Almost everyone at some point in their career will toy with adopting some kind of time-management system. Very few stick with it. The challenge is that too many time-management systems focus too deeply on the activity level — what to do first, what to do next, what the priority order is —without paying enough attention to the bigger picture. Simply viewing the world through the lens of urgent vs important is not enough.
The bigger picture starts with understanding how you spend your time and then considering how you want to spend your time.
An easy tool which places time into instructive time levels makes use of 4 quadrants which can be:
Of its nature, time is finite. If you are spending it on one thing, you are not spending it on another. Highly effective people tend to accumulate time day after day in the treasured and investment levels, and pro-actively fight to dwell less in the mandatory and empty time zones.
Indeed, success follows as you accumulate time in the right levels. Investments add up and eventually pay dividends. But you have to keep doing it to get the right return.
Treasured time is time you hold dear. Where we all want to get.
For different people it means different things:
Time with children or grandchildren without distractions
Vacation with loved ones
Sports and games
Working (yes, sometimes people tell us they are at peace and fulfilled most at work)
If you spend the rest of your time wisely, you will find yourself with more time available for treasured activities.
Make enough money and you can retire early and do what you want with your time. Build the right work habits and you will get more done in fewer hours, allowing you to have more treasured time each day.
The key to maximising happiness and fulfilment is maximising treasured time.
Investment time is the time you focus on becoming more effective, getting more done, getting the right things done, and achieving top performance.
You eventually get a return on your investment time as it pays dividends to gain skills and knowledge, accumulate experience, and put in the extra effort that will lead to success. Investment time can also be personal, such as investing in exercise, that can affect your professional success.
The key to success and achieving top performance is maximising investment time.
Mandatory time is time spent doing the things that it feels like you have to do (even if, in reality, you don’t). Commuting to work, shaving, brushing your teeth, paying bills. All are examples of mandatory time: things on your to-do list that it feels like you have to do.
Note that “feels like” is not “have to”. You can minimise mandatory time by turning it into invested time, such as listening to business books while you drive. You can also turn it into treasured time by listening to books you enjoy reading, so you free up an hour in the evening to do something else. You can move closer to where you work and minimise the commuting or try to work from home. You can also choose to delegate mandatory time to others, like using a delivery service for your grocery shopping.
The key to mandatory time is to minimise it or convert it into treasured or investment time.
Empty time is exactly as it sounds: time spent, nothing done, nothing gained. At least with mandatory time, if you need to spend 30 minutes to get a haircut, your hair gets cut.
If you are just flipping through Facebook, watching YouTube videos, or reading weekly jokes you are simply letting time pass.
Now, you may treasure this time. If that’s the case, so be it. But most people would prefer to decrease the time they spend watching TV, playing games on the Internet, scrolling through Facebook, or puttering around the house aimlessly.
We all need some empty time. Just doing nothing or being mindless is important for recharging. We all need rest. However, most people have and would like to, reallocate empty time to better use. The key to empty time is to eliminate as much of it as you can. If you are like most people, changing your mandatory and empty time habits will be hard.
Delegating or eliminating mandatory time and minimising both mandatory and empty time, means changing habits. Where people tend to spend their time on any given day is a reflection of how they are likely to spend time for months and years to come.
Time is a habit. If you want to be extremely productive, you first have to understand your time habits. Only after understanding these habits can you do something to change them.
The views given herein are solely for information purposes; they are guidelines and suggestions and are not guaranteed to work in any particular way.
Robert Gonye is a Business Growth Expert and Influencer. He writes in his capacity. Comments and views: [email protected] Twitter handle: Robert_Gonye.