The Use of the "Power of Independent Will" is the key in Habit 3, as I explained last week. In Habit 3 we are dealing with many of the questions addressed in the field of life and time management.
As a long time student of this fascinating field, I am certain that the essence of the best thinking in the area of time management can be captured in a single phrase: Organize and execute around priorities. That phrase represents the evolution of three generations of time management theory, and how to best do it is the focus on a wide variety of approaches and materials.
Personal management has evolved in a pattern similar to many other areas of human endeavor. Major developmental thrusts, or ‘waves’ as Alvin Toffler calls them, follow each other in succession, each adding a vital new dimension. For example, in social development, the agricultural revolution was followed by the industrial revolution, which was followed by the informational revolution. Each succeeding wave created a surge of social and personal progress.
Likewise, in the area of time management, each generation builds on the one before it - each one moves us toward greater control of our lives.
The first wave or generation could be characterized by notes and checklists, an effort to give some semblance of recognition and inclusiveness to the many demands placed on our time and energy. As it’s commonly known as ‘to do list’, some call it as the wish list or the laundry list…
The second Wave or generation could be characterized by calendars and appointment books. This wave reflects an attempt to look ahead, to schedule events and activities in the future.
The third wave or generation reflects the current time management field. It adds to those preceding generations the important idea of prioritization, of clarifying values, and of comparing the relative worth of activities based on their relationship to those values. In addition, it focuses on setting goals - specific long-, intermediate-, and short-term targets toward which time and energy would be directed in harmony with values. It also includes the concept of daily planning, of making a specific plan to accomplish those goals and activities determined to be of greatest worth.
While the third generation has made a significant contribution, people have begun to realize that "efficient" scheduling and control of time are often counterproductive. The efficiency focus creates expectations that clash with the opportunities to develop rich relationships, to meet human needs, and to enjoy spontaneous moments on a daily basis.
As a result, many people have become turned off by time management programmes and planners that make them feel too scheduled, too restricted, and they "throw the baby out with the bath water," reverting to first or second generation techniques to preserve relationships, spontaneity, and quality of life.
But now there is an emerging fourth wave or generation that is different in kind. It recognizes that "time management" is really only a myth - the challenge is not to manage time, but to manage ourselves. Satisfaction is a function of expectation as well as realization. And expectation (and satisfaction) lie in our Circle of Influence.
Rather than focusing on things and time, fourth generation expectations focus on preserving and enhancing relationships and on accomplishing results - in short, on maintaining the P/PC balance which means to maintain a balance in production and production capability.
In other words one must have the right priorities in order to prioritize ! which comes from the deep realization of Habit one and two.