Being Intentional about important but not urgent elements of one’s life

March 28, 2013 (San Diego)From my viewpoint as a time management consultant I have seen a growing trend towards “cloud calendaring.” There is nothing on the calendar except that absolutely fixed “in cement” items like a weekly required business meeting. All the rest of the calendar is wide open so that the person can be responsive the cloud of demands that come their way on a daily basis.

How are decisions made: personal priorities and proximity of the demand to the designated time. A business colleague has a monthly discretionary meeting. As the meeting time draws near the frequency of reminder email increases exponentially. It is very clear that the organizer is not expecting anyone to put the item on their calendar which would preclude the need for constant messaging and the event coordinator believes they are competing with 3 or 4 other viable alternatives.

Suppose though a person was intentional about what he/she was doing with their time and life? In the case of one meeting that puts out incessant reminders all that would be guy oneneeded is to make an entry in “Outlook” and mark it as reoccurring monthly: one email for an entire year.

Being totally flexible and thus not intentional about a single meeting is a miniscule issue. However when I teach time management and I look at people’s “Outlook” the entire month and the ensuing months only have a few entries.

This absence of calendar entries is often accompanied by comments about “no time” to do this or that. Of course what they mean is when they think about one of these “no time to” items there is no white space in their life to do it. Their life is full of the urgent “fire fighting” items.

How does one create time for the important but not urgent elements in one’s life when constantly surrounded 7 X 24 with firefighting? Things like the son’s soccer match or the daughter’s birthday party or time away with the one’s spouse.

  1. Be intentional about getting to these events. I am going to do it.
  2. Put it on the calendar. The time is occupied. It is not available.quill
  3. Be ready to say “no” or “let’s do it at another time” or “I am booked then” but I am open at…
  4. If it is a large time commitment that can be broken down into pieces then attend to it for ½ hour twice a week, or something like that. I do this very practice when I am working on several book research projects. Assign myself 30 minutes of time twice a week or what is necessary to meet my own deadline and away I go.

When I first started doing this for myself I found I was a bit clumsy in the conversation about saying “no.” I was not particularly elegant about saying it and sometimes I just could not get the words out of my mouth. Practice, practice, practice and sure enough I have become better at getting the important but not urgent items moving forward in my life.

An outcome of this process for me is

  1.  the important things in my life are being advanced.
  2. I am a person of integrity: when I say I will do something I am thereStronger
  3. I “forget” very few things because everything that there is to do is reliably on the calendar
  4. I am much more decisive

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