A.R.T. of Time Management

There is a bunch of book on time management. You’ve probably read a dozen of books or at least heard of this topic millions times before. Recent book I picked up is called “관계중심 시간경영 (Time Management – Relationship Matters.)” It is a Korean book published by Korea.com. It is written by Mr. Hwang Byung-koo, an engineer by training, civil activist, music producer, and now business consultant. Not only because Mr. Hwang is a close friend of our family, but also because this book is a by-product of his highly productive work style and diligent manners, I strongly recommended it.

One part of his book really grabbed my attention. Mr. Hwang gave his own interpretation on the priority decision matrix of Stephen Covey. Priority matrix was introduced in Covey’s famous book, the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. We all know this book. We all know this simple matrix on how to sort out things to manage your priority.

To refresh your memory, here is priority matrix.

Quadrant no 1.

Urgent and important

Quadrant no 2.

Not urgent, but important

Quadrant no 3.

Urgent, but not important

Quadrant no 4.

Not urgent and not important

So where shall we spend most of our time to manage our time better and live a better life? That’s right. “Quadrant no 2 – things that are not urgent, but important” is it. What might be a good day-to-day example of things that might fall under this quadrant no 2? Weight training, diet, vocation training, language learning, business planning, or good friendship, you name it. These are important things, but they can be easily abandoned because there are usually no set deadlines. However if you keep doing things that are not urgent, but very important, you will eventually have fewer urgent matters because you already dealt with them before they become urgent. So, allocating 20% of your time or doing important stuffs first thing in the morning, or blocking time for the things that are not urgent, but important when you are at your best. It will be surprising how much time you can save and how much you can achieve more.

What about stuffs on other quadrants then? For quadrant no 1: urgent and important, just do it right away if you think you can get it done in 5-10 minutes. I already explained quadrant no 2 above, so I will pass it. What about quadrant no 3: urgent, but not important? In fact, our lives are full of urgent but not important stuffs. So, what shall we do? Delegate it or procrastinate for tomorrow. You will see there is much fake urgency in our lives. You wake up next morning, they may still look urgent, but don’t be disguised. They are fakes. What about quadrant no 4: not urgent and not important? Oh, well, why do you even bother? Throw it away! They are total time wasters.

Mr. Hwang’s drive for time management is not about project or task completion. A.R.T. describes his main point as it is written on the subtitle of his book. “A” stands for availability. “R” stands for responsibility, and “T” stands for trust. His goal for time management is building solid relationship. If you’re dragged by so many undone priorities or urgency, you cannot find enough time for your family, friends, and more importantly for yourself. You may feel like you are getting things done under the direction of your boss or smart phone to-do list. You may also find deadline is quite helpful to stay focused. However, you are most likely living in deadline misery, not deadline magic. If you are a mile away of your “real life” purpose, what’s good with that?

Relationship really matters and it takes time to cultivate good relationship. If you want to find more quality time, please, don’t forget “doing things not urgent, but important” first. Then, your life can be more meaningful. Your life will be more prosperous with people surrounding you. Time you spend for solid relationship will make you happier that money cannot easily buy.


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