3 ways to ensure that time is spent on your agenda and not that of others

\"ceoI recently took part in the CEO Sleep Out UK event at Old Trafford Cricket Ground in Manchester in order to raise money and awareness for homelessness. It was a great experience and I am so glad that I took part.  I learned more about homelessness, met some really interesting people and raised some money! It was really valuable and I am very appreciative of the opportunity that I grasped.  However, when I was asked, I said yes without really thinking about what I had agreed to or the implications. It just seemed like the right thing or a good thing to do.

Reflecting on that got me thinking – how often do we end up doing things because we have just ‘fallen’ into them? How much of your time is focused on doing stuff that is based on someone else’s agenda? My guess that most folks would say a fair amount?

Now in my case and in this example it ended up being a result – sometimes you need to be pushed in order to generate new experiences and if I had stopped to think, I may not have agreed and missed out on something really special. So there is no science to this – more of an art I would suggest! J

However, there are also many examples in which I have been asked to do something, I have said yes without really thinking or appreciating what was involved, and rued the day I agreed. This is especially true in a work context – being asked to join a particular meeting “because you may have an interesting perspective” Does anyone recognise those sort of traps?

Ok – so we were playing the good citizen, the supportive team member; taking accountability for helping and supporting your colleagues is really important in an effective team. BUT – and it is a big BUT – as often as not, it is not a conscious decision made with an awareness of the implications. The implications are sometimes positive (as I experienced with Sleep Out) but they mostly turn out with you not getting the things that you want to get done, getting frustrated, dissipating energy, depleting will power and generally feeling like you have been unproductive!

So how do we find a way of overcoming that and being more conscious about what we take on or not.

  1. Be clear about what YOUR priorities are – I have mentioned this a number of times in various blogs and \"priorities\"shared articles that cover the topic, but I still meet so many people, teams, functions and organisations that are not crystal clear about what their current priorities are. What are the 4 or 5 absolutely critical things that your time should be spent focussing on.  Without that clarity you cannot make conscious decisions and judgements about where to focus your precious attention. Attention is a scarce resource and what we focus it on gets done – so be clear what you want to get done!
  2. Be present – by that I mean in the moment, aware of what you are experiencing and participating in as it happens. How often is our mind pervaded by thoughts of what needs to happen or what is coming up – it is Sunday evening and our thoughts start to turn to Monday morning for example!  If we aren’t ‘present’ then we are not able to make a sensible decision about how we spend our time, we get side-tracked by the future and forget what we need to focus on right now!
  3. Be clear about the quid pro quo (if there is one) – I think it is only right and proper to be a generous and supportive team member, colleague or friend – but that works both ways! If we are cognisant of our priorities and are thinking in the moment, then we should be able (with discipline and practise) to make a swift judgement on implications and trade-offs.  For the Sleep Out there was no trade off – even if I had been more ‘present’ (and I am clear about my priorities) it was a decision taken with no thought and therefore a missed opportunity to think how I may benefit or what could help me with my priorities in return.  Time and attention is precious as we have observed, it needs to count for something so if you willingly donate your time and attention to something, (like the Sleep Out) then do so consciously.  But is it better to follow the maxim of Stephen Covey – Think Win Win!  How can we both benefit from this opportunity?

Ultimately time is a precious resource and we all need to be focussed on the things that matter for us, for our teams, functions or organisations……………… so finding ways of avoiding getting side-tracked from our agenda is critical!


2 responses to “3 ways to ensure that time is spent on your agenda and not that of others”

  1. Belonging to everyone avatar
    Belonging to everyone

    As a supportive team member, colleague, friend, mum, wife……………..I struggle with getting an agenda that is mine in the first place! Every piece of me can, at times, seem like it belongs to someone else. And whilst being complete subservient to the world can, at times, be very appealing – please tell me how I can get an agenda that is for ME (without feeling like it’s a completely and utterly selfish ask)!

    My resource is indeed precious, I need to make sure that it’s precious to me 

    1. Richard avatar

      Hiya – and thanks for the comments. The reality is it starts with being clear what your agenda actually is – what is it you want to do, to be? That needs to become super compelling in order to fight for your scarce attention and you need to break the loop by creating some initial time to plan how you can focus more of your energy on your agenda. Who do you need to engage, to get onside, to get help from? One small step at a time and progress not perfection!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *