It’s a shame because I really want to hear that speaker, but I just can’t find the time to go
I don’t have time to meet 1-2-1 with my team members, they understand how busy I am
I will go to that networking event next month, they are always hosting them
I don’t have time to go to the gym today, but I will try make it up next week
I can’t make the children’s play as work is too busy
Sorry I can’t make the college reunion, work is relentless. I will catch up next time
Not enough time
Do any of these statements sound familiar to you? They are all examples of what we tell ourselves for not doing important things because we don’t have the time. I was told by a prospective client of mine recently that “I really want to start my coaching with you, but it needs to be next quarter now as I am swamped with work.” Fortunately, I am experienced and self-confident enough to know that I am not unique in hearing reasons like this for why it takes a long time to get a new coaching engagement started. I also have the experience to know that once the coaching starts, coachees will often beat themselves up for not having started their journeys earlier! As a popular Chinese proverb says:
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.”
It is never too late to get started on something important like your leadership development journey. Whether it is putting off starting something new, or perhaps a physical work-out in the gym or to get home in time to watch a child’s school play these are likely signs that your most important resource, your time, is being controlled by others. This is nothing new or remarkable as it is common for driven business people to not raise their heads up from their work and pause, think and reflect.
In this day and age when we are rightly being reminded about the impact that today’s society is having on the natural environment and the consumption of earth’s resources, we also need to be more aware of our personal number one non-renewable resource… TIME. We can’t buy more time, it’s like a single-use water bottle or coffee cup that once used gets discarded but cannot be recycled.
Time is our personal non-renewable resource
Time is a scarce and precious resource and as such we should not allow others to control how we spend it. If you are not convinced, here is another way to think about it.
Life expectancy is broadly speaking on average 80 years. Convert that into 4,160 weeks (create a quick Excel sheet with 80 rows representing years and 52 columns for the weeks), and now subtract the weeks you have already lived, for me that means I only have 1,800 more weeks! So what? Well, that means I want to make the most of each and every week remaining to me. Tim Urban (www.waitbutwhy.com ) says “Sometimes life seems really short, and other times it seems impossibly long. But this chart helps to emphasize that it’s most certainly finite. Those are your weeks and they’re all you’ve got.”
Don’t worry, there are solutions and many tools to help you get the most from each week. My favourite is the Urgent/Important matrix often called the Eisenhower Matrix after former U.S. president Dwight D Eisenhower.
Urgent and Important
In 1954 the former U.S. President, said: "I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent." This "Eisenhower Principle" is said to be how he organized his workload and priorities. He recognized that great time management means being effective as well as efficient. In other words, we must spend our time on things that are important and not just the ones that are urgent.
Important activities have an outcome that leads to us achieving our goals, whether these are professional or personal.
Urgent activities demand immediate attention and are usually associated with achieving someone else's goals. They are often the ones we concentrate on and they demand attention because the consequences of not dealing with them are immediate.
The sins of omission, whether professional or personal, will more than likely be classified as not urgent but important and so it is essential to find and make time to do them. This can be achieved through clearing tasks in the not important/urgent (delegate) and not important/not urgent (stop doing) quadrants. Review your calendar and to-do lists and complete the exercise, do it with your teams to help them remove low-value interruptions and unimportant work that will have built up over time.