What Generation of Time Management Are You In?

Aaron Walker
Feb 6, 2021
Untitled design-Feb-06-2021-12-59-11-22-PM

How did the first month of 2021 treat you? Were you able to meet your goals, or were there some things left undone? If you were unable to get to everything, you’re going to love this blog!

We often struggle with getting everything done for one reason: we use the wrong “generation” of time management.


Since when did time management have generations? What does that even mean?


Stephen Covey introduced four generations of time management in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. When I first read it years ago, this idea on management helped to shift how I look at work, relationships and planning.


Think of a generation as a way of time management. The generation you use is determined by how you create, track and complete your objectives.


Our mastermind groups are reading this book, as we begin 2021. As you know, 2020 was no walk in the park. The number of people in isolation skyrocketed. Businesses and events got shut down. It was easy to panic and lose hope.


While I wouldn’t describe last year as “easy-peasy” for our members, I don’t believe it’s an accident that almost all of them grew and adapted to our new normal. Great habits and good company have a way of turning times like this from tragedy to triumph.


There’s no question, one habit that significantly improved our members’ lives was managing time well.  Let’s take a look at each generation of time management, so we can get a better sense of areas we might need to improve.


  • Generation 1 – In Generation 1, notes and checklists are how you keep track of things. It’s the simplest method: write it down, do it, cross it off. People in Generation 1 are usually scattered or stressed. They handle things as they come, often unaware of what causes them.
  • Generation 2 – In the 2nd Generation of Time Management, you use a calendar or appointment book. It’s a step up from Generation 1, and gives you the ability to see what’s around the corner. Getting to Generation 2 means progress, but there isn’t’ a lot of intention behind it. You still handle things as they come; you’re slightly more prepared.
  • Generation 3 – This is a big step forward. In Generation 3, you begin to prioritize. You clarify values, so you can compare activities’ relative worth. You decide what fills up your calendar. You’ll also start setting goals and planning each individual day in Generation 3.
  • Generation 4 – Now you focus on relationships and results, more than things and time. You still strategize, and plan each day. The main difference is that you’re deeply intentional about building relationships, and getting results. Many people reach this generation with the help of a mentor or coach.


Would you like to be able to think about time this way? You’re going to need some sharp, outside eyes on how you currently manage it. Visit our website and apply to join one of our mastermind groups online.


Why You Need To Graduate To The Next Generation


Take a good look at the table below. Notice the column and row headers. Tell me, where do you spend the majority of your time?


TASKURGENTNOT URGENTIMPORTANTCrises, problems, deadline-driven projectsPrevention, relationship building, recognizing new opportunities, planning recreationNOT IMPORTANTInterruptions, some phone calls / mail / meetings / reports, popular activitiesTrivia, busy-work, some mail / calls, time wasters, pleasant activities


Most people spend far too much time outside the “Important, Not Urgent” quadrant. Although that’s human nature ... it’s a big mistake! Effective leaders, including business coaches, spend as much time as they can doing activities in this quadrant, because they provide the biggest return on investment.


It’s difficult to make progress when you’re constantly crossing off to-dos and putting out fires. If you’re always in a reactive state, you leave no time to be proactive.


Acting on a new thought, idea or plan could multiply your power, influence or income. You’ll never have the chance to find out if you’re always in survival mode.


What would happen if you dedicated time to relationship building? At home, for example, you increase the chance of a healthy marriage. What about strategic planning? Who knows, you could create a brand-new line of services.


The “Important, Not Urgent” quadrant will take your life and business to the next level!


You can level up by spending time with others on the same journey. Visit our website and apply to join one of our mastermind groups online.


How To Improve Toward The Next Generation


Can you sense which generation of time management you’re in? Do you understand that changing your activities can drastically change your life?


It really can. It simply takes conscious effort. Below, you’ll find ways to alter your thinking and habits. This will empower you to rise through the generations of time management, leading to more achievement.


  • Start Small - Set aside just 10 minutes for “Important, Not Urgent” activities. Ease into building this muscle. Make one phone call to build a relationship, or write down an idea in your journal. It’ll feel uncomfortable to take your eye off other things … but it’s worth it.
  • Know Your “Why” – Any challenge is easier to overcome from a place of deep desire. I want you to think of things that burn deep inside of you. Come to the table with a vision for your future, and you’ll play a much better game!
  • Delegate, Automate, Eliminate – Some of the worst words you can think are, “I’ll do it myself.” It might be the only way to do things when you start out. But if you’re going to become more effective, you need to be able to clearly explain things to others and turn them loose.

    Management and oversight will still be necessary, but the goal is to maximize your time on things you’re uniquely qualified to do. Anything else can be left to a trusted team.
  • Enjoy some R&R - Lastly, don’t forget that recreational activities are also in the “Important, Not Urgent” quadrant. You can’t do all work and no play; there’s a reason they say it “makes Jack a dull boy.” R&R is key to becoming a better version of yourself.


It’s time to graduate to a new generation of time management, in the company of like-minded men and women on a similar journey. I invite you to visit our website and apply to join one of our mastermind groups online.

Begin Your Climb!

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