A few months ago, I had a problem with my time management. I took on more work than I can handle, having unnecessary meetings with people, and a few aimless projects I got involved in. There was little room for improvement. I only know how to keep myself busy but I do not actually know how to prioritise and keep my balance effectively between my personal and professional life.
This has motivated me to do more reading about time management. I found First Things First (author: Stephen Cover) worth reading. If you share a similar problem like mine, First Things First is for you. The book will teach you to prioritise things that are truly meaningful in your life.
The book pointed out that a happy life is not a matter of maximum efficiency; nevertheless, it is a matter of satisfaction from fulfilment and peace. It is helpful to think of our daily activities as a matrix with four quadrants.
Quadrant 1 contains activities, which are both urgent and important. Quadrant 2 & 3 includes activities which are urgent but not important and vice versa. Last but not least, Quadrant 4 lands the stress-free activities, which are neither urgent nor important.
The book also discussed the good and bad side of stress. A healthy amount of stress can increase focus and produce results within the moment to complete a task with a truly urgent deadline. However, people, who are most vulnerable to stress addiction including highly competitive people or those who are vulnerable to anxiety and depression, are less likely to benefit from it since they become overly stressed on a long-term basis.
In addition to time management and stress control, the book also recommends meditation as the practice of putting our brain back to the default mode after a long day of stress at work. There is a study, which suggested that meditation helps to deactivate the part of the brain that worries about the future and the past.
Stephen Cover is also the author of The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, in which First Things First elaborates on many of the concepts. The two books complement one another and should be considered companions.
First Things First is available at Amazon.com and Instaread.
Ed note: Som Panha is a free-lancer, 23, a graduate from Dept of Media & Communications, RUPP.