Time Management
Productivity Consulting and Leadership Coaching for business and nonprofits - get your most important work done. Collaborating with leaders and their teams to become more strategic, focused and productive. Leadership and Board Coaching, Strategic Planning Facilitation, Productivity Coaching and Consulting, Professional Speaker.
Productivity Coach, Productivity Consultant, Leadership Coach, Executive Coach, Business Consulting, personal productivity, time management, nonprofit, board coach, collaboration, strategic planning, facilitation, change management, leading productive teams, project planning, board development, volunteer engagement, association management, workplace productivity, executive director.
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Time Management

Last week I wrote about setting up your to-do list by priorities so that you didn’t have to copy the same information over and over again.  This concept captures the new way of managing time.  The reality is that no matter how hard we work or how organized we are, we can no longer get everything done.  When planning how to use our time I have found it most effective to group my to-dos into priorities.  Many time-management gurus have their own methodology.  Mine is a hybrid – based on what I’ve seen WORK with clients over the past 12 years.  As with everything I do, it’s easy, because we’ve learned – if it’s not easy it doesn’t happen.

Critical – must be done today before I leave the office or go to bed

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As we go through our busy days we are pulled in many directions.  Deciding what actually priorities are, isn’t as easy as it sounds.  Is it working on the project plan for your team/boss/self?  Is it attending another meeting?  Is it making time to exercise or getting to your child’s concert on time?  Is it choosing to answer the phone or the emails?  It is truly hard to decide.

Interestingly enough, the word DECIDE comes from the Latin word decidere, which literally means to cut off (from de- + caedere to cut).  When you decide to do one thing you are CUTTING OFF the opportunity to do something else.   No wonder this is difficult!

To help you DECIDE what your priorities are, I recommend creating a filter list.  Run your options through the filter and see which items are big enough to not fall through.  Here is the criteria I use for my “Must Do Today” filter:

If I don’t do it today:

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Do you ever ask yourself how you can better manage your time?

If managing people is making choices about how to maximize their potential, than you can easily say that managing time is making choices about how to maximize its potential as well.

One of the most useful tools I have found to most effectively manage time is Pareto’s Principle.  Pareto was an Italian Economist who in 1906 observed that 80% of Italy’s land was owned by 20% of the population.  From this comes The Pareto Principle, more commonly known as the 80/20 rule.  Simply put, 20% inputs yield 80% output

How does this help you manage your time?

Let’s look at 3 relevant examples:   (more…)

When I was in college and had a term paper to write I would go to the Library and check out as many books and periodicals as I could find. I would read them, then write the paper. The amount of information available was finite.

It is not this way for today’s students. With the advent of computers there is no end to the amount of research that can be done. The amount of information available is infinite. But somehow, kids today have learned when enough is enough and are able to stop researching and start writing.

If your formative years were like mine, learning when to stop presents a challenge. We were taught to research a topic until all sources were exhausted. Could this be part of the reason why our work never seems to end? We were taught to research until we could research no more. Trying to do this in today’s day and age does nothing but over-stress us, over-work us, and cause us to run continually behind. We simply have access to too much information.

When working in today’s climate consider creating self-imposed limits:

  • I will research the topic for 1 hour and then act
  • I will read 4 books and 4 articles and then act
  • I will give myself one week to gather information and then act

The concept of stopping research before exhausting all options is uncomfortable for many detailed and perfectionist professionals. But when you consider the minimal incremental learning you gain from the 5th, 6th, and 7th books you will be more empowered to stop gathering and start producing. As my favorite Disney character Mary Poppins says, Enough is as Good as a Feast.

I went to a great meeting yesterday with a lot of free give-aways. I saw people taking and taking and taking. I kept thinking “Where are they going to put it all?” I thought about what it means to bring all this stuff into our homes and offices. Free isn’t really free. Bringing something into your space costs you in many different ways:

  • Freebies take your time – now you are going to have to make time to put it away. How much time will it take you to make a space for it so it can be useful? How much time will it take to figure out how to use it and when to use it?    (more…)

If you thrive on deadlines, it’s better to plan for them than fight them. Worrying about if you are going to get done on time or being frustrated about how you’ve waited until the last minute is a complete waste of energy. Instead try planning your success:

  1. Plan backwards to your deadline – identify exactly when you need to finish the project. Don’t build in extra time. If it’s due Thursday at noon it needs to be done Thursday at noon.
  2. Write down the steps you need to accomplish. Identify each step on its own index card or post-it. That way you can keep the current step top of mind and not worry about anything else. Put them in order.    (more…)