Zak is my three-year old godson. He is the apple of my eye along with his sisters, Carley and Brenna. I was watching him the other day as he was preparing to assume a self-proclaimed role of ‘Master of the Universe’ while playing a game with some of his friends. I marveled at how prepared he was and how his plan included alternatives if there were any problems in the scheme of things. He was, in fact, more focused on achieving his goal than just about anyone I’d ever met.
Then it hit me…Zak was mentally organized. Maybe some of my teachings had rubbed off on him? After I snapped out of that delusion, I realized more than likely Zak was just being himself.
Here’s what an organized three-year old can teach us about improving our time management skills:
- His goal was clear and he could see himself in the role he was about to create. He looked at some of the alternatives, decided what he wanted to do, who he wanted to be and began preparing himself. He was convinced that what he wanted was attainable and totally realistic and was clear that he was going to do something about it. Seeing and setting goals is critical for all of us.
- He knew what was important. I didn’t see Zak spend too much time with low pay-off activities. He was clear on what he needed to do first, and then made sure it got done. He prioritized.
- He had a plan. He moved forward with first things first, but if the plan didn’t work he was fully prepare to temporarily shift the activity. He actually had a strategic plan and made decisions accordingly.
- He communicated. He managed to keep everyone informed and pointed in the right direction, even when some of the kids disagreed. Yes, you can only imagine the excitement of children’s voices – but is it any different than the frequency and types of interruptions and struggles in communication that you might be experiencing at work?
- He took action. Rather than just think about what he had to do…he did it. True, three year-olds aren’t always the most judicious group, but with his crown and scepter, right or wrong, he moved forward towards his goal. Sometimes he wasn’t popular, but his actions were important to getting the work done.
- He delegated. Zak was more than happy to share with his friends what each should be doing and where they needed to be going. Trust me when I tell you that he let them know when and where they were ‘off track’…but he was also more than happy to help them when they needed it.
- He reflected and adjusted. By the end of the game Zak did, in fact, become Master of the Universe. He was happy and satisfied that his plan had come together and almost immediately began thinking about how to improve his outcomes in the next ‘universe’. No plan of action is ever complete unless you can reflect on how to improve upon it in the future.
So take a cue. If you would like to become master of your universe and time management, take a cue from this three year-old. You just never know what might happen.
Cynthia Kyriazis is a productivity strategist, time management coach, and consultant. She guides leaders and star performers to make choices that create and sustain a productive mindset, and positively impact both personal growth and organizational profitability.