This week I took a course on time management. The basics that have been taught forever are still true. You need to do what matters most first, and then let your schedule be filled in by all the rest. If you need some resources to improve your time management I suggest you check out Do What Matters Most – either the book or the training – or First Things First – either the book or the training. But what I was thinking about as I went through this course was all of the ways that I’ve failed in applying these techniques in the past.
I read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People probably 35 years ago, and it blew my mind. I’ve reread it several times since, and I’ve taught the seven habits in many workshops. Habit 2 – begin with the end in mind, and Habit 3 – put first things first, form the core of time management. The challenge to the 7 Habits is that second word, habits. For these techniques to really work you need the discipline to practice them every day – to make them habits. And when you do that, you will be unstoppable.
But what gets in the way? Lots of things. Life throws you curveballs. Plans change. But more than anything else, the think that gets in the way, at least for me, is – me. I procrastinate. As my father used to say, “why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?” In many ways I am my father’s son.
But there is a bigger question. Why do we procrastinate? Usually, it’s because we don’t want to do something. If I set a plate of cookies in front of you, who’s going to say, “I’ll save mine for tomorrow?” You like to eat cookies, and if they are right there, you do. There is no procrastinating. But, what if you are supposed to be contacting strangers to schedule networking meetings? Or filling out a job application for a job you’re not sure you really want? That’s when procrastination kicks in.
When you are looking for a job, and for the rest of your life, you need to learn to do what matters most. Find the tools, techniques, discipline you need to make those calls, fill out those applications, send those thank you notes, and do your research. Very few of us can find our next, best job just by sitting around and eating cookies. We need to stop procrastinating, and get it done. If you need some tips on how to make the most of your search, this might help https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/.