There is a lot of discussion about time management. Many of us think about time management in terms of what I need to get done today. However, it’s difficult to live a balanced day every day – where I get to invest a desired amount of time into all of my priorities. Some days, work takes it all. Other days, work gets shorted based on family needs. It gets easier to live in balance when the time frame lengthens.
For example, it is much easier to live a balanced week than a balanced day and a balanced month than a balanced week. You may have a three-day business trip and not see your family at all. That’s ok, you can make up for it this weekend by “being all there” with them and keeping your laptop in your bag.
One of my favorite tools for time management was developed by my mentor John C. Maxwell decades ago. He calls them the 3 R’s. When applied, they can help you set long-term time management goals and eventually make your time more controllable and satisfying.
First, ask yourself what is REQUIRED of you. What are the things that only you can do? Only you can make certain decisions at work, spend quality time with your spouse, invest personally into your children, etc. We must focus on these things before anything else.
When you’re confident you’re taking care of what’s required ask what will give you the greatest RETURN on your time. This is all about ROI. What are the things you do that seem to produce the most? This is about leaning into your natural talent and abilities. Although you’re able to excel here this still may not be what you are most passionate about.
Once you take care of the first two R’s you can focus on what gives you the greatest REWARD. What makes you smile? What makes you sing? What can you do for 10 hours straight and still have emotional energy at the end of the day for what matters the most to you?
It’s important to remember that the R’s must be taken in order. Too many people want to jump straight to what gives them the greatest reward. This can create compromise elsewhere. All of sudden, what gives us reward isn’t so rewarding – because when one aspect of life is off life is off. The interesting thing is it often takes us working through what is required of us and what gives us the greatest return to figure out what truly brings us reward.
If you follow these R’s over time and take time to evaluate and reflect along the way you will be able to shift your energy to those things you are most passionate about. It’s when we shortcut the process or take them out of order that life becomes less than what we desire.
What will you prioritize today, this week, this month, next year?