Time to do things? – Art of doing more of few things!

Recently one of my clients wanted a training program on the ‘Key habits of successful project managers’ and this made me to revisit the ‘7 habits of highly effective people’ course ware, which was gathering dust in my small library of books which I have read completely or partially. This may be the answer to many of my project management workshop participants, who do not have the time to prepare for the exam, after investing their money and valuable time for attending the workshop. Most of them complain about external factors, for their inability to prepare for the exam, and get those credentials, which can give a boost to their career, if not protecting their career during recession time.

Stephen Covey, in his master piece ‘7 habits of highly effective people’ talks about ‘Put first things first’. First things are those things that you, personally, find most worth doing. They move you in the right direction and help you achieve the most important goals of your life. Time is constant. All of us have only 24 hours / day. It is all about managing your priorities. That is the only thing possible. Time management is out. Self management is in.

If we analyze the activities we do, during the day, they can be classified into;

Quadrant #1 Urgent & Important stuff

  • Crises
  • Pressing problems
  • Deadline driven projects and meetings, preparations etc

Quadrant #2  Not urgent and important

  • Preparation
  • Prevention
  • Values clarification
  • Planning
  • Relationship building
  • True-recreation
  • Empowerment
  • Higher studies

Quadrant #3 Urgent & not important activities

  • Interruptions
  • Some phone calls
  • Some mails, some reports
  • Some meetings
  • Many proximate pressing matters
  • Many popular activities

Quadrant #4  Not urgent & Not Important

  • Trivia busy work
  • Some telephone calls
  • Time wasters
  • Escape activities
  • Excessive TV
  • Chatting
  • Pointless surfing etc…

Quadrant#2 activities, important&not urgent activities  are the most critical. These are the activities which will give you maximum leverage towards your goals achievement, and at the same time Quadrant#1 activities cannot be avoided, they are the urgent and important stuff. By focusing on Quadrant #2 activities more and more, the time spent on Quadrant#1 will automatically come down. Unfortunately, the problem with Quadrant#2 activities is the fact that they are not urgent. That means, even if you do not do them, nobody is going to question you, and at the same time these are the ones, which will give you maximum benefit.

We can easily find out time for Quadrant#2 and Quadrant#1 activities, by eliminating / reducing quadrants 3 & 4.

When I was a smoker, smoking around 10 cigarettes per day, despite the ‘SMOKING is injurious’ signs, per day I was spending approximately 2 hours/day  in smoking only, which amounts to 14 hours/ week.  Smoking is a typical not urgent and not important Q#3 activity. By quitting smoking, I get an additional 14 hours / week to spend on Q#2 and Q#1 activities.

Dear friend. Stop the ‘blame it on circumstances’ game and start taking responsibility of your actions and time, because time is constant, and you can manage only your priorities.

So I already spent 44 minutes in blogging, and I hope, it is a Q#2 activity, if it is impacting you positively, else even this post is a result of Q#3 or Q#4 🙂

Suggested reading ‘The seven habits of highly effective people’ by Stephen Covey

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