First Things First

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on July 02, 2009 in: Just Blogging, Time Management Strategies

Time management is a must-do activity that most people struggle with at one time or another in their personal and professional lives. Because life isn’t a neat and tidy place, we end up overbooked on some days and underbooked on others, and sometimes distracted with meaningless things and sometimes so overwhelmed that we’re not able to spend time with people we love.

There are plenty of good time management techniques out there, and I find that different techniques are right for different people, depending on lifestyle and what kind of business is being run.

One technique that I really like is Stephen Covey’s First Things First “Habit”. Covey (who co-wrote First Things First with A. Roger Merrill and Rebecca R. Merrill) recommend a time management system that might also be considered a relationship management system. Note: I am briefly describing their Roles/Goals calendaring system here and am not summarizing the entire book.

They recommend that you start each week by thinking about what your roles are – for all aspects of your life. In my case, I’m a business owner, wife, mother, friend, and volunteer. Then, beside each role, I should write down a couple of goals for the week. Maybe a goal as a mother is to go to the park with the kids. And maybe a goal as a friend is to get together with someone I haven’t touched base with in a couple of months.

What makes this concept even better, in my opinion, is the step in which you think about how you can connect goals across roles. For example, maybe I can accomplish two goals at the same time: I can bring my kids to the park at 1PM on Saturday and invite my friend to bring her children to the park at 2PM. I get some time with my kids, I get to see my friend, my kids get to play with other kids, it’s all good!

Scheduling these goals in becomes one of the first things we do, like placing the biggest rocks in that proverbial jar before placing the smaller stones and pebbles in.

I like this scheduling methodology because it is far more flexible than other methods of scheduling (like the classic “A1, A2, A3, B1, B2, etc.” method). And, it respects who I am. Most importantly, it pushes me to think about what roles define who I am and how I can be better at them.

I’m not saying that everyone should adopt this practice all the time. I certainly don’t. But there is value in revisiting your roles and goals from time to time and if you’re looking for a different way to schedule some proactive lifestyle-changing time, give Covey’s First Things First schedule a try.

Happy Blogging!

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