Taking Time out

by Niharika Gupta on Thursday 16 June 2011, 3:10 PM | Category: Miscellaneous| View: 765 views


"The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing." – a great philosopher

So often I hear people say, "I can't afford to take time out of my busy schedule to plan!" To that I respond by saying, "If you are that tight on time, then you can't afford NOT to take time out to plan." I'll illustrate my point with a real-life example.

Over the past year my uncle has worked with two very bright and capable women who have a lot in common. I'll call them Ishita and Maytri (not their real names). Both are professionals working in similar fields. Both supervise a large team of employees. Both are married to spouses who also work outside the home. Both are mothers of school-age kids. Both are about the same age. Both struggle with managing the volume of paper and electronic information they receive daily. Looking at these women from the outside, they appear to have a lot in common.

And they are very different. Ishita and Maytri independently hired me to help them get organized. I spent some time talking with them about their priorities. Why? Because organizing one's physical environment without first clarifying priorities is like rearranging deck chairs on The Titanic!

Although I am devoting the majority of this article to a discussion about time management, I want to first point out the difference between management and leadership. Management works within the system. Leadership works on the system. A philosopher reminds us that "fundamental to putting first things first in our lives is leadership before management." It becomes critical to ask yourself, "Am I doing the right things?" before "Am I doing things right?"

Once you are clear about your priorities (doing the right things), planning and organizing around those priorities is essential. This is because we are a society that is urgency addicted. We tend to focus on that which is urgent -- whether the activity is important or not.
"It's important to realize that urgency itself is not the problem. The problem is that when urgency is the dominant factor in our lives, importance isn't. What we regard as "first things" are urgent things. We're so caught up in doing; we don't even stop to ask if what we're doing really needs to be done."

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