Put First Things First

Posted as a comment to traveller_blues… I should probably follow my own advice more often :)

Chapter 3 was called “Put First Things First”. It was mostly about time management, but the best and most portable advice there was “Don’t prioritize your schedule, instead schedule your priorities”.

The point being, if you take everything you did last week, and schedule it so that the same thing happens next week, but the order is a bit more sane, there is still no input into the system by which “Important but not time-critical” items can get in. If you prioritize your schedule, you get the illusion of control, but you are really arranging the same deck chairs repeatedly. If you instead make a list of things that you Must do, Should do, and Want to do, and plunk those onto the schedule first, you are *actually* more in control (not just apparently) *and* you get the feeling of being in command of your time rather than just being a secretary to everyone else who needs to make an appointment. (The results may be 95% the same but it feels different).

This chapter also talks about how to say “no” to people and things that are “apparently urgent but not important”. The key to saying “no” is that you are saying “yes” to something else – what you have decided is important to you. Of course that is a lot of work and requires one to be assertive which is often uncomfortable. It’s also a different “head space” to know that you’re responsible for your own time management instead of leaving it up to someone else (or a Lot of someones else) to decide how much “free” time you get. But, allowing other people to set the agenda is a decision in/of itself. If you find yourself saying “I *want* to have time for X, but I *have* to do Y instead” that is the same as saying “I choose to prioritize Y over X”

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