Education Week: Time management principles improve effectivity

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Kevin R. Miller explained three principles that can help people use their time more effectively in his Education Week presentation on Thursday. (Maddi Dayton)

Everyone has 10,080 minutes available to them in a week — what makes a difference is what each person chooses to do with those minutes.

In an Education Week class on Thursday, president and CEO of VisionBound International Kevin R. Miller spoke about three principles that will help people do more with their time.

The first principle was to “know where you are going.” Miller explained that it is better to live life with a compass instead of a clock. He said focusing on important goals or missions in life will help a person find a personal “true north.”

“Don’t get your true north from somebody else’s compass and allow other people to have a different true north because we’ve all got to experience things in this life,” Miller said.

Miller suggested that everyone create a personal mission statement, in order to help them focus on their life’s goals and moving in the proper direction to reach them.

The second principle Miller discussed was prioritizing and guarding time. He said it is important to “protect your minutes from someone else’s” by learning to say no sometimes.

“We have to use our agency to keep other people from robbing it,” Miller said. “I’ve been a church leader for some time now, and I realized that about 30 percent of the ward was doing about 70 percent of everything, and part of it was their fault because they always said, ‘Yes.'”

Miller talked about Stephen Covey’s time matrix, which can be used as a model for prioritizing tasks based on importance and urgency. He said in order to use time effectively, the most important things should be planned first.

He demonstrated this principle using a bucket, representing the amount of time in a week, big rocks, representing important roles or tasks to complete during the week, and little rocks, representing unimportant tasks that waste time.

When he filled the bucket with the little rocks first, the big rocks did not fit inside the bucket and he had to set some of them aside. When he filled the bucket with the big rocks first, some of the little rocks fit in the cracks between the big rocks, and some were left out.

“We plan the week this way, and then the little stuff either fits in or it doesn’t. You won’t even miss the (little rocks,)” Miller said. “This will give you more energy than it took from you.”

The third principle was to select and use some kind of planning system. He suggested that one of the best ways to plan is by identifying the most important thing that needs to be done each week in all important roles or areas of life and then focusing on completing those tasks.

“I testify to you that in the weeks that I do this, my 10,080 minutes go a lot better, and I feel better because nothing is neglected,” Miller said.

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