I once saw a chart on how we spend the 24 hours of each day. Among the highlights: we spend 67 minutes eating and drinking; 101 minutes driving; and 12.5 hours per day on digital media. The management of minutes directly affects the production of a day.

Stephen R. Covey once said, “Happiness—in part, at least—is the fruit of the desire and ability to sacrifice what we want now for what we want eventually.” Immediacy is not a friend of efficiency.

Not every task is worthy of your time and effort. Some are “immediate” interruptions rather than longer term essentials. Some will weigh you down rather than propel you forward. How do you determine a task’s worthiness in relation to your time? There are three tests I use to measure the value of a task in relation to the amount of time it will take.

1. The first test is necessity. How important is this to my overall mission. In other words, how does this task directly relate to my vision, cause, or project?

2. The second test is appropriateness. Is this what I should be doing at the moment, or am I simply delaying the inevitable difficult task I should be tackling today. Does this task keep me on track, or does it mean a derailment?

3. The third is the test of efficiency. Does it make sense to do this task now, in the amount of time I have to give it—or am I going to have to work on it again tomorrow?

My personal priority list has three levels. Activities that fall into priority A are the ones I MUST do. Priority B items are activities I SHOULD do. And in the last priority are activities that might be NICE to do. I have found that the biggest barriers to good time management are what I call “time wasters.” These include things like personal social media, making or answering phone calls, opening junk mail, attending unnecessary meetings, and prolonged waiting.

An efficient leader should be able to discern who needs to be seen (and when), what issues need to be addressed (and in what order), and which projects need to be completed (sooner rather than later).

–Stan Toler