Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Are you spending time on the things you care about?

A couple months ago I gave a short presentation to my co-workers on self-management. I chose the topic from a grouping of traits associated with "Level 5 Leadership," a concept articulated by Jim Collins in his book Good to Great

It was a bit challenging at first to try and wrap my head around the concept. There are countless strategies and habits I've developed to perform better, be more productive and optimize my health and well-being (I use this term in its broadest sense: physical, mental and spiritual). In my presentation I called this "managing your holistic self." Many of us don't really take the time to think about how we go about our day-to-day life. In a sense, we're often on autopilot. We eat a bowl of cereal for breakfast because, well, that's what we've always done. Habit loops are formed (this is another story, and the topic of a future posting). They generally persist if we don't consciously alter them.

But, I want to step back. For me, this concept of "self-management" has everything to do with time. If there is one constant to think about, it's that we'll always have 24 hours in a day. No more, no less. And this is where our management skills come in. If I only have a certain amount of time in a day, how do I want to be spending those hours? There are endless possibilities for how you can divide up the pie to spend more or less time on certain aspects of your life, whether sleeping, eating, working, your hobbies, relationships, exercising/training, and on and on. Everyday, can be thought of as a series of trade-offs.

The question then becomes how? How am I currently spending my time and how do I want to be spending my time? The answer to these questions lies in your priorities. What's important and am I allocating the time, energy, attention and passion to those things that I want to be.

Thanks to his interview on the Bulletproof Executive podcast a while back, I came across the leadership work of Stew Friedman from the University of Pennsylvania. He developed a program called Total Leadership, but I found one tool particularly valuable. It really gets to the crux of this question: "are you spending time on the things you care about?"

It's call the Four Way View. Here's how it works:

1. Think about your daily life in terms of four major buckets: work/career; home/family; community/society; and self. 

2. Allocate a percentage to each of these four buckets to total 100% based on their level of importance in your life. How important is work? How important is family? etc. The total for each category should add to 100. 

3. Now think about your daily life and how much you focus on each of these same four categories. Allocate the same 100% into the same four buckets.

4. Rank each of the four categories on a scale of 1-10 (1=not at all; 10=fully) in terms of your satisfaction with that aspect of your life.

5. Do the same thing in terms of how well you believe you are performing (1=poorly; 10=excellent) in that category.

And now it's time to repeat the question: Are you spending time on the things you care about?

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