I don't want to go to jail: Our actions and time management affect our intended goals

Published: Monday, Jan. 14 2013 3:20 p.m. MST

Nor can we ask the shadows to ever stay away.

Time flies on wings of lighting. We cannot call it back.

It comes then passes forward, along its onward track.

And if we are not mindful, the chance will fade away.

For life is quick in passing. 'Tis as a single day.

As we examine a typical 24-hour day, we spend a good portion of it sleeping, eating and traveling. We have about 12 hours each day to perform a list of given tasks or jobs. Our age, status and responsibilities determine to a large degree where we spend our time and energy. The youths of the world attend educational classes, engage in personal study, home chores or employment and enjoy some form of entertainment. Adults are at home with family duties or they are at work, engaged in caring for customers. Evenings are likewise busy with a host of activities and additional tasks.

All of us feel there is not enough time in a day to pursue the desires of our heart. I am just like you. My days are full, with a calendar of events that are never ending. I go to bed late at night wondering to myself if I am pursuing the right priorities. Am I spending my precious time on tasks that truly count?

As for our discussion, my wife and I concluded we were way out of balance. We also agreed it’s time we focused on each other, not on every request from the world around us. We started by agreeing that by 7:30 each night we would be together at home with no distractions, no phone calls, no emails and no meetings. A good plan, right? Of course it is. Sadly, we have not reached this important Utopian goal. Why not? It’s due in part to years of habit and a schedule that has not yet been cleared. Even so, we both consider this noble objective as noteworthy and recognize it will require dedication, discipline and a laser focus.

On my part, to remedy the situation, I have hired an experienced executive to manage my calendar. She is a gatekeeper with an assignment to prioritize my workload of meetings, speeches, books and newspaper columns. After just a few weeks of her effort, I am seeing great improvements. I have also delegated more effectively to other talented leaders the important tasks that I shouldn’t do.

I have seen immediate and positive results from this action. Are there other measures I should take? Yes, there are a few community programs that can survive without me, as well as a few board assignments I can forgo. As of last week, I have resigned from a longstanding bank advisory board position and chairmanship of a trade association. As I write this column I’m feeling lighter already. There will be more resignations to come. Learning to say “no” to assignments I don’t have sufficient time to complete without risking my very highest priorities is a new way of life for me. Practicing what I believe will be the challenge.

In summary, all of us must manage our time and energy wisely to achieve the things in our limited lifespans that matter the most. May we all do a better job in the coming year. I wish us all success in this effort, and as always, I welcome your opinions and thoughts.

Alan E. Hall is a co-founding managing director of Mercato Partners, a regionally focused growth capital investment firm. He founded Grow Utah Ventures, is the founder of MarketStar Corp. and is chairman of the Utah Technology Council.

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