Act N O W:  No Opportunity Wasted!

Time Management has become one of the more popular subjects to study.  Numerous books have been written  on  the  topic. Numerous devices exist that profess saving time. But in reality can anyone save time? We are all allotted the same number of hours in a day. Why is it, then, that some individuals, albeit few, seem to utilize their hours efficiently and in a calm and relaxed manner?

One answer may be tied into the martial arts. In business, individuals often overreact to situations. Almost everything is urgent or a crisis in our present work environments. In the martial arts there is an expression… “Mind like Water”. Imagine a pebble thrown into a pond of still water. The water reacts – appropriately … exerting the required energy and then returning to calm. This is known as a state of readiness in Karate, where the mind is open to whatever comes our way.

Now imagine the “pebbles” that are thrown at you during your work day.  How do you react?  If you are like many, other people’s  urgencies  become yours  and distract  you from the issues  that are most important for you and your organization. By calmly assessing  the importance  and urgency of each “pebble” you will be able to absorb and dissipate the energy quickly and efficiently allowing more time, energy and focus for your long term goals.

Stephen Covey talks about working in Quadrant II in his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Focusing on Quadrant II ties into the Mind like Water state of readiness. When working in Quadrant II you are looking  at the big picture. You are creating a path that leads to a goal. Establishing a path enables you to open your mind and focus your energy on the activities that will help you reach that goal.

To navigate the path, the appropriate instrument must be  used. That  instrument is  a compass; however, many of us utilize only the clock.  To explain this analogy, the clock represents commitments, appointments, schedules and activities – what you do with your time. The compass represents your visions, values, principles, mission – the larger terrain of your business and personal lives. The two are often in conflict. To contribute to what is most important you must effectively manage the conflict between the clock and the compass by setting clear short and long-term goals, and not allowing the urgency of others to become your own. This will lead to less stress, more productivity, and innovation. So for effective time management, when that pebble arrives, you must be certain that you are working on the most important item at that given point in time. All else must be “scheduled” around that objective. Remember, even though there is no shortcut, there is a path.

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Linda Beck
(905) 271-3803
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