Yesterday, I mentioned my penchant for time-management books. It's a vital topic to address because it bleeds into every area of life. Let me mention a few specifics. Some people are always running late. Yes, always. Punctuality is simply a time-management matter. Some folks feverishly work right up to the deadline on every assignment or project they undertake. The job usually gets done . . . but the hassle, anxiety, and last-minute panic steal the fun out of the whole thing. Starting early and pacing oneself are time-management techniques. And some people seem forever in a hurry, pushing and driving, occasionally running here and there. Again, another evidence of poor planning. Time management allows room for ease and humor, much-needed oil to soothe the friction created by motion.
Which brings us back to the counsel we studied yesterday in Ephesians 5. Living purposefully, worthily, accurately . . . being sensible, intelligent, and wise in the rationing of our time.
In a book I was reading, The Time Trap (I told you I was a sucker for such volumes), I came upon a list of the most popular time wasters. They helped pinpoint some specific areas of frustration I must continually watch.
attempting too much at once
unrealistic time estimates
lack of specific priorities
failure to listen well
doing it myself—failure to delegate
unable to say no
perfectionism—focusing on needless details
lack of organization
failure to write it down
reluctance to get started
absence of self-appointed deadlines
not doing first things first
Who hasn't heard the true story of Charles Schwab and Ivy Lee? Schwab was president of Bethlehem Steel. Lee, a consultant, was given the usual challenge: "Show me a way to get more things done with my time." Schwab agreed to pay him "anything within reason" if Lee's suggestion worked. Lee later handed the executive a sheet of paper with the plan:
Write down the most important tasks you have to do tomorrow. Number them in order of importance. When you arrive in the morning begin at once on No. 1 and stay on it until it is completed. Recheck your priorities, then begin with No. 2 . . . then No. 3. Make this a habit every working day. Pass it on to those under you. Try it as long as you like, then send me your check for what you think it's worth.
That one idea turned Bethlehem Steel Corporation into the biggest independent steel producer in the world within five years.
How much did Schwab pay his consultant? Several weeks after receiving the note, he sent Lee a check for $25,000, admitting it was the most profitable lesson he had ever learned.
Try it for yourself. If it works, great. But don't send me any money for the idea. I'd just blow it on another time-management book . . . which I don't have time to read.