Time Management Lessons from a 3 Year Old

Zak is my three-year old godson. He is the apple of my eye along with his sisters Carley and Brenna. I was watching him the other day as he was preparing to assume a self-proclaimed role of 'Master of the Universe' while playing a game with some of his friends. I marveled at how prepared he was and how his plan included alternatives if there were any 'problems' in the scheme of things. He was, in fact, more focused on achieving his goal than just about anyone I've ever seen.

Then it hit me?Zak was mentally organized. Maybe some of my teachings had rubbed off on him?but more than likely Zak was just being himself. Here's what an organized three-year old can teach us about improving our time management skills:

His goal was clear and he could see himself in the role he was about to create. He looked at some of the alternatives, decided what he wanted to do, who he wanted to be and began preparing himself. He was convinced that what he wanted was attainable and totally realistic and was clear that he was going to do something about it. Setting and envisioning goals is crucial for all of us.

He knew what was important. I didn't see Zak spend too much time with low pay-off activities. He was clear on what he needed to do first, before anything else, and then made sure it got done. He prioritized.

He had a plan. He moved forward with first things first, but if the plan didn't work he was fully prepared to temporarily shift activity until he got where he needed to be. He actually had a strategic plan and made decisions based on that plan.

He communicated. Yes, you can only imagine the excitement of children's voices, but is it any different than the frequency and types of interruptions and struggles in communication that you experience at work? He managed to keep everyone 'informed' and pointed in the right direction, even when some of the kids disagreed.

He took action. True, three year olds aren't always the most judicious group, but with his crown and scepter, right or wrong, he was moving forward to his goal. Sometimes what we do isn't popular, but it's important to getting the work done.

He delegated. Zak was more than happy to share with his friends what each should be doing and where they needed to be going. Trust me when I tell you that he let them know when they were 'off track'?but he also helped them with their assignments.

He reflected and adjusted. By the end of the game Zak did, in fact, become the 'Master of the Universe'. He was happy and satisfied that his plan had come together and almost immediately began thinking about what he needed to do the same and what he needed to do differently in the next 'universe'. No plan of action is ever complete unless you can reflect and assess on how to make it better in the future.

So if you would like to become master of your universe when it comes to time management, take a cue from this three-year old. You just never know what might happen.

Copyright 2004 Cynthia Kyriazis. All rights reserved.

Cynthia Kyriazis is a Professional Organizer, trainer, consultant, speaker, coach and author with over 20 years management experience in multi-unit corporations. She is President of Organize it, Inc., an organizational consulting firm serving Fortune 500 clients since 1995. Cynthia has worked with over 150 companies and hundreds of professionals to help improve performance in the areas of time, information, space and electronic file management.

Cynthia has appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Kansas City Star and the Legal Intelligencer. She currently serves as Secretary on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), member of the National Speakers Association (NSA), member of International Society for Performance Improvement ? Kansas City chapter (ISPI-KC) and consultant to the American Coaching Association.

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