Andy was a junior at the university he attended. That year, he was an R.A. In the dorm, he led a leadership team every Wednesday night, he was dating someone he felt just might be the girl he would marry, and he was in charge of a homecoming event in the fall. He felt paralyzed. No doubt, he said “yes” to too many things, but didn’t feel right about not following through on his commitments. He didn’t know what to do first.
We play defense with our calendars rather than offense. We run our schedule by default, rather than direct that schedule the way it should go. One of the first rules is: a leader can do anything, but they cannot do everything.
Determining your top priorities is one of the most issues you will face): What activities will consume your time? What people will you invest in? What projects will receive your best effort? Setting priorities is key in effective time management.
Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as we make use of. A man named Charles Richards said a wise thing, “One person gets a week’s value out of a year while another person gets a year’s value out of a week.”
Test Your Time Management Skills with this Exercise
How can I get more out of my day? Can you get more out of your day? Test yourself and see. The following quiz will give you a good understanding of how well you manage your time. This quiz is based on the concepts of Jimmy Calano and Jeff Salzman, founders of Career/Track, a leading national training organization. Try it and see where you stand. Answer yes or no:
- Do you plan tomorrow’s work today?
- Have you learned to perform routine chores at your daily “low” ebb and creative tasks at your “high” peak?
- Do you get unpleasant duties out of the way as soon as possible?
- Have you tried a “preview/review”: running the day through your head on the way to work or class?
- Are you able to deal bluntly with people who waste your time?
- Do you know how to log your time – that is, occasionally write down just how long it takes to accomplish each day’s tasks?
- When you promise you’ll get something done on time, do you always try to keep your word?
- Do you set aside a portion of each day to think, create and plan?
- Is your desk or other workplace or study area tidy? Can you find what you need without wasting time?
- Do you have an efficient filing or equipment organization?
- Do you know how to choose your most productive tasks?
- Do you know exactly what your top priorities are?
Evaluate your score:
- If you responded “yes” to 10-12 of the questions above, you handle your time excellently.
- If you responded “yes” to 7-9 of the questions, you are good, but still have room to grow.
- If you responded “yes” to 6 or below, you are wasting valuable time, and may not even know it.
Lessons We Can Learn
- It’s not how hard you work, but how smart you work. What good is it to work extremely hard when it accomplishes little? Working smarter means working on what you can do, and delegating things others can do.
- We either organize or we agonize. If we can learn to organize then we can become more efficient in getting things done. This in turn will save us a lot of time and frustration.
- We choose or we lose. If you don’t evaluate, you will stagnate. Looking at where we stand is very important. To move to the next level of leadership we must evaluate our current situation.
- This issue is not “Will my calendar be full?” but “What will fill my calendar?” Success in planning is about scheduling your priorities, not prioritizing your schedule.
- Will my day be filled by my priorities or by the requests of others? As a leader there are certain things you can do that others cannot. When you fill your day with completing the requests of others you may not be able to get done the tasks that only you can do.
- Will I lead or will I react? When we lose control we are no longer acting as a leader, but instead reacting to the immediate. When we are determined to lead, reacting is not good enough. We need to be proactive and lead.
Dr. Tim Elmore is a communicator, author, illustrator, and visionary leader. He is Vice President of EQUIP, a non-profit organization founded by Dr. John C. Maxwell to develop leaders around the world. Tim is also the founder of www.growingleaders.com a resource ministry dedicated to developing leaders and mentors among the next generation. In addition to service to folks like Elton John, the Beach Boys, KISS, John Denver, Styx and Olivia Newton-John, he has a passion for leaders. He and his wife and two children live in Atlanta, GA.
Used with permission of GrowingLeaders.com.
- More time management tips for students
- What are you spending your time on? What is your life purpose?
- Getting yourself in balance