Your time is your own. The 24 hours in your day belong to you – no one else. With your busy schedule and all the priorities competing for your time – including the priorities of others – it takes skill and practice to retain control of those 24 hours and keep them yours. You must be deliberate about protecting it from potential time-wasters who interrupt and demand your time.
Let’s discuss two of them:
Crises that are externally initiated, i.e., initiated by other people and situations and procrastination, which is internally initiated, i.e., by you. Of course, we’ll save procrastination for last!
Crisis is defined as “an unexpected interruption of major impact, above and beyond the normal day’s events, requiring immediate response. Makes you nervous just to read it, doesn’t it? The problem is not the definition. The problem is that we label events crises that are not crises at all, and then we throw our priorities up for grabs and run off to handle the supposed crises.
The supervisor who labels crisis the report due every Friday. Not a crisis. The tip-off? Every Friday is expected, so it’s not a crisis.
A salesperson late for a sales meeting because she stopped to handle someone else’s crisis. Not a crisis. It did not “require” her immediate response. She chose to help someone and shoved aside her own priority in the process.
All these people were duly stressed out, so they used the word crisis to describe the panic they felt. But before you take on something as a crisis and let it dictate your priorities, remember the title of this article. And remember these simple guidelines:
If it’s not your crisis, return it to its proper owner.
Determine the priority in your life of the event you label crisis. Do you respond or delegate?
Plan for crisis. You can’t if they’re really unexpected, but very few events are totally unexpected. You can plan to avoid them or anticipate them.
A crisis planned is an event managed.
Now for procrastination. The definition: To put off intentionally and habitually. Nothing negative or panic stricken in that one. It’s a positive word that’s gotten bad press. Even the prefix pro is positive. Professional, proactive, procreate, prolong, profess, and protrude all aggressive, positive words that are quite deliberate.
To put off intentionally means you meant to put it off, and habitually means you put it off more than once. Procrastination is not the word of a helpless victim; yet we use it to feel that way. We beat ourselves up for procrastinating. However, when we look at it truthfully, we must admit that the thing we procrastinate is usually something we don’t want to do. Two actions are possible:
Cross it off your list and stop thinking you should do it.
Or delegate it.
But what if it’s important to do it? What if it’s a priority? Break the task down into smaller, doable tasks and do these. Reward yourself after each one. For some of us, drawing a line through it is satisfying enough; others must promise themselves a coffee break. Be a proud procrastinator of the unimportant, unloved tasks. Put them off and stop beating yourself up about it. And stop reacting in a panic mode to events you mistakenly label crisis.
Remember: Your time is yours. When you become a master of your time, you become a master of your life.
About Mimi Mimi is a professional cheerleader who empowers and assists people in realizing their full human potential. A renowned speaker, trainer and author, she?s enlightened Fortune 500 companies for more than 20 years, energizing people on stress reduction, time management, leadership, communication. She co-authored Bless Your Stress: It Means You?re Still Alive! and Negotiating for Dummies. http://www.mimidonaldson.com 310.557.0229