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Game On - This Is How I Get My Time Back

Updated: May 3, 2023

I use a concept I call “Game On!” with my executive coaching clients. It’s a potent reminder that this isn’t a dress rehearsal – you’re in a leadership position and it’s time to rise to your new challenges.

One way to take charge of your situation is through better time management. Time is not a renewable resource; use it wisely! We often hear new managers ask:

· Where is my time going?

· Why do other people seem to have time when I don’t have any?

· How do I get my time back?

Leadership is about knowing your priorities and making the most of the time and energy available to you. There is an opportunity here: adopt a mind set and framework to own your time. And there are strategies that can help.

“The most urgent decisions are rarely the most important ones.”

—Dwight D. Eisenhower

One of the most useful frameworks I use is the Eisenhower Matrix. It’s named after President Eisenhower because he had profound insight into time management and decision-making. Use this matrix to consider whether to Schedule, Do, Delegate, or Drop:

Quadrant 1: Set a Schedule for work that’s important, but not urgent.

Quadrant 2: Do work on matters that are both urgent and important as soon as you can.

Quadrant 3: Consider Delegating tasks that are urgent but not important.

Quadrant 4: Let matters that are neither important nor urgent Drop. Most will evaporate.

We’ve all been there: putting out every fire that crops up while we neglect crucial long-term goals. But all seemingly urgent items are not equal! Learn to discriminate, and learn to say “No!”

Saying “no” to non-essential tasks and requests can help you stay focused on your priorities and manage your time more effectively.

“Being busy is a form of laziness — lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.”

—Tim Ferriss

By taking a step back and asking whether something’s not only urgent, but also important, we’re able to assess where our attention is most needed. So, when you’re juggling too many demands, ask yourself: is it urgent and important? Not urgent, but important?

... And never ask your team -- or yourself -- to stay up all night working on something that’s not important!

Another way Eisenhower set priorities was in terms of how consequential and reversible decisions are:

Consequential actions demand your attention:

Quadrant 1: Focus most on matters that are consequential and irreversible. This requires quality thinking. Consider a 30-minute walk unless it has to be done right now!

Quadrant 2: Reversible consequential decisions can trick you into thinking they’re urgent. But in reality, here’s an opportunity to experiment with different solutions, ***Practice a new approach and gather information.

Inconsequential problems give you a chance to delegate:

Quadrant 3: Delegate reversible, inconsequential issues to newer team members, evaluate how they are doing, and teach them how to improve.

Quadrant 4: Delegate inconsequential but irreversible tasks to more seasoned members of your team. Here, too, you can mentor them through the process.

It’s important to delegate tasks. This will not only help you manage your time better, but also empower your team and build their skills and confidence.

I leave you with these three time-management thoughts:

1. Adopt a strategy for optimizing your time.

2. Hold yourself to account for the best use of your time.

3. Remember: if you burn your time and yourself out, you are useless to everyone.

Effective time management is all about being intentional with your time and focusing on what really matters. Chose to be decisive. Commit to being resourceful with your time – take a step back and own it.

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