It’s a simple question but the answer can take years to develop. But that’s because it’s such a powerful question. I don’t think many of us ask it often enough, because it’s too difficult, too awkward, too challenging. Here it is:
Why am I here?
If you can figure out your purpose, you can cut out a whole load of activities that don’t fit that purpose. Once you’ve answered that question, you can list a whole load of priorities. I’ve personally decided that relationships are a number 1 priority for me. I have also decided that face-to-face contact is the most valuable way to develop relationships. So to go back to the coffee table with my colleagues, I’m afraid to say I failed. I was looking at emails on my phone that could have waited. That 15 minute opportunity to connect one-to-one with people I care for was lost. Pennies down the drain. But that’s normal. Craig Groeschel put it this way:
“In our culture, normal people are distracted, rarely fully present. We all have to fight getting pulled into the orbit of that constant gravity of busyness. Urgent tasks and priorities desperately cry out for our attention. Maybe it’s a chicken-or-egg situation, but I believe all that noise harms our well-being more than the legitimate stress of all the things we actually “have to do.” If you want to be different, you have to live differently. Weird people learn to silence distractions and remain fully in the moment.”
Do you know your purpose? More on establishing your purpose to follow (keep reading!)
Urgent or important? (Priority versus Payoff)
As I said before, once you know what you’re here for, you can filter out what really matters! Steven Covey, in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, talks about the interplay between things that are important and urgent. Some things might vie for your attention but have very little payoff. Likewise, some things might not really be on your radar but if you prioritised them anyway, there’d be a massive payoff.
Crisis at Christmas!
Four days before Christmas I was due to drive 280 miles north with my wife and 2 kids to spend Christmas with her family. I was studying the cracked screen on my phone, wondering about getting it fixed whilst my son was trying to explain to me a problem he was having with his games console. Then the phone rang. My mum who lives 1 mile away was urgently being taken into hospital in an ambulance.
I didn’t give the above diagram one moment’s thought but its principles came into play immediately.
Quadrant 1: Urgent and important: Mum going into hospital.
Quadrant 2: Not so urgent but still important: spending time with family over Christmas
Quadrant 3: Urgent but not important: my son’s issues with his games console. To him this seemed to be a matter of life and death. It was urgent to him but it did not have to be urgent to me.
Quadrant 4: Not urgent and not important: the cracked screen on my phone.
So with this in mind, think about the following four areas, asking, “Urgent, important, neither or both?” Then decide what action you need to take to revolutionise your schedule over 2015:
YOUR RELATIONSHIPS: Managing how much time you spend with people you care about; Managing your time at home.
YOUR PROFESSIONAL LIFE: Managing your time at work; Managing how much of your week you give to work.
YOUR PERSONAL LIFE: Managing how much time you have to yourself; How much time you spend on health and fitness.
YOUR SPIRITUAL LIFE: Managing how much time you spend alone with God.
NEXT TIME… 5 Pointers to managing the rest of 2015!