Keeping Priorities and Time Management in Alignment

graphic that says keeping priorities and time management in alignment

by Tara Powers

Are employees spending time working on the RIGHT things that will grow your business? Are discussions about top priorities a regular part of management meetings? When is the last time you or your team assessed time management skills?

Each day all of us face the same challenge – a lot to do and limited time to do it. However, there are many savvy business people that have recognized the key to personal and professional success lies in consistently utilizing personal time management skills as well as analyzing and influencing daily environmental pressures. These individuals have learned to spend their time on what matters most.

Understanding and applying time management strategies can help you make tough choices about what to do and what not to do as you go about your day. By critically analyzing how you “spend” your time, you will begin to recognize time wasters and time enhancers that impact your productivity and stress-level on the job and at home.

The Covey Model of Time Management explains that their are two factors that determine any activity:

  1. Is it Urgent? Requiring immediate attention and action, causing us to react.2. Is it Important? Creating results in our work and life and contributing to our vision, purpose and values.

Once you understand these factors and you make decisions on how to prioritize and spend your time, your time will ALWAYS fall into one of four “buckets” or Quadrants.

Quadrant 1 activities are considered Important and Urgent. These activities are:

  • Significant issues that require immediate attention like crises, fires or problems
  • These activities can end up dominating you and your time on a daily basis

Quadrant 2 activities are considered Important But Not Urgent. These activities are:

  • The most important area of effective personal management
  • About building relationships
  • Long range planning
  • Exercising and health maintenance
  • Values clarification
  • Areas we spend least amount of time in

Quadrant 3 activities are considered Urgent But Not Important. These activities include:

  • Interruptions, some calls
  • Some mail, some reports and some meetings
  • Bad way to spend your time – isn’t helping to reach your goals
  • Don’t misinterpret urgency for importance (usually based on the expectations of others)
  • Ask “what will be the consequence if I don’t do this?

Quadrant 4 activities are considered Not Important and Not Urgent. They are:

  • Time wasters, busy work
  • Irrelevant mail and email
  • Some phone calls
  • Excessive TV or surfing the net
  • Escape activities

Covey Leadership Center, Inc. (1996)

As I analyze my time over the last six weeks, I spent most of time in Quadrant 1 and 3 and guess what ~ I didn’t feel very productive, satisfied or fulfilled. I am no closer to reaching my goals than I was 6 weeks ago. The reason for that is that I didn’t plan enough Quadrant 2 time each day.

As a business leader, you and your team should be analyzing your priorities and time regularly to make sure that you are spending time on what matters most. At the end of the day the other stuff your employees are doing most likely isn’t making any positive difference.

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