Time Management

Be A Time Management God.

Be A Time Management God.

Over the past few weeks, I've been aggregating many time management tips I share with clients to get more done in the limited amount of time they have.

You Can Be The Best You Can Be.

You Can Be The Best You Can Be.

I came up with a simple and powerful tool the other day. I was standing in my office in front of a large Post-It notepad sheet with a red sharpie in my hand (red delivers intention!) — and the ideas just flowed.

The Perfect Message On Time Management (from a Google Manager).

I was wondering around the web the other day and ran into this article/email on Medium (one of my favorite sites). I ran into a profound message from a Google manager who wrote a simple email to his staff on Time Management. (By Jeremiah DillonHead of Product Marketing, Google Apps for Work)

It was so well received, he was asked to broadcast it to a larger audience, and history was made.

Here it is in it's entirety (even with some inside Google jokes). Enjoy!


To: Friend

Subject: If you don’t have time to read this…read it twice.

Stop. Breathe. Now, think about how you’re managing your time. Speaking for myself, I have some room for improvement.

It’s been said there are two paradigms to scheduling — the manager and the maker.

The manager’s day is cut into 30 minute intervals, and they change what they’re are doing every half hour. Sorta like Tetris — shifting blocks around and filling spaces.

The maker’s day is different. They need to make, to create, to build. But, before that, they need to think. The most effective way for them to use time is in half-day or full-day blocks. Even a single 30 minute meeting in the middle of “Make Time” can be disruptive.

We all need to be makers.

Ok. Great idea. I’ll do that… you know… later… I’m late for a meeting.

No. It doesn’t work that way. The only way to make this successful is to be purposeful. Establish an implementation intention. You need to define precisely when and where you’ll reserve Make Time for your projects. Let me tell you a story about a study on this effect:

  • The control group was asked to exercise once in the next week. 29% of them exercised.
  • Experiment group 1 was given the same ask, along with detailed information about why exercise is important to health (i.e. “you’ll die if you don’t”.) 39% of them exercised.
  • Experiment group 2 was asked to commit to exercising at a specific place, on a specific day at a specific time of their choosing. 91% of them exercised.

Commit to protecting Make Time on your calendar including the time and place where you’ll be making, and ideally detail on what you’ll be making. That way, you know, it’ll actually happen.

So, I can just do this like… last thing on Friday, right… after all of my meetings are over?

Actually, no. Many of our meetings could be shorter or include fewer people, and some don’t need to happen at all. Take back those hours for your Make Time instead. But, don’t put it off till the end of the day on Friday — the time you choose really matters. Your energy levels run the course of a wave throughout the week, so try to plan accordingly:

Aim to do the following:

  • Monday: Energy ramps out of the weekend — schedule low demand tasks like setting goals, organizing and planning.
  • Tuesday, Wednesday: Peak of energy — tackle the most difficult problems, write, brainstorm, schedule your Make Time.
  • Thursday: Energy begins to ebb — schedule meetings, especially when consensus is needed.
  • Friday: Lowest energy level — do open-ended work, long-term planning and relationship building.

Always bias your Make Time towards the morning, before you hit a cycle of afternoon decision fatigue. Hold the late afternoon for more mechanical tasks.

My new challenge to you: create and protect your Make Time and before you “steal someone’s chair,” consider whether it’ll be disruptive to their Make Time.

P.S. I have Make Time on my calendar. Please don’t schedule over it, and I promise to do my best not to schedule over yours.

How Do Busy Leaders Make More Time?

One of my clients sent me their daily schedule. I was so blown away by it's simplicity and it's ability to fit many professional and personal things in — I just had to publish it for my audience. In their own words: "I want to put myself on a schedule.  I need a schedule where I meditate 2x per day, exercise, have ample time for self-education and time to relax."

  • 5:00 AM - Get Up.
  • 5:00 to 6:00 AM — Meditate for 20 minutes, Walk for 30 minutes, Lift weights for 10 minutes.
  • 6:00 to 6:30 AM — Eat Breakfast, Coffee.
  • 6:30 to 7:30 AM — Self-Education.
  • 7:30 to 8:30 AM — Get Ready for work.
  • 8:30 to 9:00 AM — Drive to work, Listen to Audiobooks/Podcasts.
  • 9:00 to 5:00 PM — Work.
  • 5:00 to 5:30 PM — Drive home, Listen to Audiobooks/Podcasts.
  • 5:30 to 6:00 PM — Meditate.
  • 6:00 to 7:00 PM — Cook & Eat Dinner.
  • 7:00 to 8:30 PM — Self-Education.
  • 8:30 to 9:00 PM — Ready for Bed.
  • 9:00 to 10:00 PM — Relax, Read, Watch TV.
  • 10:00 PM — Go To Bed.

My client is a successful senior executive at a prestigious company who has accomplished a lot and has been gainfully employed and promoted regularly. They're not a slacker.

As you can see, they get it all done in a relaxed schedule, allocating adequate time for all of their activities. Of course there might be subtle deviations due to travel, emergencies, and unplanned activities, but for the most part, they stick to this plan.

So for all the people out there who say they "don't have the time" — Yes, You DO. 

How to Be an Effective CEO.

It's quite simple - unfortunately, there are many critics, books, and know-it-all's out there trying to 'complexify' (my word) the basic responsibilities of a CEO or C-Level executive.

Are You Late All The Time? Stop It Right Now.

It's not the holidays. It's not the recession. It's not the marketplace. It's you. I've seen a dramatic, broad increase in lateness, cancellations, and just plain not showing up. It's unprofessional. It's clearly states that you really do not value the other person's time. And as many of my corporate colleagues used to say, it might be a 'power' play, but I find it rude.

Hitting A Wall In Your Career? You Need A Breakthrough.

It's tough today. It’s hard when everything is coming at you. Hard to think. Hard to act. Hard to react. As they always say — the first step is always the hardest.

How To Survive In A High Performance Workplace.

Been there, done that. Because of the economy and marketplace, many seemingly normal environments are slowly turning into ‘high-performance’ workplaces (HPW). In addition, if you are working at a startup or within a certain industry (PR, Advertising, Tech, etc.), you might encounter this situation all the time. Here are some tips to help you understand, cope, and succeed in your career:

How To Better Control Your Time.

Time is the one thing you can never get back. So you need to be careful with it, don't waste it, don't hurry through it, and use it effectively. You need to CONTROL your time.

How do you do that? It's easy and it's hard — here are some tips:

Clear Your Desk.

I know . . . it's hard. But once it's done, it is so easy to focus without any distractions to instantly pull you away from the task at hand. Also there is the visual aspect of a clean desk. You FEEL better about yourself and your surroundings. It's easier to find things and important papers don't get lost.

So here's my strategy — Pile, View, Attack/File/Toss/LCB:

  1. Pile - Take everything off your desk and make a single pile of paper.
  2. View - Pick up and look at each piece of paper. You must make four piles:
  3. Attack - work on it immediately - something you can complete within a short amount of time.
  4. File - File it away for future access.
  5. Toss - Throw it away. I know it's hard - but most of your pile can go this route.
  6. LCB: Last Chance Bin - get a box and place it under your desk. If you are unsure of tossing something, put it into this bin. If you need it later, it's there. If not (after 3-6 months), toss it out. This bin works wonders.

Plan Your Day.

This is the hardest and surprisingly the easiest way to get a better handle on your time. Why?

If you go somewhere or if you're on a trip, you have a destination and a route to get there. That's called a plan.

Why is it when you get to work you don't architect the same thinking for your activities, meetings, and tasks? What needs to be done — what is it's priority — and when will you complete it?

Randy Pausch developed a very simple, yet effective template to help anyone plan their day. It's made up of four quadrants:

  • Due Soon and Not Due Soon
  • Important and Not Important

When you look at your "Attack" pile of work for the day, you usually work through it based on time in and time out. But importance flies out the window — most people aren't working on the most important and critical tasks. This tool helps them do it.

Which ones to work on first? Upper left! Which ones to work on last? Lower right! Here's a PDF template you can use.

Work On One Thing At A Time.

This is where we all fall down. We think we can 'multi-task' our work and guess what? We never get anything done or even worse, we do things in a haphazard fashion.

Take your Attack pile and your Activity List and make your way down each item. Once it's complete, check it off. Set aside time to work on your attack pile — don't answer the phone — don't let anyone bother you — don't let anything take your focus away from the task at hand until you are DONE. You can always return that phone call 15-30 minutes later or go see the person who wanted to see you.

Also — turn your email reminders OFF. You can get back to checking email when you're DONE.

At first it will be difficult. But when you start to see a clean desk, a planned out day, and REAL progress on your work. These basic behaviors will begin to kick in. Try it!

 

 

 

How To Be Successful Every Day.

It's Monday! Time to hit work after a wonderful weekend . . . check your email . . . get ready for all those wonderful meetings . . . and make sure you schedule for all the work coming down the pike this week. Whoops! Forgot to tell you something . . . Most executives tend to forget that their job isn't supposed to crank out work (okay - that's part of your job - but just follow my thinking for a bit).

Reorganize Yourself.

Take part of today and devote two hours to reorganizing yourself. Take a fresh look at how you are organized and look for opportunities to improve. You will probably discover several areas where you can eliminate some personal time wasters simply by becoming a little better organized.

Keeping Unscheduled Time.

Making time to reflect and think is a critical leadership practice. In its simplest form, reflecting is just thinking about what happened. It’s the process of thinking about and examining what we’ve experienced, how we reacted and what changes we need to make to become more effective.