I recently heard Rory Vaden, author of Procrastinate on Purpose, speak at the Secret Service Summit in Cleveland. Rory shared a unique take on an age old problem - there are only 24 hours in a day and only so many things a person can do with this time limitation.
Rory shared a history of Time Management Theory:
- One dimensional thinking: This is all about efficiency and how to get it done faster. During this phase, we created tools and technology to help us check off the items on our to do lists. But, rather than solving the Time Management problem, we just started having longer to do lists… the amount of busy work always expands to fill whatever time we make available, and we’ll never be “done” with everything.
- Two dimensional thinking: This is all about prioritizing. Our Covey fans will recognize his contribution to this era with his 4-Quadrant time management matrix. Here, we focus first on what’s most important and urgent. The limitation with prioritizing is that our priorities can become diluted, and we can fall victim to responding to whatever is latest and loudest.
- Three-dimensional thinking: Vaden argues that the new era of time management is all about significance - or, how long something is going to matter and whether it will have an impact on the future. Vaden argues that deciding how to spend our time is not a logical decision but an emotional one. He says we don't need more tips and tricks for efficiency or calendars, checklists, tools and technology to prioritize our time; what we need is to give ourselves permission to do what is going to make an impact on the future. We can multiply our time by letting ourselves spend time on things today that will give us more time tomorrow.
Vaden’s emphasis on the importance of getting outside the noise to think about the long term reminded me of the importance of having a Think Rhythm, of spending time picking your head up from the day to day priorities and tasks and really think about the future of your business and plan your long term vision and strategy. While carving out this regular time to think may seem like a luxury you can’t afford, it is essential to give yourself permission to focus on what is significant in your business (and in your life) rather than remaining in the hustle of your hectic day.