I believe there are 3 levels that measure how we value of our most important commodity – time. The level at which you use your time will determine the proficiency and height of productivity in your tasks and projects.
The three levels of using time
Mediocre - these people are great at wasting time, they are happy to wait in line to get a seat at a restaurant, stay on hold for many minutes on the phone, talk about problems and why they happened, look for distractions to fill their day and they love to talk about other people to keep busy.
Conventional - There is a war going on between what demands their attention now (the urgent) and what is truly important. The “vacuum” of activities absorbs their attention and they are unable to plan and then execute on their priorities (the important). Henry David Thoreau once said — ‘Most men lead lives of quiet desperation’.
World-class - individuals and teams who live here are driven by an obsession and a vision. They understand that whatever time they don’t prioritize with higher value activities, the lower value activities will fill.
The three crucial aspects to productivity
I believe world class time experts know how to implement 3 crucial aspects to their productivity that sets them a class above the rest:
1. Intention - They act on getting the right stuff done!
2. Attention - They develop a sniper like focus despite the whirlwind of distractions
3. Drive - They know the four key drivers that influence higher levels of productivity
As the model suggests, the level at which we implement the platforms of execution (intention, attention, drive) will determine what type of fruit we produce.
If we act at a mediocre level, there’s a lot of fluff and bubbles – what we can accomplish in 10 years, others playing at higher levels, will accomplish in one year.
If we act on the conventional level we will do well at time management but not time mastery; feeling the constant demands and pressures but never actually making the most out of our time and executing on the important. More often than not we feel like we are in quicksand – not progressing very far, with most of our time and energy being spent keeping us from going under (the urgencies and pressing demands)!
When we act on level of world-class we have effectively defined for ourselves what it means to be extraordinary. We are not busy finding time but rather creating time so that we are consistent in executing our higher value activities while managing the demands of our day, not living there. Super important point there!
1. Decide what level you want to play on…
2. Prioritize your 5-7 most important activities (not what is pressing and demanding your attention!)
3. Try the following skill sets when dealing with an overloaded ‘to-do’ list:
Delegate with elegance - the secret to delegating is communicating what you want in a way that gives others what they want. Not only this, but when is it practical to delegate activity and when should you just do it yourself? I believe this requires a ‘dance’ between our levels of desire and ability before we can answer this question personally.
Manage interruptions with a delicate balance between warmth and power - avoid being too closed with people and rigid with your time AND/OR too warm with people and uber flexible with your time – both have their problems!
Entertain old habits - Avoid managing ‘fires’ and extinguish repeated problems. Often the problem is we become so automated in our ways of doing things that we think embed old habits are still the best way of executing activities; manage the problem instead of treating the cause of the problem. This skill set has been gold for me; I have found countless ways to manage things and people causing the fire rather than simply the fire itself!