“If only I had enough time to… (fill in your own blank)”. How many times have you heard someone say those words in the last week? How many times have you thought those words in the last two days? I’m not sure I’ve ever met anyone who has enough time to do all of the things they should do, let alone include the things they would like to do. Nor have I ever met anyone who claimed to have too much time. And the reality is each of us has all the time there is… exactly 168 hours a week, no more no less. So then, why is it that some people find a way to get so much more done than others in the same amount of time? Or, why is it that some people are so terribly busy, they’re running here and running there but rarely get anything of significance accomplished? I have a theory and I would love to share it with you.
I’ve come to the conclusion, that for most of us, time management is not the problem. There is little doubt that each of us couldn’t get better in some aspect of time management. I’ve taught time management classes for more than 20 years. And while far from perfect, time management is not my biggest challenge either. So what is the biggest challenge to getting more done and creating more value where it matters most? I believe the answer is a lack of well thought out and clearly defined “strategic targets” which will have a significant impact on your future. Let me explain.
A “strategic target” represents an innovative, strategic idea or initiative you want to pursue. It describes where you want to be or what you want to accomplish at some point in the future. These targets could be personal or professional; they could be linked to your family life or relationships, your career or some aspect of your current job. A target could be as simple as “What are the expected outcomes of a meeting you’re facilitating this afternoon?”, or as complex as “What will the organization look like after the merger?”
Without specific targets to focus our limited time and energy, we spend a lot of time spinning our wheels on things of little strategic value, things that keep us running in frantic, meaningless circles. We’re very busy trying to do everything for everyone, and in the process, getting very little done that really matters or adds value to our lives or the lives of others. It is ironic that very few of us would get in our cars and drive frantically without a clear destination in mind. And yet, most of us have a tendency to go through our projects, jobs, careers and lives in just such a fashion… no clear destination or target in mind. No wonder we find ourselves so tired and so stressed out and yet no farther down our desired path.
Time management is not the problem… a lack of strategic targets is. What targets, if obtained, would make a difference in your life? Where are you going today? Do you know?