I am working with 5 different groups of primary and secondary EIAs right now. I am also a secondary EIA. We all share a common problem. There just doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day to get everything done. Some would call this a time management issue. But for an EIA, it is a little different.
The Tyranny of the Urgent
I’ve heard this term used by different leaders throughout the years. And I have come to learn first hand how appropriate of a term it is.
There is a big difference between something that is important and urgent. Our days are always filled with important things to do. But how many of them are really urgent? How many things are really worthy of your time? You could argue that everything is worth your time, but if you were to analyze every minute pent in a day, could you really say that you invested your time wisely?
The tyranny of the urgent occurs when everything that is important feels urgent. The result is that everything falls onto what is known as a “critical path.” The critical path is like a train speeding along tracks next to a cliff. If one car gets knocked off, the whole train derails and falls into an abyss. For the EIA, that means when something does not go as planned, everything else gets impacted.
This is when the EIA feels overwhelmed, anxious, feels like they are missing out (FOMO) or everybody will stop liking them.
Realities of Time
There are some realities of time that you cannot escape. These are non-optional. They apply to everybody but especially to the EIA. And even more so if you want to be a leader.
First, time is finite and serves as a boundary.
You cannot multiply time, you can only invest it for maximum return on other time. For example, when I exercise for 30 minutes a day, I increase productivity by 2 hours as I am alert versus sluggish between 3:00 and 5:00 pm. I know this about myself. I can’t say I don’t have time for exercise because I do. And it pays off with more time. It’s the same with meditation, going to bed before midnight, writing a to-do list etc. Small investments of time in the most strategic way pay off.
Second, we are all wired for time differently.
Some people can just do what needs be done by the time it needs to be done. Others live in patterns and cycles. There is a specific time of day and year they are most productive. Finally, and this is how I work best, time is spontaneous. I have bursts of productivity and creative genius.
Remember time is a boundary. That means you can violate it. For example, if you are a morning person but commit to working evenings, you are violating your time. In the same way since I work best on spontaneous time, when I sit down and schedule the same hour every day to write, I fall flat. This works for others but it is frustrating for me. I write when I am inspired. I can either spend an hour a day for 6 months trying to write a book, or blow it out in a week when the time is right.
However you are wired for time, it does not mean you do not need to be disciplined in other methods. For example, I try and schedule the same start time every day by going to a coffee shop and meeting with my team. I also plan my days out to meet deadlines. But I always make room for those spontaneous times when I have a burst of inspiration. In fact I woke up at 6:40 am (way too early for me) to write this because it popped into my head and I had to take advantage of the pulse.
Do You Need a Reality Time Check?
To my fellow EIAs. We need to be realistic about where our time is being
spent invested.. Just because something feels urgent doesn’t mean it really is. Prioritize in terms of reality and not your opinions or feelings. Get off the critical path and start respecting how you are wired for time. Do not let the tyranny of the urgent rule you.
And if you are simply wasting time (Facebook, Netflix, video games, gossiping, etc.) let someone give you swift kick where you will notice it the most. Again, prioritize. Chances are you are already receiving this type of feedback from a spouse, friends, co-workers and anybody else who knows you, but you are in denial. Your intentions are not enough. Don’t look at your goals. Measure results. Goals are something you aspire to. You either achieve results or you don’t. You are either delivering results on your time or you are not. There I said it. (I am saying this to myself as much as to all the EIAs I love dearly.)
The understanding and reality of time is one of the first things that differentiates a leader.
As a rule of thumb, every EIA needs to learn to be alone and focus on their own character development. The EIA is often surrounded by so many social connections and opportunities, they lose reality of who they are. They are driven by relational affirmation versus true identity. This can cause even greater violations of time by spending it on people that are not worthy of such a precious resource.
Ok? (*Nodding and giving myself a high-five)