Tag Archives: goals

Do you Never Seem to Have Enough Time to do Everything?

Eisenhower Was a Very Astute Man. And did you know that he came up with the hard workUrgent/Important Matrix before Dr Stephen Covey? I didn’t, until I was reading the ILM (Institute of Leadership and Management) magazine Edge several years ago.

Eisenhower said ‘An intellectual is a man who takes more words than is necessary to tell more than he knows.’

The Urgent/Important Matrix is about using time effectively, not just efficiently, and in my experience the more effectively you use time the more efficient you become

In this day and age there just never seems to be enough time.  Is this really true?

How often have you taken time out to ‘Stop and Stare’? And perhaps realise what you are doing is getting you nowhere. We’re anxious, we can’t concentrate, everything gets in the way, and then, we simply blow. We tell ourselves that we can do so much because we have so many ‘labour saving’ devices, smartphones, PCs, laptops, we can be contacted anywhere at any time.

In spite of all these gadgets and online calendars (that everyone can set us up appointments with (if we let them) – do we really mange our time efficiently?

Do we spend our time on things that are important and not just urgent? It’s important to distinguish between important and just urgent.

  • Important activities have an outcome that leads to the achievement of your goals.
  • Urgent activities demand immediate attention, and are often associated with the achievement of someone else’s goals (ah had you noticed that?).

We often concentrate on just urgent activities. The things that make the most noise, the things that demand attention because the consequences of not dealing with them are immediate.

The Urgent/Important Matrix is a useful tool for thinking about this.

Eisenhower said, ‘What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.’ This so-called “Eisenhower Principle” is purported to be how Eisenhower organized his tasks. Dr Stephen Covey made the idea more public in his business classic, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”.  Covey called it the “The Urgent/Important Matrix”  It is something I use myself regularly and I encourage my clients to use it too, because it works in reminding us what is really important.

The Urgent/Important Matrix is a powerful way to use to think about priorities. Using it helps you prevent the natural tendency to focus on urgent activities, so that you learn to keep enough time to focus on what’s really important. This is the way you move from “fire fighting”, into a position where you can grow your business and your career.

This is how it works:

Divide an A 4 page into 4 as below

Urgent                                                         Non-Urgent

Important I

Activities

Crises

Pressing Problems

Deadline driven projects

 

II

Prevention

Relationship building

Recognising new appointments

Planning recreation

Non-Important  

III

Interruptions, some phone calls

Some mail, some reports

Some meetings

Proximate, pressing matters

Popular activities

 

IV

Trivia, busy work

Some mail

Some phone calls

Time wasters

Pleasant activities

Assess the importance to all the activities on a scale of 1 to 5

Remember Eisenhower also said: ‘Leadership – the art of getting someone else to do something that you want done because he wants to do it.’  (Words that Change Minds – the LAB Profile – the language of influence is useful for facilitating this)

When people see you are clear about your objectives and boundaries, they will generally not ask you to do ‘not important’ activities in the future, and at best do it themselves or find someone else.

Do the Hardest Work First

I read somewhere recently ‘do the hardest work first’, that most great achievers take ondaydreaming-desk-hair-6384the difficult work of practice in the mornings, before they do anything else. Ah so that’s why I prefer to exercise in the morning because we tend to move away from pain and toward pleasure, so for me in the evenings lounging around is preferable. Of course mornings are also when I have more energy and am less likely to be distracted. Not that the distraction is necessarily     negative, but other people will have demands on my time, their need might be greater than me.  The client in despair (I need to listen and advise), the supplier who wants me to pay them (we negotiate), the trainee who suddenly has sent me some work in, that they need me to give feedback on (either before they take the next step or they might have made a choice that is not necessarily the right one).

So I need to do the hardest work first, in terms of the Language and Behaviour Profile, I can be both towards and away from, I do weigh up the consequences (not all the time – I’m human after all) and evaluate is that a potentially good decision?  I’m motivated both by what I can achieve and sometimes will achieve so I’m also motivated by possibilities and options. Too many options and we do nothing, here’s an idea, there’s an idea, how about this idea?  If you are someone likes lots of ideas some of the time, or if certain circumstances it can be difficult for you to make a choice, or you never make a choice and if you work with other people, those other people can be left behind. Uncertain of what they are supposed to do with all the opportunities you have given them, especially when they were working on getting something else finished. A little follow through on your behalf would be good, otherwise the others are overwhelmed, or they just give up and walk off.

Too much time spent on the “what ifs” usually leads to inertia, stagnation, being stuck, especially if you like detail and get lost in the detail, it becomes difficult to find your way out of the maze.  Add to that if you need other people to tell you if you’ve done a good job and there’s no one there in the maze with you then you could be stuck for ever in despair.  On the other hand if you know yourself that something is wrong here and you spend a lot of time looking for things to confirm that then you’ll be even more stuck.

Just do the hardest work first, get it out of the way, get on with it, get your finger out!  Stop saying I can’t, if only, I need this, I need someone else to, I have to.

Consider this there are some things you do really easily, quickly, with aplomb – do you see these things in some way? Do you hear sounds in your head about these? Do you have emotions or feelings in your body about them?  Do you taste something in your mouth?  Do you smell something?  Do you talk to yourself about these things?  And whichever one of those you do, how do you use your internal representations to make them appealing?  Think about this.

Then consider those things you find hard to do, yet it would be useful for you to do them, how do you represent these things to yourself, well one of them anyway, let’s not overdo it here;) What happens when you change the way you represent (think/feel/see)this to make things more appealing?

Photo by Kaboompics .com from Pexels

 

On Being Response-able

A useful tip in respect of reactions to ‘things’ that happen.

No one can ‘make’ you do anything, comments like ‘every time you do that you make blamerme’, ‘that just made me’, ‘people like that make me’ – all of those statements are really just an excuse – we are refusing to be response- able.

It’s useful to remember that you are in control and therefore when someone else does something you have a choice to respond or not and when you respond it can also be useful to remember that you are response-able. Able to respond in a way that is appropriate for you. So when someone you are getting to know says or does something and it starts to ‘make you’ react in some way, perhaps you can use the ‘bubble’ (as in ‘Being in the Present’*) or use the ‘circle’ (as in ‘A Good and Resourceful State’*), think about what to ask next or question what the other person is saying (in your head first and think about the tonality, the words, your body posture). Check out is this some ‘programmed’ reaction from the past? How important is this person to you? Would you be willing to change your response, are you willing and able to make this change to the way you respond? And become able to respond in a better way.

 

* Refers to chapters in the book ‘Finding the Relationship you Deserve’

 

LAB Profile® Consultant Case Studies

Case Study 1

An organisation intended that within 2 years its staff will work from home.  To prepare them for this, they learned how to use the Language and Behaviour Profile and its language patterns.

In the first place the senior manager discovered as a person they were too fast for the remainder of the team.  Good in some respects, yet when explaining to the rest of the team what needed to be done, the others were often still thinking about the first part of sentence A, whilst the senior manager was on sentence D.   The senior manager learned a little more about themselves and what type of language and behaviour patterns they were using.  As well as learning how to slow down and deliver what needed to be said sometimes using language that was alien to the senior manager (who was highly visual, focussed on getting things done, quick thinking, goal focussed).  They also learned the right language that worked for their staff about prevention, avoid this or that, sometimes talking about the problems to be avoided rather than the benefits.

The result was cohesive team working and a better understanding of one another and meeting of objectives.

 

Another member of the team complained that the senior manager “doesn’t listen when I talk to them”.  She knew from this learning that the senior manager prefers to see things, so the suggestion was made that team member put what they wanted to say either on a simple spreadsheet, or preferably on a PowerPoint slide with some neat graphics, printed it out and physically took it to the team leader and asked “May I show you this and talk you through it.”  Did it work?  Well the senior manager wrote in an email to the consultant (people with a visual preference like emails) “I see you’ve been giving my team tips.  Guess what?  It worked!  I was more prepared to listen”.

 

A further team member is very good at getting work done, but more so than the senior manager leaves the others behind, whilst they bulldoze on regardless, with no regard for the culture they are working in, or the culture they are living in.   There are conclusions to draw from that, as the person is not really ideal in this environment.

 

Some of this management team became aware that they are not suited for working at home; they need to be with other people.  They work best with others around them, not because they want to chat, they just need human company.

 

This type of profiling requires skill and can be learned by a member or members of staff, it is always carried out face to face, either as a profile or in listening for what others say or how they write.

 

Case Study 2

Legal professional

Some individuals are ‘paralysed’ by options, opportunities, and possibilities?  So many things they could do and if they decided for one or the other of them, they would worry that there might have been or will be a better option, opportunity, or possibility coming along than the decision they have made or are about to make.

 

A lawyer we worked with stated ‘when I heard you mention this that it sent a cold shiver down my spine, I can identify with that. I spend ages in inertia, and then I do miss out.’

His tendency had been to shrug his shoulders and say ‘oh well that wasn’t the right thing for me.’ ‘Another time maybe’, ‘that’s the way life is,’ ‘not my turn this time’. He had noticed that this infuriated others; these people wanted him to ‘get a move one’, ‘for goodness sake – do something’, ‘do it now,’ ‘do it before it’s too late’.

Working with this individual he learned to let go of his ‘gut feelings’, ‘his personal preferences’ and be clear when the work in hand was truly in the best interests of others and ‘client’ rather than what he felt was best.  He was able to act in a more precise and cost effective fashion. (Freeing some time up for his work/life balance).

 

Case Study 3

Senior Manager

who was receiving coaching (from another party) and wasn’t getting anywhere (there were many reasons for that). Listening out for this individual’s language patterns it became clear that in their previous position they had worked well because they motivated by deadlines given by others and that these patterns were effective for that individual and always had been.  We set up an effective plan for that person that is still being followed through and has again not only impacted on work but also on their work/life balance, as they were able to take the decision to buy permanent accommodation and stay in the area.

 

Case Study 4

Local government officers implementing change management.

One of the traits of a great many local government employees is the aspect of a ‘job for life’.  This has led to a large number of employees who have a requirement for things to stay the same on a continuous basis. One of the best anecdotal examples of this comes from someone’s personal life (this is easier than pinpointing an individual’s work)

 

These individuals like to do the same job over and over again. What might seem boring and repetitive to you is actually enjoyable to them. And similarly what is different and new may seem awful to them.  So for an individual who likes a great number of things to stay the same; he’s lived in the same house for years.  For years he also always purchased the same diary for week (he liked to get his own) it was always purchased at Woolworth.  I’m not sure if you can imagine the how shocking it was – to him – when Woolworth closed down.  However he assures me he’s found an almost identical one somewhere else.  Careful use of the language patterns surrounding the Language and Behaviour Profile can keep this type of person employed in the right manner.  If necessary the patterns can also be used skilfully to facilitate early retirement or to get things moving in other ways.

We have used these patterns to train continuous improvement officers to get a buy in from with teams entrenched in unproductive habits and then to ultimately get the teams to accept change. This also allows some individuals to self-select to leave without pain on all sides.

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