Last week I was fortunate to be invited to speak to 25 boys involved in the Waitaki Boys High School Academy of Sports Performance, WASP as they affectionately call it.
I was asked to speak to the boys about time management, particularly managing the balance between study and sports commitments. As we know, it is easy for young men to choose the more favoured option over the option they should be doing sometimes!
This got me thinking, is it harsh to pigeonhole the boys with this concept. An actual fact, I work with many sound and successful adults who also struggle to manage their time effectively because of the same reason, the tendency to “prioritise” based on what they want to do rather than what they need to do, or should be doing.
There is more to overcoming this than I can write in a single blog, but Brian Tracy sums up the basic philosophy perfectly in his book “Eat that Frog”. What he says is that we should start each day by doing the most important, biggest, or less favoured task first (Eat the frog). Put another way, do the job we are most likely to procrastinate on, first.
This is the job that sees us drift on to more menial tasks because we know they won’t take as long, or they’re easier or more interesting, or heaven forbid, to checking the social media account!?! Next thing you know it’s 4pm, you’ve not done half of what you wanted to in the day, and you still have this job to do that you’ve been putting off.
Tracy says that if we start each day with the worst task on our list, once it’s done, we can carry on knowing we will not have to do anything as bad all day. This, believe it or not, is a good motivator for us!
Of course, there are things you need in place for this to work for a start, like a plan so you know which jobs are the most important, the biggest or your least favoured.
If the job is a big one, for example I’m putting a presentation together for a workshop on Work/Life Balance for the Otago Chamber of Commerce on March 19, I know if I do 1 hour a day on this for a month, by the time the 19th arrives I’ll have easily gathered my material, arranged it and practiced it ready to hit the workshop with confidence.
Furthermore, at only 1 hour per day I have left myself plenty of time to do lots of other things every day, so hopefully none of them have got on top of me either.
My other option is to put preparation off until the 16th when I’ll be under pressure to get something I hope will work in to a presentation I hope is worthy, then hit the 19th wondering how it’s all going to turn out; I would be a nervous wreck!
So often we don’t make ourselves plan and prioritise like this, or we don’t make ourselves stick to the plan. The same could be said for exercise, eating, spending time with our families and so on. Due to a lack of planning, prioritising and the discipline to stick to it, we find ourselves sacrificing the things we really would like to be doing instead.
As I said to the boys in the WASP group, I do sympathise with them, and us, because there are so many more things demanding our attention these days, which does make it harder to manage our time well.
All the more reason to plan, prioritise and be disciplined in “Eating that Frog” everyday ah!