Jim Croce sang about his desire to stop the passing of time and keep it for later use. Don’t we wish! Time is the great equalizer. Every day each of gets the same amount of time and all leaders want more.
More isn’t available. We can neither create time nor hold onto it. For leaders especially, time is not their own. It belongs to the organization.
We want to use our time as effectively as we can. What does that mean? Does it mean tight scheduling or getting as many meetings squeezed into a day as possible? Is it one-minute managing?
Quite the opposite! The effective use of time is best achieved when we stop and focus on how we spend our time versus how we schedule it. That’s right, to use time effectively, we must first slow down.
What should be our priorities? How do we go about achieving them versus just continually working on them? Two great leaders, Peter Drucker and Robert Wegman, provide answers:
Peter Drucker wrote:
“It’s useless to lock the door. They’ll break in… When you’re alone, ask the question, “What needs to be done?” Develop your priorities and don’t have more than two. I don’t know anybody who can do three things at the same time well. Two works better for most. But, when you’re finished with two, or reach a point where it’s futile, make the list again. Don’t go back to priority three, at that point it’s obsolete.”
Have just two items on our to do list?
Robert Wegman, in an interview about his keys to success, said, “Focus and finish,”
Have two priorities and focus and finish! How simple and yet, profound.
Most time management systems are about getting more done. Effective leadership demands that we prioritize a few important things and accomplish them well. Limiting ourselves through planning and self-control is the key to achieving this.
No, we can’t keep time in a bottle but we can get more value from the time we have by limiting our priorities and “focusing and finishing”. It works.