How successful managers bifurcate time for tasks that really matter

How successful managers bifurcate time for tasks that really matter

Somethings are urgent, some are important and some really matter!

These three aspects, which many a times are confused as being the same, are completely different. And this is what differentiates and decides your success with anything and everything that you plan in life. Personal or Professional. 

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What is important, what is urgent and what really is a priority?

Do first things first, and second things not at all – Peter Drucker

I was talking to someone today on my way to work when this topic came up. The concerned person mentioned to me, ‘It wasn’t my fault, I wasn’t aware of what was needed”.

And if, by chance it was really not your fault, then probably there was just a mismanagement in terms of understanding the above mentioned three aspects:  “Important: Urgent: Priority” 

How many times has it happened that have we felt, we have completed our priority lists but there is still so much remaining to do or that it still wasn’t a productive day?

As a manager (when I say manager, I mean anyone incharge of managing someone or something, which in my definition today encompasses everyone. If not someone else, I am guessing, we would as responsible adults be at least incharge of our own sets of responsibilities or tasks).

Unfortunately many a times managers aren’t able to resolve this completely mainly because of the quality or behavioural trait known as “Shadow”.

In psychology, there is a concept called as Shadow Behaviour. It is simply a negative and often automatic, unintentional and unconscious response to events, people and situations.

Research shows that most managers spend almost 40% (approximately) of their time  every day juggling around with these behaviours of their team members, therein creating an overall unproductive day for the team and or even the organization. 

You may act defensively, resist change, manipulate others or act aggressively. Or you may be impatient, overbearing, territorial, unresponsive or have a moody style.

The biggest issues that managers have shared as the most damaging factor because of such behavioural patterns emerging in and out of the system and the organization’s team members from time to time are that they have a strong tendency to damage relationships, increases friction within teams, clouds our judgement towards others and self, completely cuts of communication because of that momentary rage and anger.

Now there are both conscious and unconscious shadow behaviours and here are few traits that could help you identify the same in others and even in yourself: 

  • Do You constantly feel nervous or anxious for no core reason
  • Do you feel angry and annoyed for no obvious reason many a times
  • Do you feel like sulking or low about yourself and often see yourself blaming others for your own problems more than you would really want to accept
  • Do you feel you are constantly hiding your emotions or how you feel even from your near and dear ones or at your professional space of work. 

Here are few quick ways in which you can let go of the blame game and focus on what really matters and why that needs to be on the top of your list today: 

DO WHAT IS NEEDED as in DO WHAT SHOULD BE DONE and not just What Could be done!

1) Ask yourself before you start doing something because it needs to be done:
– Why am I doing this? Can I do something else at this very moment which cannot be done later as compared to the task I am undertaking right now?
– What I am about to do and what I have postponed doing, can I make a judgement call on behalf of someone else?
– Will my decision to do something than what was at this very moment assigned to me allow me to justify the real focus and priority or importance the task has over something else that was assigned?

2) Start small: Sometimes we are overburdened by the task at hand because of the magnitude it expects of us.
So, at such times, its easier to split the tasks on a weekly or daily or even an hourly basis to make it seem more plausible to accomplish.
For eg. instead of saying I will focus on losing 20 Kgs in 1 year, try, I will focus on losing 1 -2 kgs per month or 500 grams per week.
On similar lines, few years ago, I had decided to run 1,000 Kms during that year and by the end of that year, I realised I had only been able to run 350 kms. Because, every time I left home or thought of getting started to go out and run, I was bogged down by the idea of running 1,000 Kms in all. So, instead, the next year, I said to myself, I will run 80 kms per month or 20 kms per week or 2-3 kms per day and during that year and the year next to that one, I ran 1,200 kms and 2,000 kms during the immediate following year.

3) Decide, quantify and time yourself for certain activities:  Today, unfortunately, social networking platforms contribute immensely to our distractions.
We are bombarded with information and data about ourselves, our friends, peers and loved ones every second of the day, so much, that even living n the moment is now becoming difficult. 

  • So, the next time you login to a social networking site, time yourself and logout within that stipulated time no matter what.
  • Ensure you will pick phone calls only when they have been pre-scheduled and with a clear agenda or in case of emergencies. 
  • Don’t plan a meeting just because there needs to be one. Ask if this can be done on video calls or emails and if not, follow a clear agenda with a time schedule, accomplish the said goal and follow through every single time.
  • Reply to emails during your planned time during the day to do so and not all the time.
  • Spend lesser time on work travel and ensure it’s really essential. This will help save you unbelievable amount of time, resources, money and so much energy. 


4) Take charge: Sometimes, we end up asking stuff, permissions, approvals more due to a fear of ‘what if I take the decision and it goes wrong’, rather I will wait for their approval and in which case, even if something goes wrong, I can’t be blamed.’
Such attitude damages your inner confidence and your ability to take on leadership positions. You need to follow to be a leader, no doubt about it, but you also need to be able to follow through on your decisions and responsibilities to be a leader.  

Paraphrasing Drucker here,  “People who don’t take risks, make about two big mistakes a year and people who do take risks, generally make about two big mistakes a year~ Peter Drucker”.

At the end of the day, take ownership for your decisions, be clear on what you are trying to accomplish and always, stay far away from the blame game. Remember, real Leaders take onus!

Do share your thoughts with me on this. Would love to hear from all of you.

Have an amazing day ahead.

Be Well

Ananth V

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