Time Mastery – How To Get The Best of You

 In Career Tips, Leadership

Angry young businesswoman pointing on a wall clockTime Mastery is one of the most difficult and most critical challenges facing business owners today – how to efficiently utilize your most valuable resource – your TIME! The things that you choose to spend your time on in your business will have a significant influence on how successful you are as a business owner.

Stephen Covey in his “7 Habits” and “First Things First” books describes a simple matrix of Importance vs. Urgency to easily categorize how you allocate your time investment to have the most positive impact on achieving your goals.  These four areas can also be called Waste, Deception, Necessity and lastly Quality & Leadership or Strategic.
Time Matrix Covey

You’ll find things like e-mail and surfing the web are most often Not Urgent and Not Important – or Waste. It is critical to avoid spending much time on these activities during the day. Many phone calls and walk in requests fall into the category of Urgent and Not Important. They come to you because someone else did not do what they were supposed to or because there is no process in place to handle the situation. Many customer calls or production issues are Urgent and Important. You handle them to satisfy a customer or keep the operation moving, but they suck time from you largely because there was no system in place to handle the issue properly in the first place. Does any of this sound familiar to you?

It might surprise you to know that the quadrant where you want to spend the most time is the Important and Not Urgent corner. This is where you find focus, and work on things like strategy, planning, goal setting and relationship building. The biggest challenge for you as business owner is to spend as much time as possible in this corner. These are the Strategic decisions that will determine where you take your business and if you accomplish your goals. Because the projects in this corner are not Urgent, they often times get pushed back in the priority stack – and then just get forgotten or just never done. As the business owner, it is your job to invest your TIME on these areas of your business. If you do not, who will?

So you ask, how do I make time to focus on the Not Urgent but Important? One practical idea is to bake it into your schedule. I call it using a Default Calendar. That is blocking the time on your calendar for those critical tasks you must do even though there is not an emergency driving them. When you put the BIG, CRITICAL items into your calendar first, you will always find time to fit in the other, smaller items.

And, related to this thought, when you put the big items into your calendar, FOCUS ON THEM! Resist the urge to blow right past them and put them off. Discipline yourself to focus first on the Strategic and them the operational and execution-oriented activities will flow more naturally.

Try it! If you have a white board in your office, draw the matrix there, and list your projects and activities in each quadrant. Make sure you are spending blocks of quality time in the Important & Not Urgent corner. How you spend your time will determine your ultimate level of success.

Lisa Walker is a Certified Business Coach with ActionCOACH, the World’s #1 Business Coaching Firm.  She has a proven track record of success with both small businesses and in the corporate environment. Business Coach Lisa Walker – When You’re Ready to Be the Best.

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