Conservation Entrepreneurship/mission and time

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Time management[edit | edit source]

Covey's main point is that time management should be based on determining what is important. Thus it follows from Mission ("Begin with the end in mind"). He then provides a powerful tool, which is to evaluate each task or "to do" according to 2 criteria: urgency and importance. We tend to conflate these; what's pressing tends to be taken as important by default -- Covey's insight is to step back and separate these out. In principle, this will remind us to allocate time to the important things that are not urgent - quadrant II; and hopefully through planning, preparing, nurturing relationships, this will help us reduce the things that are urgent and important (crises).

Assignment[edit | edit source]

Mission and time management assignment – for March 18

Covey CD (7 Habits): Introduction and Habits 1-3

Readings: Drucker Chapters 1, 2, 13, 14, 15, 16 and Dees et al Chapter 2

Do the Funeral Exercise (Covey Habit 2): visualize your own funeral; four speakers (representing family, friends, work, church or community organization); think deeply about what you would like each of these speakers to say about you and your life.

Develop your Personal Mission Statement (Covey Habit 2).

Maintain a time log for 3 business days prior to Spring Break and bring to class. The easiest way to do this is to divide the day into 3 periods (waking to lunch, end of lunch through dinner, dinner until sleep), carry a notebook with you, and at the end of each period write down every activity you engaged in and the amount of time each one took. (Total should = total number of hours awake). At the end, sort the activities into categories, add the time spent in each category, and divide by the 3 days to get average time spent each day in each category. Typical categories: eating, preparing food, commuting, telephone, reading newspaper, surfing internet, watching TV, in class, reading assignments, email.

Experiences[edit | edit source]

We all have different approaches for dealing with time issues. Please share some of your experiences. I will start with 2.

I just got back from a 2 week trip. It basically took me until Thursday afternoon to get back on track - productive and focused on what's important. What happened to those first 4 days? In part, I had to trim some work time to take my son to tennis, take my son to the dentist, catching up on family interactions that suffer when I travel - certainly important, but a distraction from work. Also Mon and Tues I had a major project (review 40 applications for ACLI visiting fellowships, wean out half, and form a review committee that could focus on the priority half only) and had to prepare for Wednesday's class. By Wednesday I had a cold and after class all morning, needed to take a break, go home early (and deal with the dentist appointment at 4 pm). So Thursday I'm finally ready to get down to business, longer term, high priority projects -- but my office and desk are so disorganized that I can't work -- I spent most of Thursday just tying up loose ends, such as my travel expense report -- not the important stuff, but I needed to get some level of organization around me so that finally, by late Thursday afternoon, I could get down to some important things -- by now also urgent because I travel again at the end of next week. I'm not a heavy traveller now, which my family appreciates, but this rhythm is very reminiscent of life at WWF -- work intensely before each trip to get each project advanced enough to be "pushed on to someone else's desk", and leave town with a clean desk. Travel, get back, be groggy for a few days, then another intense push to be prepared for the next trip.

In the midst of all this, a classic "bomb" (urgent and important, a crisis) lands on my desk. UF financial department sends me a draft financial report, that was actually due almost 3 months ago, and it's in a format that is going to raise a bunch of red flags with the donor. I have a much more subtle way of presenting the budgeted vs. actual expenditures, but the accounting department, who are people I have no real relationship with, have a totally different system (that will make me look bad with the donor). Aaack! First thought is to run out the door screaming, second is to tell the finance people they are wrong. After many deep breaths, let's try to get more information. Also, let's remember -- the finance people are probably really overworked (imagine how many grants they have to manage, and I'm sure UF budget cuts have hit their staffing levels) and they have a set of accounting principles and standard procedures to follow. Seek first to understand.... (Habit 5). Story to be continued, but probably the most important thing, for me, is to not let anxiety over this follow me home, this is important but nobody's going to say at my funeral "he really did a good job with financial reports" -- remember that what's much more important (Habit 2) is the time I'm going to spend with my family this evening, going out to dinner with my wife, helping my son with math and a speech he has to give. For me, time management is mainly a tool for stress reduction -- if you know your priorities and have a plan, it will help keep that gnawing anxiety from that overdue report from eating away at you.

This exercise on time management and mission couldn't have come at a better time for me. Going into this semester I knew that I had two long term projects that had to be done by May. The first major project that I had to plan for was my thesis proposal. The second major project was a final three year summary report for US Fish & Wildlife. I knew that both of these duties would require a substantial amount of my time. In an attempt to allow more free time for both of these important non-classwork projects, I took a lighter course load than the Fall semester (which constantly bordered on too much important work to handle at one time). Throughout the first month or two of this semester I felt great- I was able to spend more time learning and enjoying my classes, and I was also getting a considerable amount of work done on my thesis proposal. However, I must admit that at this point in the semester the free time was starting to get to me. I was getting all of the work done for my classes, and I was making strides on my proposal, but I was also spending a decent amount of my time doing those random non-important events. I also was falling behind on the Fish & Wildlife report I was in charge of. Next thing I knew spring break was on the horizon, and the stress I was so familiar with in the Fall semester started to come back. Many of the things that had been important were quickly starting to become urgent due to my time restraints. At this point I knew that something had to change and I had to be more proactive in my time management. To do this I went back to doing something I did in college to help keep me organized; I putting a huge calender on the back of my apartment door so everyday I could see what I had planned for the day and week. Little by little I started to check off all of the little things that were beginning to pile up and add to my stress level- nothing too important, but still things that required my constant attention. Next thing I knew spring break had arrived and I was still loaded with work. Instead of going down to Belize with my advisor to do some field work (as was the original plan!) I headed south to Fort Lauderdale to meet with my coworkers to push through some sections of the final Fish & Wildlife report. As I quickly found out, doing work with a team of people goes much much smoother if you are there in person (its usually over the phone since I'm here and they are in S. FL). In one week of meetings with my coworkers we not only completed a number of section of our final report, but also worked out a deal to better divy-up the work load so that the one student of the group (me) wasn't having to stress as much. This, believe it or not, was well worth missing out on Belize this time around. Due to the positive results I was getting, since returning from spring break my time management has become even more structured. This organization and the increased communication with my team has substantially decreased my stress load, and might even make it so I can actually spend a Saturday doing something besides writing a report! Lynch 01:44, 24 March 2009 (UTC)

I also greatly enjoyed this time management assignment. There weren't really any major surprises with how I was spending my time, but it was a good thing to see. I am not sure the days we recorded were really indicative of my normal life since I defended my thesis during that time so it made me want to continue this in the future. The biggest problem is that even recording my time takes time so it would be nice to find a more efficient method for monitoring. I also do not feel I accurately captured free time internet usage such as checking Facebook which occured in little chunks while working on schoolwork, etc.
I think Drucker and Covey's points about time management were very insightful. I especially liked the comment about doing the items in quadrant two to reduce the amount in quadrant one. I suppose this is fairly common sense but for some reason it really hit me. I think most of my school career has been focused on the crisis items rather than working ahead. I am not sure if I will be able to change this before the end of the semester but hopefully with my Master's degree wrapping up I will get a fresh start in the fall. I also want to use my mission in life more often in defining where I should be allocating my time. Kifaro50 01:30, 25 March 2009 (UTC)