Significance within Time Management

Most people that have studied or been trained on time management are aware of the four quadrants broken out by whether the activity you are planning or working on is urgent, important, and combinations of both. Much has been written about time management for businesses, managers, teams, and business leaders.

I’m not focused on those topics per se, but more so about general decision making and an evaluation method to help focus and maximize one’s personal effectiveness and success.

Traditional Time Management Quadrants +

Above is some of my stellar hand-writing and skilled use of a ruler. Using those two items, I broke out the four main sections:

  • Top Left: Urgent, yet Not Important
    • Your bacon is burning in the kitchen. This needs to be fixed immediately, but it isn’t part of your plans.
  • Bottom Left: Not Urgent and Not Important
    • The quadrant of sloth. Most things on television, including 95% of the non-stop news, fall in this area of life.
  • Bottom Right: Not Urgent, yet Important
    • It’s important to schedule a time to exercise, but it’s not so urgent that you need to work out right now.
  • Top Right: Both Urgent and Important
    • This is where you should try to be, as often as possible
    • This is the ONLY place where you can take that leap into Significance

When you find yourself in the top quadrant, planning or working on something that is both Important and Significant, this is the place to evaluate the task’s Significance.

When questioning a task’s significance, as yourself this question. Of the tasks in need of attention, which is going to have the most impact and will remain of importance in the future? For my use, I have broken this into four additional quadrants within the top right corner. Hopefully, the majority of your time is spent in these quadrants.

Equally significant quadrants

Above? More great hand-writing as I break out the quadrants of significance. All of these are of equal importance until you apply your unique situation and the needs of your current activities. I’ll spell them out as I use them, feel free to modify for your use.

  • Top Left: Another significance is pending the completion of your tasks. Particularly necessary in team projects, yet equally important at home.
  • Bottom Left: Personal Affirmation and Continuous Education. Learning new skills and building up confidence in using these skills will make you forevermore effective and successful.
  • Bottom Right: Long term efficiency gains. Once completed, my work and/or the work of my colleagues will be faster, easier, or less time-consuming.
  • Top Right: Longterm income gains. Simply putting your savings to work earning interest is an easy example. Signing up subscribers to a recurring service is another example (think your regular Nexflix payment).

We all have the stuff to do, and as often as possible I like to find myself in the top right, asking how significant is the activity I am about to work on? Is this truly the best use of my time?

Hopefully, by simply taking the time to contemplate what I’ve written, this concept will provide benefit to you in your personal and your business plans for the future.

That is the significance to me; Writing these thoughts has trumped all else because the more people that question the significance of an action, the more success we will all benefit from.

You can watch the news for an hour a day and keep your anxiety levels at their peak, or you can read a book and practice skills for the same amount of time. Improving your skills and learning new ones for one hour every day is equivalent to working non-stop for 2.17 weeks (15.2 days), 24 hours each day.

Leadership Lessons from Geese

Today my father shared a document with me, following up on a conversation we had about my Uncle’s retirement party. In turn, I’m sharing it with you. My uncle Blair was one of the presidents of Davey Tree overseeing much of their Canadian business. He got to his position by working hard and working smart, not by inheritance, luck or circumstance. Considering where he started and where he ended up, using the two free tools he had (work ethic and common sense), his retirement was appropriately celebrated by many. During the various speeches, the CEO of Davey Tree took his turn and handed over a framed document that Blair had given to him more than twenty years prior. In doing to, it was clear that the document had a significant impact on the CEO and like the giver himself, it was inspirational. After the celebration, my uncle reminded my father that he (my dad) had actually given the document to Blaire more than 20 years ago as well. These two men, my father and uncle, are two of the most inspirational people I’ve had in my life and my parents are those that I have to thank for my own work ethic, drive and common sense. The facts and lessons below are simple and powerful. Enjoy.

Leadership Lessons from Geese

Author: By Robert McNeish, former Assoc. Superintendent of Baltimore Public Schools, 1972

Fact 1: As each goose flaps its wings it creates an “uplift” for the birds that follow. By flying in a “V” formation, the whole flock adds 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone.
Lesson: People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.

Fact 2: When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it.
Lesson: If we have as much sense as a goose we stay in formation with those headed where we want to go. We are willing to accept their help and give our help to others.

Fact 3: When the lead goose tires, it rotates back into the formation and another goose flies to the point position.
Lesson: It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks and sharing leadership. As with geese, people are interdependent on each other’s skills, capabilities and unique arrangements of gifts, talents or resources.

Fact 4: The geese flying in formation honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.
Lesson: We need to make sure honking is encouraging. In groups where there is encouragement the production is much greater. The power of encouragement (to stand by one’s heart or core values and encourage the heart and core of others) is the quality of honking we seek.

Fact 5: When a goose gets sick, wounded, or shot down, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay with it until it dies or is able to fly again. Then, they launch out with another formation or catch up with the flock.
Lesson: If we have as much sense as geese, we will stand by each other in difficult times as well as when we are strong.