Gifted Hands

Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.” ~ Carl Sandburg

Those who know me know I don’t spend much time watching television. My wife, fully understanding this, only recommends a few things she thinks I will enjoy. She’s been after me lately to watch a movie she recorded call “Gifted Hands”. It is the story of Dr. Ben Dr. Ben CarsonCarson, who escaped the black inner city of Detroit to become a world renowned neurosurgeon and is now also a conservative leader who made headlines last year when he blasted President Obama’s Affordable Care Act at a speech the National Prayer Breakfast.

Friday night I did watch the movie and would highly recommend this very inspiring story. The main thing I took from the movie is about wasting time. Ben Carson was a below average student in his early years. In fact, he was at the bottom of his class. His single mother, who cleaned houses in Detroit, took a position for a very successful man. She noted in the man’s extraordinary library (yes, I was envious), the television was not visible because of all of the books stacked in front of it. She asked the home-owner if he had read all of those books. He replied, “Most of them.” Mrs. Carson went home that day, turned the television off and informed her sons Ben and Carl, they could only watch 2 television shows per week. The rest of their spare time would be spent reading books from the library. Thus, a below average student would begin a life journey down the path toward becoming an honor student and eventually the greatest neurosurgeon in history.

When the movie ended, I reflected back to a time several years ago when I had somewhat of a time management epiphany. I was curious as to just how much time I was wasting in my life. I picked up one of those little pocket sized spiral notepads and for one week, recorded my time. I don’t recall the exact data, but I do remember the results were eye-opening for me. Up to that point, I had never considered myself to be someone who wasted a lot of time, but the final tally showed my non-productive time far exceeded what I thought it would. That’s when I started to make drastic changes in my life.

I’m not going to launch into a dissertation on how to live your life – that’s none of my business – but I do want to talk about time management at work. I’m willing to wager, if you tracked your time each day, you’d probably find there is a lot more un-productive time in your workday than you may realize.

Perhaps the best modern day standard of time management is the late Stephen Covey’s 4 Quadrants of Time Management. All time and the events associated with time fall under different categories. They are either urgent or not urgent – important or not important.

Covey stresses that the majority of our focus should be on quadrant 2, issues that re important but not urgent. Quadrant 2 includes things like doing preventative maintenance, planning processes and procedures and personal improvement, i.e. reading, continuing education, etc. If we fail to focus on these things, for example if we don’t do preventative maintenance on our vehicles, they break down and create a crisis.

4 quadrants

Of course, there will be times when a crisis will occur and these demand our immediate attention. There will also be interruptions throughout our day with ringing phones, endless emails and customers coming in. These also fall under the urgent category and must be tended to. But we focus the majority of our attention to Quadrant 2 and avoid Quadrant 4 as much as possible, we will develop into a much more effective time management regimen.

A word of caution here – in today’s workplace filled with deadlines and often having too much on our plates, it’s easy to make the transition from time management to crisis management. I was painfully reminded of this recently when in my haste to “stay on top of things” I made an oversight which cost the company a considerable amount and greatly damaged my reputation for paying attention to detail. When we let time manage us instead of us managing our time, it’s easy to make this kind of mistake. Slow down, take care of business and avoid embarrassing and costly mistakes.

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About montyrainey

Public Speaker and District Manager. Mission: To empower and inspire others professionally, personally and spiritually to elevate their lives to a higher level.
This entry was posted in Choices, Growth, Time Management and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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