I have always been a huge fan of the author and businessman Dr. Stephen Covey and his famous self-development management book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. My first encounter with this book was almost two decades ago, when my dad bought me this book at Bangkok Airport, when I was just 16 years old! What I learnt from it had a major impact on my life and started me on my journey that has led me to become very organised and productive. Each of the habits mentioned in the book are incredibly powerful. However, often overlooked as a time management tool, Covey’s Circles of Concern and Influence, can be applied in a way that makes better use of your time, so you can become more focused and productive.
In this blog, I will explain what the Circles of Concern & Influence are and how you can identify what things are in your Circle of Concern & Circle of Influence. I will also explain why people who only concentrate on the things in their Circle of Influence are more productive and effective with their time.
In his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey distinguishes between our Circle of Concern (things we care about but can’t control) and our Circle of Influence (things we care about and can impact).
Your “Circle of Concern” will normally be very large as it includes all those concerns you have in the world, your work and in your life. It includes your health, your family, your finances, the country’s economy, political events, and everything else that you are concerned about. Everything you include inside the “Circle of Concern” is something that concerns and matters to you. However, when you look at those things within our Circle of Concern, you quickly realise that you have no control or influence over many of the things in it.
Your Circle of Influence is a smaller circle that sits inside your Circle of Concern. It contains all the things from your Circle of Concern that concern you and that you can do something about. After all, we have no control of the weather, but we can improve our health by exercising more, eating more green stuff and drinking less alcohol. This is why it is important to take time to identify the things in your Circle of Influence within your Circle of Concern.
So how do you identify what is in your Circle of Concern and what items should be located in your Circle of Influence?
Make a list of all the things that you are concerned about. On a large sheet of paper, draw a big circle, this is your Circle of Concern.
Then, on the same sheet of paper draw a smaller circle inside the large Circle of Concern. This new circle is your Circle of Influence.
Take a look at the long list of things you are concerned about and write them down inside the circles on the big sheet of paper.
Put all those things you can do something about inside the small Circle of Influence and all those you can not do anything about inside the Circle of Concern.
Once you have completed this exercise, sit back and make a conscious effort only to concentrate on the items written in your Circle of Influence. This can be a powerful exercise, especially when you feel like things are getting on top of you, you’re worrying or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Often you will realise that you can influence much more than you thought, or see that you’re worrying about things you can’t control or do anything about, and this will change your attitude and response to them.
Be proactive. Proactivity is, according to Stephen Covey, one of the most important characteristics of successful and personally effective people. Reactive people waste time and energy focusing their efforts in the Circle of Concern. They focus on things like the reactions of other people, what others might think of them, the weather, if flares will ever come back into fashion, and things over which they have little or no control.
However, proactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Influence and take responsibility for their life, rather than just watching how things happen. Productive proactive people do not waste their time or energy concerning themselves with things that are not in their Circle of Influence. Instead, they take conscious control of their life and invest their time wisely, concentrating all their effort on setting goals towards influencing and improving
the things in that Circle of Influence that they can do something about, like their health, children, business, and work. Their better time management habits = more productivity.
Identifying what is in your Circle of Influence will enable you to see where your actions can have an impact. Why waste 30-minutes of your day worrying about something you have no control over, when you could have invested that time more productively, working on an important project, exercising to improve your health or learning something new.
The key is to focus your energy on those things that you can influence – this will enable you to make effective changes and you’ll be more effective, others will see you in a positive light, and this will increase your feeling of empowerment.
“Focus on what you can control and don’t waste energy on the things you cannot.”
Proactivity and how to be more productive is one of the many topics I cover on the Own Your Day 8-week Time Management Course. This is a value packed course that will empower you to accomplish your goals and create a life by YOUR design through mastering your time management and mindset.
It will challenge the way you see time, how you approach your time management and goes against the usual “time management techniques” that often don’t serve us. As Jamie, one of our previous course participants said, “if you feel like you don’t have enough time and never get the things done you want to then this is the course for you”.
The course start soon and places are limited so find out more HERE!
Now you know about the Circle of Concern vs. The Circle of Influence and have identified what is in your Circle of Influence. Now you need to decide how you are going to apply this knowledge. You might like to invest some time reflecting on the following questions:
This is our opportunity to get to know a bit more about each other, to look at your goals, how coaching will support you and how to proceed with coaching if this is right for you!
I offer 1-2-1 coaching packages, as well as courses and group programmes at certain points of the year so please feel free to still book in a chat with me if you’re not looking for 1-2-1 coaching but interested in other courses instead.
Poor health habits are one of the ‘Four Thieves’ that can hold you up and seriously impacts upon your time management & productivity. Make sure that you include your health in your Circle of Influence. Read my blog Why Looking After Your Health Improves Your Productivity,to find out why and what steps you can take to increase your focus, concentration and productivity.
Identifying the things in your Circle of Influence and then setting goals to be more proactive and dealing with these things is challenging. However, thought is the most powerful force in the universe and our thoughts are the controlling factor in what we manifest and create in our lives. The idea precedes the thing. In my article Harnessing the Power of Visualisation to Create Success you can find out more about how you can use visualisation to create success by harnessing the power of your subconscious mind.
Are you stuck in your comfort zone? Read my article, How to Expand Your Comfort Zone to Achieve Your Goals, to understand what a comfort zone is and why it is important to step out of your comfort zone in order develop new skills, experience new things and fulfil your true potential.
Do you procrastinate? Procrastination negatively impacts on your precious time and also creates enormous mental anguish & stress. In my article, Procrastination: A Brief Guide on How to Stop Procrastinating, I explore practical solutions to stop you procrastinating, so you can improve your time management and productivity. Discover why you procrastinate and following my tips & techniques that provide practical solutions to stop procrastinating, so you can improve your time management and productivity.