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How I’ve Been Zeroing In on What Matters Most Making Time
‘It’s a convenience-based culture,’ he continued, ‘People are time-starved and crave convenience in what they do. It knows no bounds.’”
help me get to my final goal. In this way, I can try to prune away the nonessential and time- wasting activities and really focus on the purpose for every action.
The other day, I was reading the Houston Chronicle, the major newspaper from the city in which I lived and worked for many years, when I came across a quote that really stuck
As spring, my favorite season, kicks up into full swing this month, I’ve not been doing so much spring-cleaning — at least not in the traditional sense. Instead, I’ve been working to declutter my life and my priorities. I’ve realized that, as I’ve gotten a little older, I’m finding that I don’t want to live my life constantly under the gun like I used to, that I want to carve out more time for what really matters. For me, that means getting back to the essentials. To that end, I’ve been revisiting the timeless directives from Stephen R. Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” Last month, I wrote about habits four, five, and six, and their potential to revive the spirit of compromise in America. But the first three habits have more to do with taking control of your own day-to-day priorities. Covey’s first habit is “Be proactive,” which is, of course, easy to understand but can be difficult to implement. It’s absolutely essential that if you ever find yourself somewhere other than where you want to be, you need to initiate a plan to take control. I always try to do my best to avoid letting circumstances dictate my course. That leads directly into the next habit, “Begin with the end in mind.” With every new task I begin, I try to examine how it will or will not
However, that doesn’t mean that everything should be all go-go-go, all business, all the time. That leads into the third point, “Put first things first.” At some point, a little late in my life probably, I realized that I couldn’t do everything at once. So, I began to closely examine the structure of my priorities for my business, my personal relationships, and for my individual development. The key, I’ve found, is to have your priorities established upfront, before a dilemma arises. That way, when it comes time to choose between two competing priorities, like an after-hours business networking event or a preplanned date night out with your wife, the choice is clear: The higher priority item wins. And if there is still a conflict, compromise helps! Firmly establishing your priorities doesn’t make a busy life easy, by any stretch, but it does tend to clarify things. God knows I’m still learning how to get everything I truly care about done, but as I regularly return to those three habits of Covey’s, I’ve found myself less “time-starved” than ever before.
in my head. In an interview, Scott McClelland, president of the H-E-B grocery store chain, was asked what he thought the “next big thing” would be for grocery store food. It may seem like an unlikely source for inspiration, but McClelland’s answer came with some profound implications. He said that, above all, “Anything that is convenient is what we’re going to continue to see.” He cited the difference between pregrated and block cheese in the supermarket, and the fact that people will pay steep premiums just to cut down on the amount of work they need to do for their food — precut watermelon, for example. “It’s a convenience-based culture,” he continued, “People are time-starved and crave convenience in what they do. It knows no bounds.” His answer got me thinking about the endless list of tools we have to make our lives easier, all the ways in which everything is constantly at our fingertips or at the click of a button. It truly is a convenience-based culture. But then, I thought, if this is true, why are we busier than ever? Why are we spread so thin between our responsibilities and our passions? Why are we in such a hurry all the time?
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