J.D. Meier's Blog

Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness

Carve Out Time for What’s Important

Carve Out Time for What’s Important

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This is one of the rules that has served me well, as a Program Manager at Microsoft:  Carve out time for what’s important.

You don’t have time, you make time. If you don’t make time for what’s important, it doesn’t happen. This is where The Rule of Three helps. Are you spending the right amount of time today on those three results you want to accomplish? The default pattern is to try and fit them in with all your existing routines. A more powerful approach is to make time for your three results today and optimize around that. This might mean disrupting other habits and routines you have, but this is a good thing. The more you get in the habit of making time for what’s important, the more you’ll get great results. If you’re not getting the results you want, you can start asking better questions. For example, are you investing enough time? Are you investing the right energy? Are you using the right approach? Or, maybe a different thing happens. Maybe you start accomplishing your results but don’t like what you get. You can step back and ask whether you’re choosing the right outcomes for The Rule of Three.

Here are some things to think about when you’re carving out your time:

  • How much time minimum should you spend today for each of your three outcomes?
  • How much time maximum should you spend today for each of your three outcomes?
  • Are you spending too much energy in below the line activities? (This is where you’re just treading water and making it through each day, but not actually getting ahead.)
  • Are you spending enough time in above the line activities? (This is where you feel you’re on top of your day and investing your time where you get the most impact.)
  • Are you investing time in the most important Hot Spots in your life: mind, body, emotions, career, financial, relationships, fun?

This is a tip from my book, Getting Results the Agile Way (now on a Kindle), a time management system for achievers.  You can test drive the system by taking the 30 Day Boot Camp for Getting Results, a free time management training course.