One thing that is totally essential if you want to be an influential leader is that you must master how you spend your time. There will be tips coming soon in the series which will help you master time management. But ultimately how you manage your time comes down to how you live out your priorities.
Ask yourself this: “What’s one thing you could do (that you aren’t doing now) that if you did on a regular basis, would make a tremendous positive difference in your professional life, business or career?”
Your answer will most likely fall into what Stephen Covey has termed “Quadrant II” – things that are Important and Not Urgent.
Focus On QII
Urgent matters can be defined as something external to us that press on us and insist on action. They’re often popular with others. They’re often right in front of us, but are also often unimportant.
Important matters have to do with results. Something important contributes to your mission, your values, your high priority goals.
Because your answer to the question at the beginning of this article fell into Quadrant II (Q II), it stands to reason that the more time you can spend in Q II, the more successful you will be. Covey found this to be true. In his classic book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Covey discovered that the average person spends less than 5% of their time in QII, while the most effective leaders spend at least 50% of their time there!
Q II is the place of proactivity – these things require initiative from us. Just look at what you wrote down. Was it something like one of these?
- Strategic planning
- Building relationships
- Making follow up calls
- Saying “no” to the urgent activities that distract me from my purpose
- Finishing that proposal I’ve been procrastinating on
- Connecting with my vision every day
- Following through on goals that will help my career on a daily basis
- Honing my influencing skills
All of these are Q II activities. You want to maximize the time you spend in Q II. Covey summarizes it this way: The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.
Influential Leadership Action Tip
Here’s a quick tip that I’ve found helpful. Think about your morning routine. Most of us come in and do what…? We check our voice mail and e-mail. Then more times than not one of those messages distracts us (or even upsets us) and before we realize it, the whole morning has been consumed. It takes us out of the game we really want to play.
Instead try this: Take the first hour of your work day and work on something important – some Q II activity. For business owners I often recommend a revenue-producing activity. Whatever it is, it’s probably not an urgent thing. You may have been putting it off, but you know doing it will make a huge difference in your success.
I suggest getting a timer that counts down from 60 minutes. Psychologically, we tend to work more efficiently when we see “we only have 15 minutes left.” After the hour has passed, feel free to check your messages or take a break. You’ve just completed what is probably the most effective task of the day – and you still have the whole day left!
Try this for the next two weeks and see if you notice a difference. You’ll be amazed at how effective, efficient and powerful you are!
And comment here or drop us a note to let us know…
(Contributed by David C Miller.)