Struggling with spending your time on what's most important? Do you do things, but it feels like you're wasting time and distracting yourself from tackling the big activities you SHOULD be doing?

Maybe I'm the only one that struggles with this, but I doubt it.

I typically manage my time based on what I can mentally work on productively right now. If one work activity isn't flowing creatively or productively, I'll simply switch to another task. That's true even if it's not the next task on the priority list. The key is finding the activity that I can successfully work on right then.

This strategy works pretty well for me, until I find myself putting off important tasks (typically administrative activities with the business) that aren't the next most productive thing I can do. That's when I have to stop and create a block of focused time to work on the important things I dislike doing.

During a period like that recently, I drew the graph below. The objective was to analyze the gap between what I should be doing (x-axis) and what I really am doing (y-axis).

When I did that, the less critical activities that I work on because they are easy and productive jumped out (upper left). The lower right was filled with the financial, compliance, and administrative tasks that are important but seem like huge time drains. A few things did fall along the green line, which means I am spending the right amount of time on them. In these cases, I've been looking for strategies to handle these differently. That might be regularly assigned times or finding other people who can take them on and do them more productively than I can.

This might be a good activity to spend a few minutes on today.

Are you aligning your time management with what you SHOULD be doing? Or are you filling your time with activities that you PREFER to do, and wind up getting too much of your time and attention? – Mike Brown


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