In this issue…
What does your schedule look like today? Does it start and end with things that needed to be done yesterday? Is it filled up with appointments and deadlines and customer demands?
You’re not alone. Just about every installer I’ve met is constantly busy trying to “keep up” with his workload. Every day is a reaction to the urgent needs of that day.
Now look at next week’s schedule. And the week after. Any open time ahead?
My guess is that there probably is. But by the time that “open day” rolls around, it’s likely going to have filled up with new urgent needs.
This is not a problem that can be solved with “time management”. Time itself cannot be stopped or stretched. Instead, you need to learn how to manage yourself, and your activities.
Important vs Urgent
In his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, Stephen Covey describes this illuminating 2x2 matrix, which categorizes activities as being important and/or urgent, or neither.
The question I ask in my seminars is, “In which quadrant should you be spending most of your time?” And the answer I invariably get is, “Quadrant 1”.
It’s easy to figure out that time in Quadrant 4 is trivial and non-productive. But I wonder how much of your Quadrant 1 activity, is really Quadrant 3? As much as possible, Quadrant 3 activities should be delegated (or, if possible, eliminated).
An activity is important when it exhibits one or more of these characteristics:
It reflects the values and purpose of the organization
It serves/advances the goals of the organization
Getting it done has a lasting positive impact, and/or;
Not getting it done has a lasting negative impact
It is something the owner (you) really, really likes/needs/wants to do!
If you can eliminate all non-important activities, you will have more time to work on a far more difficult issue – eliminating urgency.
The Answer is Quadrant 2
Quadrant 1 activities are reactionary. Too much time here and you are stressed and burned out, with no energy left for fun or family.
Because they don’t have a near-term deadline, Quadrant 2 activities are inherently more controlled and disciplined. This is where effective managers spend most of their time. This is where work and life can come into balance.
You will never completely eliminate crisis from your schedule. However, since many of the fires you put out are things that have happened during other similar jobs or situations, it is possible to develop systems and processes that anticipate and prevent these problems from becoming crises, in the first place.
You will need time to work on these systems and processes. This is a Quadrant 2 activity that will ultimately lead to more Quadrant 2 time. Clearly, it should be a top priority if you’d like to become consistently more effective and productive.
So, put it on your schedule. That’s the trick to gaining “important” time. Make it a priority and schedule it. After all, you’ve got some open time next week, don’t you?