Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock

“Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
Fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way.
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way.”

– Pink Floyd, 1973.

Where does the time go? I’m still trying to wrap my head around this one. My oldest daughter, the apple of my eye, cutie pie side kick who went everywhere with me, is graduating from High School. We used to be attached at the hip; she rode in the stroller on my early morning runs, flew co-pilot while running errands, and often sat on my hip as I carried her around while teaching others to kick and punch. Now she’s busy wrapping up her senior year, applying to college, and hanging out with her friends.

The clock is ticking people, and whether we like it or not, it just keeps on going. When we’re young, we have a false sense of forever, of having all the time in the world, and it’s not until we get a bit more experience under our belts that we start to understand how little time we have. The older we get the more we realize how important it is to make the most of the time you’ve got.

Time Management 101

I’d love to tell you I’m a master at time management, but it would be a lie. I’m often scrambling to keep up with all the things daily life throws at me. I rejoice when I near a 80% success rate in completing the week’s to-do list.

I’d love to blame the plethora of mundane tasks I do daily like washing dishes, vacuuming, mopping, and scrubbing toilets. I could point to all the time spent on even more pressing matters like keeping the lawn mowed and hedges trimmed to the satisfaction of the god-forsaken HOA. Let’s not forget the hours of schlepping the girls to-and-from school and all of their extra-curriculers – like an Uber driver – but for free. Finally, I could top off the list of excuses with all the truly exciting events that come with raising three daughters: attending all of the plays, ballet performances, open houses, and track meets.

I could self diagnose myself as having attention deficit disorder, bouncing from thing to thing, ala David Spathaky, the world record holder in plate spinning, but this wouldn’t be true either. An honest, proactive evaluation leaves me with one undeniable, yet simple answer: I need to work on my self-discipline.

First Things First

I need to do a better job of staying in Quadrant II, by avoiding Quadrants III and IV. This will enable me to spend less time in Quadrant I, thereby being more efficient with the time that I have. See? It’s simple.

If you know exactly what that last paragraph was about, you’ve already learned about, or even read, Stephen R. Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In my opinion this is a must-read for anybody interested in being better. His time-management system of four quadrants is a great way to break down activities, and best organize one’s time.

Stephen Covey’s Time Management Matrix

Some of the time we spend in the first Quadrant is unavoidable. Important things come up which need our immediate attention. If we find ourselves constantly stuck in Quadrant I, however, there’s a good chance that we’re not spending enough time prepping and planning in advance. (Quadrant II) Proper planning and preparing should minimize the number of things we need to do last minute, freeing up time for the unforeseen emergencies that do arise.  

I am guilty of the simple pleasures that come from participating in quadrant four. This is where our whimsical wants of the moment drag us down, fill up our precious time, and keep us from accomplishing what is truly important. I love to read, and while it’s easy to justify it in the name of self improvement, the real issue is whether that reading is more important than the other things that I’ve made a priority. As Covey so succinctly states in his third habit, “Put first things, first.”

We need to quantify the importance of any given activity based on our priorities and goals. This is where that life plan, or roadmap becomes critical. It is important if it’s part of our plan. Otherwise it needs to be moved down the list of priorities.

I already know what I need to work on – I’ve read the book – and you should, too.

I hope to see you on the mat.

Pink Floyd. “Time.” Dark Side of The Moon, TRO Hampshire House Publishing Corp. 1973.

Covey, Stephen R. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Restoring the Character Ethic. Simon and Schuster, 1989.

Covey, Stephen R. “Habit 3: Put First Things First.” Franklin Covey.com, Franklin Covey Co., 2018, https://www.franklincovey.com/the-7-habits/habit-3.html.