The techniques of Time Management I am going to share with you give you a water-tight system. There is no reason for you ever to miss an appointment or activity that is important to you again! Can that be true? Yes! But first, it is important to have an understanding of time.
Types of Time
Broadly, there are two categories of time that comprise your day – Appointments and Discretionary.
Activities that come under the category of ‘appointments’ carry the implication of being predetermined. They have a start time attached to them. Sadly, they do not always have a finish time – and this may be one of the things that occurred on your list of challenges from the last blog – interminable meetings.
Tip: In order to maximise the use of time try to determine both the start and finish time of appointments and make sure that all involved with you are aware of these
But who makes the appointment? Do appointments refer only to meetings? No! An appointment is any period of time which is scheduled in advance. It may be with someone else by agreement – a meeting, a phone call etc. Or it may be with yourself, time set aside for a specific purpose – a time of study or prayer, for writing or reflection.
Appointments can either be positive in providing a skeleton on which to hang your other activities or they can represent a blockage to being able to achieve the things that are peculiar to you. In the work context you have certain responsibilities defined by some form of job description. These are the things that should be taking quality time as, by definition of your job, they are the things that are focussed on your gift and calling. They should not be the things that are ‘tucked in’ between meetings. How do you achieve this?
First things first
There is a well known illustration to help you. If I show you an empty bucket and then fill it with large stones or boulders until they are bulging out of the top you will probably agree that the bucket is full.
If I now take smaller stones I can fill some of the space between the larger ones. Is it now full? No! I can add sand and shake it into all the remaining gaps. So now is it full? No, not even now, as I can add water.
If I were to fill the bucket with water (the trivial things of life) I can not get any of the more solid material, sand, pebbles or stones into it without spillage. Similarly, if I put water and sand in first I have the same problem with the pebbles and boulders. It is essential to put the boulders in first or they will never get in there at all.
Appointments are the things that can be written into the diary in advance. Gordon McDonald puts these boulders in 8 weeks in advance according to the quote I included last time. I find it necessary to put them in 12 months in advance, and reviewed every 3 months, as my priorities include international travel, meetings with other busy people which may be scheduled to last for several days and so on. If these are not first put in the diary sacrifices have to be made – often affecting other people – in order to force them in later.
In the next posting I will consider Discretionary time, which will allow us to begin to discuss priorities and planning.
But meanwhile, don’t forget the boulders…