Like most people, I lead an active life. I am committed to my family. I am very active in our church. I have a challenging career. I run a recording studio. I keep myself highly proficient in music and golf. I am an avid reader. I maintain a blog. And so on.
A question that I am often asked is: “How do you find time to do all this?”
Yes, I have read extensively in the area of time management. And I have learned a lot from all that reading. I have also been a keen observer of how successful people approach their lives. And I have learned a lot from my observations.
I have also learned that most people are so incredibly bad at managing their time that rock-bottom personal productivity is simply accepted as normal. Anyone who consistently invests their time each day in intelligent, productive activities is going to look like an overachiever by comparison.
The secret to effective time management is simple: clear goals and deliberate action.
My wife tells me that I am extremely focused and highly productive. And, in her view, I have some innate gift of productivity that enables me to accomplish many things in a short timeframe. In reality, I am ruthless in my focus. And that is because I focus my energy on deciding what is important and then I make time to do what is important.
Since 1990, the year that I first read Stephen Covey’s book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I have invested time over the Christmas season to reflect on what I intend to achieve over the course of the new year. I write my objectives for the new year and I group them under six categories:
- Personal Growth
I then define and work on specific goals for those objectives in ninety day segments. In ninety days, I can make dramatic and measurable changes. Absolute clarity gives me focus. Absolute clarity keeps me on track.
Without thought to the important objectives in my life, my day-to-day actions would be without context and without consequence. Random events in an unplanned existence. And that would mean a waste of time, a waste of potential, a waste of a human life.