Time management is a myth. Did that surprise you? I know that's a bold statement but think about it. Can you manage time? Do you have some control over the grand cosmic scheme of things that you can actually manage it?
Some people think about saving time. Where would you keep it? You can't. All you can do with time really is spend it. And you have to spend all of it. You can't save it up for tomorrow. You can't really manage it or allocate it or move it here and there. So, it might be more accurate to look at priority management or task management because these are the ways that we spend our time.
The most important consideration is to get clear about the difference between something being urgent and something being important, and most things are both. Urgent and important at some level. Think of it as a continuum. In fact, let's create a quadrant system. If we were to put urgency on one dimension and importance on the other, you will notice that the first column is everything that's of high importance. Low importance would be over on the other side. The top row is high urgency, and the bottom row is low urgency.
Most of the tasks that we take on can be placed somewhere in this quadrant system. Is it important? How important? Is it urgent? How urgent? So, let's look at some examples for each of these quadrants. What about higher urgency, high importance? They would be found in the upper left-hand quadrant. It's both urgent and important. High urgency. high importance. This would be something like bleeding, for example. Now, I pick that one because it's really obvious that that's an urgent thing, right? If you are bleeding, you have got to deal with that right away. Well is it important? Yes, it's connected to your health and your well-being. So, bleeding is something that is both high urgency and high importance.
Before we move on to the other examples, let's just touch briefly on what we do about the things in each of the quadrants. If it's both urgent and important, handle it, and handle it now. You can't put it off because it's urgent. You don't want to ignore it at all because it's important. So, you got to handle it and you must handle it now.
Let's look at the other quadrants. How about high urgency, low importance. Urgent but not necessarily important. What kinds of things fall into that category? For me, the phone ringing. Now, I'm not saying it's not important because it might be you that is trying to call me. That would be enormously important. It is obviously urgent. I don't know yet if it's important or not. And so, it's in that category for me. Low importance, high urgency. The urgency is there because it's ringing right now. It's demanding your attention. So, I handle things in that quadrant by delegation.
Here's what I mean: On my phone, I have a fun little button that I can push. The button says, “Forward to assistant.” I push that button and my phone doesn't ring. It forwards to Cyndi who I pay to manage that quadrant of my life, the stuff that may or may not be important, that's why I put it in the low importance. But it is urgent, she handles it. She will answer the phone and she will talk with you and she'll say, “Tell me about why you're calling Dr. Paul?” And then she gets to figure out how important it is because that's going to determine what we do with that call.
It might just be a telemarketer, right? Someone who's calling to sell me a year subscription to some magazine I don't want. Or who has a new essential oil that they want me to try. Or whatever it is, right? Well, maybe I'm not interested in what they are selling. It has very low importance. It's still urgent because my phone's ringing.
Let's go to the next quadrant. Now we are jumping out of the high urgency. We are going to go down to lower urgency and it might be high importance or low importance. Let's go to this quadrant. Low urgency, high importance. Low urgency, high importance. What could be in that category? Exercise. Okay, I picked that one because it's that important. Oh, yeah. Is it urgent? Typically it's not.
There are other things in your personal development too, like taking a course in positivity for example. Reading a book that you've been telling yourself you want to read. Engaging in some kind of a coaching program. Taking care of your finances. Sometimes that's more urgent depending on what your deadlines are. Typically these things are in the high importance, low urgency category. So, what are we going to do about these things? We have to make time for these because they don't demand our time. And you are already spending time.
In fact, let's go to the last quadrant because this is going to open up some time for you. What about all that stuff that's low urgency and low importance? So, it's not urgent and it doesn't matter. These are the time wasters. Things like mindless leisure for example. Now, I'm going to make a distinction here between mindless leisure and wholesome recreation. Wholesome recreation is low urgency but high importance.
Mindless leisure is where you just turn off your brain and you disengage. Some people do this with video games. Some people do it with social media. Some people do it with television or just turn off your mind and don't engage at all. Low urgency, low importance. Guess what? That stuff is eating up a lot of your time. What if you were to take some of the time that you are wasting in that last quadrant and apply it towards those things that are low urgency but high importance? Sounds like a pretty good solution to me.
The only time you can do anything is now. At least when you are doing it, it is now. So, you want to create and schedule a now. And now shows up on your calendar or however you manage your time. How do you track your activities? I do it in my calendar. It has a start time it has an end time, and it has a very specific task in between. We are going to try to eliminate the category entirely because we can use that time for the stuff that really is important.
Now, what are you committed to use your time more effectively doing? How about your own personal development? If you don't have a copy of my book yet, Pathological Positivity, what are you waiting for? Go to drpauljenkins.com, click the big orange button. Click on that to get your free copy of this book by paying for shipping.