Discipline in Management
In other words, if you are an effective manager of your self, your discipline comes from within; it is a function of your independent will. You are a disciple, a follower, of your own deep values and their source. And you have the will, the integrity, to subordinate your feelings, your impulses, your moods to those values.
A great essay on this is “The Common Denominator of Success,” written by E. M. Gray. He spent his life searching for the one denominator that all successful people share. He found it wasn’t hard work, good luck, or astute human relations, though those were all important. The one factor that seemed to transcend all the rest embodies the essence of Course 4 Putting First Things First.
“The successful person has the habit of doing the things failures don’t like to do,” he observed. “They don’t like doing them either necessarily. But their disliking is subordinated to the strength of their purpose.”
That subordination requires a purpose, a mission, a clear sense of direction and value, a burning “Yes!” inside that makes it possible to say “no” to other things. It also requires independent will, the power to do something when you don’t want to do it, to be a function of your values rather than a function of the impulse or desire of any given moment. It’s the power to act with integrity to your proactive first creation.
Four Generations of Time Management
In this lesson, we are dealing with many of the questions addressed in the field of life and time management. As a longtime student of this fascinating field, we are personally persuaded that the essence of the best thinking in the area of time management can be captured in a single phrase: Organize and execute around priorities. That phrase represents the evolution of three generations of time-management theory, and how to best do it is the focus of a wide variety of approaches and materials.
Personal management has evolved in a pattern similar to many other areas of human endeavor. Major developmental thrusts, or “waves” as Alvin Toffler calls them, follow each other in succession, each adding a vital new dimension. For example, in social development, the agricultural revolution was followed by the industrial revolution, which was followed by the informational revolution. Each succeeding wave created a surge of social and personal progress.
Likewise, in the area of time management, each generation builds on the one before it — each one moves us toward greater control of our lives. The first wave or generation could be characterized by notes and checklists, an effort to give some semblance of recognition and inclusiveness to the many demands placed on our time and energy.
The second generation could be characterized by calendars and appointment books. This wave reflects an attempt to look ahead, to schedule events and activities in the future.
The third generation reflects the current time-management field. It adds to those preceding generations the important idea of prioritization, clarifying values, and of comparing the relative worth of activities based on their relationship to those values. In addition, it focuses on setting goals — specific long-, intermediate-, and short-term targets toward which time and energy would be directed in harmony with values. It also includes the concept of daily planning, of making a specific plan to accomplish those goals and activities determined to be of greatest worth.
While the third generation has made a significant contribution, people have begun to realize that “efficient” scheduling and control of time are often counterproductive. The efficiency focus creates expectations that clash with the opportunities to develop rich relationships, to meet human needs, and to enjoy spontaneous moments on a daily basis.
As a result, many people have become turned off by time management programs and planners that make them feel too scheduled, too restricted, and they “throw the baby out with the bathwater,” reverting to first- or second-generation techniques to preserve relationships, to meet human needs, and to enjoy spontaneous moments on a daily basis.
But there is an emerging fourth generation that is different in kind. It recognizes that “time management” is really a misnomer — the challenge is not to manage time but to manage ourselves. Satisfaction is a function of expectation as well as realization. And expectation (and satisfaction) lie in our Circle of Influence.
Rather than focusing on things and time, fourth-generation expectations focus on preserving and enhancing relationships and accomplishing results — in short, on maintaining the P/PC Balance.
Urgency And Importance – Quadrant 1
The two factors that define an activity are urgent and important. Urgent means it requires immediate attention. It’s “Now!” Urgent things act on us. A ringing phone is urgent. Most people can’t stand the thought of just allowing the phone to ring. You could spend hours preparing materials, you could get all dressed up and travel to a person’s office to discuss a particular issue, but if the phone were to ring while you were there, it would generally take precedence over your personal visit.