Managing busyness – look back for inspiration

I have been recently extensively reading on the subject of time management and have come across two quotations, both in excess of 150 years old, which seem as timeless and relevant today as when they were first produced. I believe it was Winston Churchill who once said “to be able to look forward we must first look back”.
The first quote is from Robert E. Lee, a famous general in the Confederate army during the American Civil War. He was quoted as saying “I cannot trust a man to control others, who cannot control himself.”

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One of the key issues for me in time management is the high level of self-discipline, or self-control, that is required from leaders today in managing their time. With so many demands, and an expectation of a 24/7 existence, efficient and effective habits are going to be crucial for any leader who wishes to make a difference.
Moreover, those of us in positions of leadership, whether private or public, seem to be under an unparalleled level of scrutiny. Therefore control of ourselves is rapidly becoming an essential skill to be able to consistently demonstrate in the eyes of those we lead, or aspire to lead.
The second quote is aligned with something os a constant through the last 100 years of literature on the subject of time management – one which has not changed and is the need for leaders to find ‘time’.
With so many demands on our time nowadays I have a growing conviction that we would serve our organizations and communities (and families) far better as leaders if we were able to focus on less.
My second therefore is from Amiel, a Swiss philosopher, who said “Learn to limit yourself, to content yourself with some definite thing, and some definite work; dare to be what you are, and learn to resign with the good grace all that you are not and to believe in your own individuality.”
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But in choosing the route of less we need to be choosing subjects and areas of focus that are the most important and will make the most difference.
Amiel’s words were written 170 years ago in a world very different from ours today, but never have those words been more relevant in our modern age of never-ending busyness.

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