Effective Time Management: Spend Your Time on an Agenda Instead of in Reaction Mode
Time management can often turn into a slippery slope initiative. No matter what your role in an organization is, when you have a lot on your plate and you need to prioritize exactly what it is that your time and focus should be on, you start running into issues. Scheduling every component of your day into five minute segments isn’t realistic. Life happens. Leaving your day up in the air leaves you in an endless cycle of reaction to problems as they pop up. So, where is the sweet spot?
When you have a lot to do, and you have a lot of tasks and individuals depending on you, it’s easy to get consumed. It feels overwhelming, like you are performing every task at 60% of your capability instead of 100%. It’s not that you can’t complete the work well, it’s that you don’t have enough hours in a day. Getting caught up in the littlest of details on one project can put you behind in ways that make it difficult to recover. The trick is to be realistic with yourself.
There are only so many hours in day. Walking in without an agenda is a bad call. Can you stick to the schedule 100% of the time? No. Does that mean you shouldn’t have one together with your priorities in order? Of course not. Spending time creating an agenda is time spent investing in your own success. You are giving yourself a clear outline of the easiest road ahead for you to take. What are the “right now” tasks? What are the “these will take time” tasks? Which tasks will you need to take time to respond to as they pop up? Anticipation is essential.
The balance between agenda and reaction works only when you add in a good amount of time for both, but your main focus is on your agenda.
Fast Company delves into how successful CEOs spend their time:
On average, CEOs spend 43% of their time on activities that furthered their agendas, while 36% was spent in a reactive mode, handling issues as they unfold. “A CEO’s life is being driven by set of priorities or by strategic imperatives of company […] We learned CEO time is event drive as much as it is agenda driven. CEOs have to be so structured with their time.”
So, while the time is split between furthering their agendas and in reactive mode, the agendas weigh more in percentage of time spent. Ask yourself a few important questions? What is the most valuable way for you to spend your time daily? How much time can you allot to activities that involve responding to new tasks that pop up throughout the day (like email)? How accessible do you need to be throughout the day and when does it make sense for you to unplug to focus on the tasks on your agenda?
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