Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The 3-Step Program to Take Back Control of Your Time!

As I move about and talk to various people, I see so many who seem to be constantly feeling overwhelmed.  As I do, I ask myself:
  • What are these people so busy doing?  
  • When do they have time to think?
  • How is what they're doing helping them and their organizations move forward in a significant way?
  • Is some of what they're doing possible to simplify, automate, delegate, or perhaps just stop doing all together?  If they did, would anyone miss it?  Would their be any noticeable impact?
The more I thought about this, the more I realized how important focusing is. Focusing on things that matter, that have the greatest impact, that move you and your organization forward in significant ways, and stop doing things that don't. 

The questions then arose in my mind were while this sounds nice, where does one begin to take back control one's schedule, and what's the process by which one would regain greater focus and control?  As I reflected on this, what surfaced in my thoughts is what I will refer to as The CI Model (CIM).  Image is above.

In CIM, there are 4 Boxes.  They are:
  • Box 1: Important/No Control 
  • Box 2: Important/Control
  • Box 3: Not Important/No Control
  • Box 4: Not Important/Control
 As to what I mean by these terms, it is as follows:
  • Important: Activities that move you, your team, and your organization forward in a significant way towards established goals.  These are activities that have significant pay off in comparison to time and resources invested.
  • Not Important: Activities that don't move you forward towards established goals in any significant manner. These are things that take up physical and mental resources yet payoff is relatively small, if any at all, considering the effort and time investment.
  • Control: These are activities that must be done by you given your expertise and qualifications.  In addition, you get to decide whether these are to be done, or not done, how they are to be done, and when.
  • No Control: These are things that fall on your plate but they don't need to be done necessarily by you, if they need to be done at all in the first place.
If you agree with this so far, below are the 3 steps to follow to take back control of your schedule and focus on what matters most. The time you invest in doing this will more then pay off in freed up time and resources. In other words, time investment will be relatively small in comparison to pay off in the long-run. Here are the 3 steps:

Step 1: Do a brain dump.  Empty your brain. Write down everything that is on your plate right now.
Step 2: Move each of the items you have listed into appropriate boxes within the CIM.
Step 3: For items listed within each box, do as follows:
  • Box No. 4 - Immediately stop doing it.
  • Box No. 3 - First, question if this needs to be done at all.  If not, stop it.  If it does for some reason, renegotiate with whoever assigned this to you, to get it moved off your plate.  If you can't get it off your plate, look for ways to streamline it, automate it.
  • Box No. 2 - As much as possible, focus your time and energy in this box for this will lead to greatest impact. The more you focus here, the more you and your organization benefit.
  • Box No. 1 - Its important to do this work but its not necessary that you do it.  Therefore try to get it off your plate and look for someone else who can do this, both to free up your time and that it could serve to develop an upcoming colleague who could benefit by taking this on. 
Go ahead, give this a go.  This will help you not only take back control of your time (and your life), it'll also help you remain focused, in control, and lead to greater gains for you, your team, and your organization.  Everyone will win.

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