Now that you have set your mission, now it's time to fill out the details and balance your priorities. Take a look at the circular diagrams and the Weekly Time Study worksheet. Right click on each image, save it to your computer and print it out. These are your worksheets for this exercise. Right click on each image and "save link as" to your desktop. Then you can print out the images for use. The third image is a .pdf. You will need to download and install the free Adobe Reader to open it. The final image thumbnail is linked to an Excel spreadsheet that will calculate your time study for you. You will need Excel installed on your computer to make use of this option.
Use the time circle to record your average day. How much time do you spend sleeping, watching TV, reading, working, doing self-care, leisure, or doing nothing? If you have color crayons handy you could color in each hour assigning one color for each category.
Are there any surprises? Do you feel that your time reflects your central priorities, values and principles, dreams or life mission? How would you change things?
Now lets look at your time management as it relates to things that are important and urgent. This is called the Time Management Matrix.
· Deadline-driven projects, meetings, preparations
· Interruptions, some phone calls
· Some mail, some reports
· Many proximate, pressing matters
· Many popular activities
Some phone calls
Make a schedule of your average week, day by day through all seven days of the week. Use the Covey quadrants and subtitles to classify your time (see above). Total up the number of hours you spend with each activity. Now figure out what percentage of total time in each quadrant. Does the amount of time you spend with each activity reflect your mission, values, dreams, goals?
How you spend your time now determines how likely you will achieve your goals. Quadrant II, the Important-NonUrgent tasks are the important and most neglected. It is critically important that you find more time for these tasks. The NonImportant-NonUrgent tasks can be eliminated. The NonImportant-Urgent tasks get more attention than they deserve and can be pushed down on the priority list or eliminated.
How might you use your time more in line with your center circle? Figure out what really matters to you in life. Fun and relaxation are an essential part of living a well-balanced life. The key is not only knowing your priorities, but devoting your full attention to just one priority at a time. Multitasking dilutes your effort into several mediocre efforts. Drop unnecessary activities, drop any commitments and pursuits that don't make your center circle.
Protect your private time, the time you use to recharge, to renew your energy and focus. Recharging is different for everyone. Some need leisure time, so engage in the sort of planning we've been doing here. Some talk through their ideas with their life partner or a close friend. Make sure you allow for time for fun, relaxation, to renew your most important relationships.
Many people may struggle at this point. Some may be tempted to stop their balancing process without finishing. Some may be satisfied with how they spend their time now. If you are not satisfied and still are unsure how to proceed, accept help to balance your life. Talk to your life partner, a close friend or family member. Talk to your physician, your religious leader, your counselor. Or you can contact Dave call (763)600-7609, but don't leave a voice mail with confidential information. Or get yourself a Secure/Encrypted Email account and send me email at davemsw[at]protonmail[dot]com
Now schedule out your next week based on your new priorities, reflecting a more planful approach to the meaningful activities and neglected quadrants.
Adapted from First Things First by Steven Covey, A. Roger Merrill, and Rebecca R. Merrill
© 1994 Covey Leadership Center, Inc. New York, NY