Read week


Within the CAR framework, we now come to the third aspect of A (Action). We have looked at defining Our Best Life, and we now move on to taking the actions to make that Best Life a reality.

We are talking today about Stephen Covey’s third habit – Put First Things First. This is really the topic of Time Management. How will we manage our time and our life to live our Best Life? It all boils down to making the most of each day and making each day count.

I like the story of the medieval traveller who, when chancing upon a worksite, enquired of three different workmen, “What are you doing?” To which the first answered, “I am laying bricks.” The second answered, “I am building a wall.” But the third answered, “ I am building a magnificent cathedral.” Interestingly they were all doing the same thing – laying bricks – but they attached different meanings to what they were doing.

Similarly, if we were approached by an interested observer today who asked you and me, “What are you doing?” what would we answer? We could say “I am just filling in time.” Or we could say, “I’m going to work, to school, to church, to a movie.” Or we could say, “I am living my Best Life.”

Over recent weeks I have on several occasions used the 4S’s as suggestions for Your Best Life – namely Survival, Stability, Success and Significance. Interestingly these four descriptions have relevance no matter what the time frame we may be considering – one day, one week, one year, 5 years, 20 years, 100 years. 

But it is what happens each day that I want to discuss with you right now. I am taking it as given that we want to minimise wasted and unproductive time and maximise our positive results through effective and productive effort.

So let us think about the types of time that we have each day – how we spend these types of time. The first type corresponds with the first S – Survival. If we are in the middle of a crisis (e.g. car accident, major domestic argument, being broke, major sickness, even pressing urgencies like phone calls, messages or Facebook posts) we may feel that we have to drop everything and attend to those matters. Even though this may feel exciting, this type of life is nothing more than seeking to survive. You are not in control of your life. Other people and circumstances are.

Better than this is the second S – Stability. Stability is created each day by performing those routine activities that give order and system to a day – sleeping, eating, cleaning, washing – all of those recurring activities that are needed to maintain our health and wellbeing. It is good to have routines that will help manage or minimise our crises too.

Success – the third S – is about growth and achievement. It is about setting goals and fulfilling them. It is more than Surviving a crisis, more than maintaining Stability through routines. It is about working on projects, one after another, systematically building towards achieving a greater goal.

Significance – the fourth S – is about caring for yourself and all of those things and people that are important to you. Significance may also be about helping, influencing or inspiring many other people – but sadly sometimes this may come at the expense of family or home life. To be Significant we also need to be Successful, have Stability and Survive.

To have all four S’s requires that each day you balance your activities between Projects (for Success), Routines (for Stability), Appointments (for Significance) and Emergencies (for Survival). Notice that those four time-types spell the word PRAE.                  

Points to Ponder

How much time do you spend each day on:

  • Projects?
  • Routines?
  • Appointments?
  • Emergencies?

Copyright © 2021 John Harris