If you don’t know why you’re here, it will be difficult to determine if you are spending your time on the right things. Deciding which tasks are important for you requires knowledge of your mission. If you feel that the most important job in your life is raising your kids to be productive and honest members of society, this should influence what you spend your time doing. Saying that raising your children is your mission, but spending most of your free time watching TV doesn’t mesh. This is where it breaks down for most people. We say one thing, but our actions reflect a different reality.
Here is a quick exercise: List the top five most important things in your life. These are the things that you would sorely miss if they were gone.
Now, list the five tasks you spend most of your time doing each day. My top two are career and driving. What are the remaining three? Watching TV? Reading? Cleaning? Do your tasks align with the things you’ve listed as most important? If not, consider what this means to you.
Since we are all given exactly the same amount of time each day (and it’s never enough time to do everything we want to do!), I find the best solution is to multi-task in a meaningful way. Take one of your time-consuming top five tasks and turn it into something that will work as part of your important life success moments. For example, if you spend your time driving your kids to events (and what parent doesn’t?), use that time to build your relationship. Don’t assume the radio must be on when you are in the car with your kids. If you spend hours each week commuting to work, use that time to improve your knowledge within your career, or learn a new language. I’ve taken Physics classes, studied for college courses, and listened to dozens of InfoSec podcasts during my 9+ hours per week in the car.
Structure your time so that each day is spent on important activities (defined as those activities that contribute to your life’s mission). In our SANS Security Leadership class, we define important vs urgent in this way:
• Important tasks contribute to your legacy
• Urgent tasks are the things you must to do keep your job
Urgent tasks seem to get a portion of our time without effort, but the important tasks require planning and diligence. Plan time everyday to work on important tasks that contribute to your life’s mission.