Make sure you put those on your schedule well in advance. If you don’t, other people will fill it up with things not nearly as important to you. Life is more than an artificially divided 40-hour workweek. You also have family, getaways and your need for time to reflect, and think, and plan.
If you don’t put these on your schedule first and well in advance, the day-to-day emergencies will fill your life-space. If you schedule your values first, then these emergencies will take their rightful place. Studies show that most people use their calendars to let other people set their agenda. Along with that you may fall into the trap of thinking that your job is to respond to emails. That might make you efficient, but it won’t make you effective. So don’t schedule appointments and tasks. Look at your calendar as a matter of scheduling your values. Drive your priorities into your calendar.

Make rules when decisions are hard.
In other words, pre-decide. When it comes to exercise, your health in general, a time for reflection or other important routines, just do it! These are the little rules you follow that pay big dividends. This is not a time to evaluate. It’s a time to follow your rules. So if you want to get up early for a time of quiet reflection to re-center yourself? Great. But if you wait until the alarm goes off on a cold morning when that bed is so warm and you are still sleepy, chances are you might not do it. That is not a time for evaluation. That is a time to follow your rule(s). If you struggle with this then get some help. We all need it. Receive the encouragement and accountability from the people you respect. Accountability energizes behavior and is a great assistance in helping you follow your rules.

Don’t second-guess yourself.
This is unproductive. You can spend an inordinate amount of time questioning your decisions. What is past is past. Let it go. Don’t get bogged down in “the paralysis of analysis.” Learn what you can and keeping moving. Like someone once observed, “It is easier to steer a car that is moving than one that is parked.”

Set a time limit.
Parkinson’s Law states: “work expands to the time allotted for it.” For example, I may go online right before lunch; say at 11 a.m. I then give myself 30 minutes to process the emails that have accumulated since I checked earlier that morning. On average, I can go through 70 emails in this amount of time. The deadline helps me be more productive. There are a lot of little tips for life/time management. They are great. But the umbrella truth of this management technique is to make sure your calendar reflects what is valuable to you and drives your priorities. Your plan for the day is the result of your best thinking as you consider your purpose and your goals. Emergencies do happen, but beware of the false emergencies. Most of the time sticking to your plan will result in the greatest effectiveness.

You can’t find or create more time. You can’t stop it or speed it up. And you can’t manage it. All you can do is manage yourself.

So what’s important to you? Schedule it

(Mick Ukleja is a consultant, author, coach, keynote speaker and president of LeadershipTraq, a leadership consulting firm. His clients have included Fortune 500 corporations and non-profit organizations. Check his weekly blog at www.leadershiptraq.com.)