It is very easy to become overwhelmed. Many tools, techniques, and philosophies exist to manage yourself, your time, your energy. “First Things First” and “Connections” are two great books on the topic, as is the “Big Rocks First” philosophy.
A simple concept that I’ve found helpful in managing my time and energy is that of “Five Times Three.”
When everything is a priority, nothing is a priority. It is challenging to give full-out energy to everything. Yet some things need time to percolate. Time lags exist in getting other people on board or in getting needed information or reports completed to be able to move to the next stage. So if you only work on your TOP priority items, when you are finished and ready to move to the next, often it is not ready for you to devote full energies. So sometimes you are left churning water, not being as productive as you could have been.
Hence “Five Times Three.”
1st Five: These are the 5 (or whatever number you can handle) projects that I’m busting on, the ones close to fruition.
2nd Five: These 5 are next in line, almost ready, coming together rapidly, going to be promoted as soon as an opening occurs in the top 5 or a supporting element arrives.
3rd Five: These 5 are on the back burner. I’m waiting for stuff, they are in process but a way from being ready for anything but nudging along.
Not all projects make it all the way up the line. Sometimes they drop out as priorities change or they resolve themselves. Sometimes other items jump them in line. “Five Times Three” is an easy concept but an extremely powerful one to help you organize. You can have a “Five Times Three” list for each major role in your life, such as one for work/career, one for home/family, one for recreation/friends.
“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.”
— William Penn (1644-1718), founder of the colony of Pennsylvania, an early champion of democracy and religious freedom, famous for his treaties and good relations with the Lenape Indians.
“The common man is not concerned about the passage of time, the man of talent is driven by it.”
— Arthur Schopenhauer, (1788-1860), philosopher, pessimist; follower of Kant’s Idealist school.
“To do two things at once is to do neither.”
— Publilius Syrus, 1st century B.C. Assyrian writer of maxims, brought as a slave to Italy, later freed. (Source: Wikipedia)