The Obama Model of Time Management – How to Achieve Balance Through Value-Based Priorities

Some people seem to breeze through life knowing exactly what they are doing at any given period of time. As busy as they are and even when a crisis hits, they keep their cool, focusing on the big picture and not getting distracted by minutiae. What is their secret? They live by setting values-based priorities.

To me, the model of this behavior is President Obama. He seems to know exactly what it is that he wants to accomplish. Whether or not you agree with his policies, you have to admire the fact that he concentrated a lot of his time and energy on health care because he clearly feels passionately about the fact that all Americans should have insurance. I suspect that he places a high value on fairness and equality and thus decided to prioritize health care.

I see our president doing the same thing on a personal level. He goes to the gym every day and eats dinner with his family every night that he is in town. The rest of the day, he devotes himself to the challenges of his office. Again, family, self-care and balance appear to be very important to him and he organizes his time in accordance with his values.

That is the beauty of living your life in accordance with your values-based priorities: there is a sense that you are managing yourself so that time works for you. So let’s see how you can begin to start setting priorities so that you can do the things that are important to you and start flowing through your life.

The first step is to know your core values. Values are your personal code by which you live your life. They are the principles that you would leave a relationship over or stake your life on. Once you know your core values, you can begin to filter all your decisions through the lens of values so that you are doing the things that are most important to you.

Next, set your long-term goals so that they reflect your values. Goals are the things that you want to accomplish in any given period of time. The more your goals align with the principles that are vital to you as a person, the more motivated you will be to work towards those goals.

Third, set your priorities to reflect your long-term values-based goals. Priorities in essence are short-term goals: the things that you want to accomplish in the next month or two. How are you spending your time these days? How satisfied are you with the way you are spending your time? How much time are you spending on the things that are really important to you? How much time are you devoting to activities that are not in alignment with your long-term goals?

Once you have some answers to these questions, you have a choice because you can begin to bring in more of the important activities into your life. Too busy, you say? Maybe take a page from the book of President Obama and see how you can start saying yes to the things that will advance your long-term goals and core values and saying no to the rest.


(C) Astrid Baumgardner 2010




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Astrid Baumgardner, JD, PCC is a professional life coach and lawyer, Coordinator of Career Strategies and Lecturer at the Yale School of Music and the founder and President of Astrid Baumgardner Coaching + Training, which is dedicated to helping musicians, lawyers and creative professionals take charge of their lives and experience authentic success.  In addition to her work at YSM and her individual coaching practice, Astrid presents workshops at leading conservatories and law firms on topics including Career Planning, Goal-Setting, Time Management, Dynamic Communication, Conflict Management and  Personal Branding and Networking.  She is the author of numerous articles on the various aspects of how to achieve and live authentic success.