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.

Cutting the white cable

Sometimes you have to take time to make time.

Sometimes you just have to cut the white cable.

What am I talking about?

Running a business, managing your department and making changes in general are all hard things to do while trying to keep things running smoothly, maintaining morale and ensuring success. You can do like most and plan it out, take your time and do all that you can to minimize distractions and interruptions, or you can “cut the white cable” as I like to say. The phrase comes from a task a few years ago of relocating our network room from one part of the company to another after 5 or 6 years of growth and adjustments and hundreds of cable runs. With only a few live cables holding up the completion of the task, I was left with two choices. Tone out and trace each cable in the building until I found it, taking anywhere from a few minutes to a few days, or cut the cable and see who screams the loudest. Rather than waste the time searching, the white cable was cut and we finished the relocation. Sure enough, about an hour later someone reported a lack of connectivity and we were able to quickly locate the source and connect them up with the new network room. Hours saved, no harm done.

Here is another example, many are likely familiar with.

Every day I hear from a certain someone that their computer is so slow, everything takes forever and sometimes it freezes up completely. Being a decent computer, just cluttered with stuff and programs installed over time, it needs nothing more than a good cleaning and perhaps a fresh install of the latest operating system. Most likely this fix would take a couple of hours, little more. When this solution is presented, all I ever hear is that “I don’t have time to do that”. Not to be a jerk, despite that being the perception when responding, but it is a simple bit of math to determine that taking a little time will generate a significant amount of surplus time. Each day I hear of 10-20 minutes of waiting, downtime and mounting frustration throughout the day. Considering this has been the case, complaint, response and result for a year or so, you do the math (I’ll do it too). Fifteen minutes per day, 5 days per week, 52 weeks per year. Sixty five (65) hours wasted waiting, daily frustrations and probably sixty five hours of additional complaining about the issue OR take a few hours and fix the problem.

There are a lot of situations where taking time makes time, plenty to discuss in later posts. One to think about a lot though is staffing and resource allocation. If you’ve ever said or heard “I don’t have time to hire and train someone to do that”, do the math for yourself or the speaker to figure out how much time would be saved if a little time was taken to train and delegate.