Where do people get any time from?

From your perspective Urgent Not Urgent
Important 1. A crisis. Will almost always get time and immediate attention 2. The domain of your ongoing future.
 

Not Important

3. A crisis imposed by another. Will usually gain time and attention. 4. Just for fun. Company outings, dinners, etc. Where one gets to just enjoy being with others.

 

April 02, 2016 (Seattle)

Your initial surge of “new time” will be coming from the “time wasters” of blocks 3 and 4.

Block 3 time wasters are mostly exerted on you by others. Meetings that do not need your attendance. Help others on things just to be nice. Interruptions. Popular things that are not necessary.

Block 4 time wasters are the “do it to yourself” time wasters. Games on your phone. Prolonged lunches. Junk mail. Mindless TV.

To overpower these time wasters takes discipline upfront.

Will you do it for yourself so that you can begin creating a better life for you and the others you care about?

The “other 6%” The will to progress

Jan 18, 2015 (San Diego) –

            A bit late, but “better late than never”:  a happy and prosperous New Year to you.

In my Dec 14th blog I wrote that I would write on the “will to progress”.

My experience as a manager and consultant is that almost anyone can

                                 get to be one of the 6%ers on their critical tasks if they want to. Their

                                 major obstacle is their will to progress and having a coach to help them

                                 move from average to way above average.

                                      In my next blog I will write about the ‘will to progress.’”

              I get to do a lot of training of managers. They gain skills and get the practice those skills while we are together. The amount of application after the session is often very low. They said that the information was good. The presentation was good. The usefulness was good. What then happened to application?

For the 9% who already have the discipline skills to apply a new skill without additional guidance, you can forgo the rest of this blog entry. For the rest of us, read on.

A key tool that I use to systematically begin learning a new skill or to perform a non-routine task that is calendarcumbersome for me like completing my taxes I use my calendar.

  1. I schedule 15 minutes to 30 minutes a couple of times / week to work on the task or the new skill
  2. More time than that will prove overwhelming as our plate is already full
  3. I need to start the task with enough 15 – 30 windows to complete the task before the deadline
  4. I need to know what the deadline is
  5. If I miss a scheduled “window” I need to do two thingsclock
  1. Reschedule as the deadline is coming
  2. Check why I missed the window. I may need to rethink the planuntil the day before you meet with your tax preparer or the 13th of April and go into “crash” mode to either get the taxes done or file for an extension. Either last minute action will require more time and can potentially set you up for error. Not good.
  3.             Take the easier road and systematically schedule things on your calendar. Try it once you will like it.
  4. Of course you can completely forgo all this proper planning and just leave it

More Managing my time: self discipline

Jan 26, 2014 (Moscow)

I am conducting a two day time management program. Ostensibly the focus is the business application of managing one’s time. In this tactical customer service team the grid segment in Covey’s view on time: the grid labeled “important and urgent” occupies clock80% of the day. Another 15% of the day goes to Covey’s grid segment labeled: not important but urgent” which includes conference calls and routine business matters. The segment of the day which occupies maybe 15% of the time of life yet only gets 5% of the available time is labeled: important and not urgent.

What are the important but not urgent matters of your life? In this program 90% of the participants noted it was family matters and personal issues like exercise, professional improvement, planning, holidays, and vacation time. Does that seem familiar to you?

The post of Jan 5, 2014 noted that Sue Shellenbarger had found that planning these important but not urgent items on the calendar and then working life to free up that time was very therapeutic. This process made up far more effective during the planning time for two reasons:

  1. People were more effective because they      wanted those important – not urgent things for them selves
  2. Once they had the “off time” they were      more rejuvenated when back in the world of “urgent”.

 

Wouldn’t you like to enjoy more important – not urgent segments in your lifeasking questions and simultaneously be more rejuvenated during the “urgent segments”?

Managing my time is a purposeful self discipline

Jan 5, 2014 (San Diego)

First posted on October 2, 2009

Take a few minutes to read the following article by Sue Shellenbarger of the Wall Street Journal.  Not only is the “tip” powerful but her diagnosis of how the tip really makes the tip work is worth pondering.  A tip where the focus of integrity is for you and your Integritysignificant others: those few who often get the short end of available time.  You will notice that the key is to put the time you want for you on your calendar and fix it like any other client appointment. Do you have time on your calendar for the things you want to do for you and your family? Start now: give yourself 30 minutes / week to start with and expand from there.

It was 4 p.m. on a recent Friday—a time of the week when I usually relax and leave the rest of my to-do list to finish over the weekend. But as this recent weekend approached, I kept pushing myself, heart pumping, to get to the bottom of my list of planned tasks for the week.

After years of working on and off throughout most weekends, I was trying a new approach by taking off at least one entire day every weekend this month, away from reporting, writing and all other work. Early on, I hated pauseit. As simple as it seemed, sticking to a time-off plan stressed me out at first. What I didn’t see right away was that my little test was forcing me to improve the way I work.

Amid layoffs and burgeoning workloads, it seems, working any time, all the time, has become a habit. A survey of 605 U.S. workers last spring by the Society for Human Resource Management found that 70% of employees work beyond scheduled time and on weekends; more than half blame “self-imposed pressure.” Now, new research suggests some have reached the point where a paradoxical truth applies: To get more done, we need to stop working so much.

Sticking to a schedule of predictable time off can lead to improved productivity. Here are some steps to

get started:

  • Agree on future goals with your boss and coworkers.
  • Plan for deadlines far in advance
  • Set, and focus on, top hourly, daily or weekly priorities.
  • Cooperate with coworkers to back each other up.

A groundbreaking four-year study, set for publication in the October issue of Harvard Business Review, seems to confirm that getting away from work can yield unexpected on-the-job benefits. When members of 12 consulting teams at Boston Consulting Group were each required to take a block of “predictable time off” during every work week, “we had to practically force some professionals” to get away, says Leslie Perlow, the Harvard Business School leadership professor who headed the study.

But the results surprised Harvard researchers and Boston Consulting executives alike. Working together to make sure each consultant got some time off forced teams to communicate better, share more personal information and forge closer relationships. They also had to do a better job at planning ahead and streamlining work, which in some cases resulted in improved client service, based on interviews with clients. Boston Consulting is so pleased with the outcome that the firm is rolling out a similar teaming strategy over the coming year on many new U.S. and some overseas projects, says Grant Freeland, senior partner and managing director of the firm’s Boston office. “We have found real value in this,” he says. “It really changes how we do our work.”

Other companies are putting the brakes on work in other ways. At KPMG, a professional-services firm, managers use “wellness scorecards” to track whether employees are working too much overtime or skipping vacation, a spokesman says. At Fenwick & West, a Silicon Valley law firm, “workflow coordinators” review attorneys’ hours to avert overload.

And at Bobrick Washroom Equipment, North Hollywood, Calif., a 500-employee manufacturer, staffers are expected to leave in time for dinner. “If you walk around here at 5:30, there are going to be very few lights on, and that’s what we expect,” says Mark Louchheim, president. He sees family dinners together as important to the well-being of employees and their children, and he also believes setting limits on work motivates people to work smarter.

In the study, most of the four- or five-member teams were asked to guarantee each consultant one uninterrupted evening free each week after 6 p.m., away from Black Berry’s and all contact with work. Each team held weekly meetings to talk about the time-off plans, work processes and what consultants called “tummy rumbles”—gut worries or concerns about their project.

Requiring hard-driving consultants to take time off was “nerve-racking” and awkward at first, says Debbie Lovich, who headed one of the teams. Some fought the idea, claiming they would have to work more on weekends or draw poor performance ratings.

But the point of the experiment wasn’t to eliminate the “good intensity” in work—the “buzz” from constant learning and “being in the thick of things,” Harvard’s Dr. Perlow says. Instead, researchers targeted “bad intensity”—a feeling of having no time truly free from work, no control over work and no opportunity to ask questions to clarify foggy priorities, she says.

Ms. Lovich adds: “We wanted to teach people that you can tune out completely” for a while and still turn out good work. The work itself became the focus, “because if you know a night off is coming up, you’re not going to let things spike out of control,” she says.

After five months of predictable time off, internal surveys showed consultants were more satisfied with their jobs and work-life balance, and more likely to stay with the firm, compared with consultants who weren’t part of the experiment. As word spread, other consultants began asking to join the study, Ms. Lovich says. And some clients told researchers the teams’ work had improved, partly because improved communication among team members kept junior consultants better informed about the big picture.

Bobrick Washroom Equipment’s policy to get workers home for dinner came as a shock to Janice Blakely when she joined the company years ago after working “long, long hours” at an energy concern, she says. Seeing staffers at Bobrick leave by 6 p.m., “I thought, ‘Wow, this is not normal.”‘ But in time, the policy “made me look at my performance and tighten up on what I’m doing,” says Ms. Blakely, a marketing manager.

Mr. Louchheim, the Bobrick president, says that employees who habitually stay late may be revealing poor work habits. “We worry about whether they can delegate properly and prioritize their work,” he says. Adds Chris Von Der Ahe, a Korn/Ferry International recruiter who works with Bobrick: “People who do well there are well organized and able to plan their work well.”

Dr. Perlow says an individual worker can get similar results “by challenging oneself to say, ‘I’m going to cut off’ ” work at a certain time every day or every week. ” ‘Now, how am I going to get work done in the time I have?’ This is meant to open your eyes to the possibility” that the way you work can be changed.

In my own experiment, I have managed to keep at least one weekend day work-free so far this month. This has forced me to put proven time-management principles into practice: Plan blocks of work time and stick to the plan; set short-term deadlines to keep work from spiraling out of control; and keep up with email daily, to avoid backlogs.

The rewards have been surprising. On one recent Monday, after an invigorating weekend of working out, attending church and watching college football and hiking with friends, I quickly solved a work problem that had baffled me the previous week. Asked to assess my work this month, my editor, John Blanton, said my columns have been fine. “I’d say, from our perspective, start enjoying your weekends,” he wrote in an email.

Write to Sue Shellenbarger at sue.shellenbarger@wsj.com

Go for the GoldGo for the gold that builds you the most:  

Being Intentional about important but not urgent elements of one’s life

March 28, 2013 (San Diego)From my viewpoint as a time management consultant I have seen a growing trend towards “cloud calendaring.” There is nothing on the calendar except that absolutely fixed “in cement” items like a weekly required business meeting. All the rest of the calendar is wide open so that the person can be responsive the cloud of demands that come their way on a daily basis.

How are decisions made: personal priorities and proximity of the demand to the designated time. A business colleague has a monthly discretionary meeting. As the meeting time draws near the frequency of reminder email increases exponentially. It is very clear that the organizer is not expecting anyone to put the item on their calendar which would preclude the need for constant messaging and the event coordinator believes they are competing with 3 or 4 other viable alternatives.

Suppose though a person was intentional about what he/she was doing with their time and life? In the case of one meeting that puts out incessant reminders all that would be guy oneneeded is to make an entry in “Outlook” and mark it as reoccurring monthly: one email for an entire year.

Being totally flexible and thus not intentional about a single meeting is a miniscule issue. However when I teach time management and I look at people’s “Outlook” the entire month and the ensuing months only have a few entries.

This absence of calendar entries is often accompanied by comments about “no time” to do this or that. Of course what they mean is when they think about one of these “no time to” items there is no white space in their life to do it. Their life is full of the urgent “fire fighting” items.

How does one create time for the important but not urgent elements in one’s life when constantly surrounded 7 X 24 with firefighting? Things like the son’s soccer match or the daughter’s birthday party or time away with the one’s spouse.

  1. Be intentional about getting to these events. I am going to do it.
  2. Put it on the calendar. The time is occupied. It is not available.quill
  3. Be ready to say “no” or “let’s do it at another time” or “I am booked then” but I am open at…
  4. If it is a large time commitment that can be broken down into pieces then attend to it for ½ hour twice a week, or something like that. I do this very practice when I am working on several book research projects. Assign myself 30 minutes of time twice a week or what is necessary to meet my own deadline and away I go.

When I first started doing this for myself I found I was a bit clumsy in the conversation about saying “no.” I was not particularly elegant about saying it and sometimes I just could not get the words out of my mouth. Practice, practice, practice and sure enough I have become better at getting the important but not urgent items moving forward in my life.

An outcome of this process for me is

  1.  the important things in my life are being advanced.
  2. I am a person of integrity: when I say I will do something I am thereStronger
  3. I “forget” very few things because everything that there is to do is reliably on the calendar
  4. I am much more decisive

Take time to lead

October 2, 2011 (from San Diego) In my September 24th blog, below, I wrote about the lack of timely communications between managers and employees. I also noted one budgeting calamity that occurred due to that lack of communications. At the national level one only needs to watch the EPA on one side in North Dakota nearly strangle petroleum production and the President on the other side bemoaning the dependency on foreign oil on one other side. When key stakeholders are not managing the same conversation in the same way people will become confused. When people are confused costs rise and productivity dwindles. At the individual level I often hear and read that the manager does on have time to properly connect with the employee even though the connections that do not happen will have consequences, some of which are huge. Two time saving schemes have limited value: 1. Squeezing more into an already topped off schedule. 2. Multitasking Trying to get “it” all done is illusive and stress inducing. Ask anyone including yourself. Two time savings schemes that have better value: 1. Put all tasks you are going to do on your calendar. You can only do what you are doing at any point in time. 2. Manage your calendar entries with regard to priority and your own work dynamics. You will become a person of integrity. 1. What you say you will do, will get done. 2. Put those partnering meetings on the calendar based on your work dynamics. The meetings will happen, the employees with get better at what they do. 3. Errors will diminish and productive results will flourish. 4. Try using your calendar better, you will be blessed. October 2, 2011 (from San Diego) In my September 24th blog, below, I wrote about the lack of timely communications between managers and employees. I also noted one budgeting calamity that occurred due to that lack of communications. At the national level one only needs to watch the EPA on one side in North Dakota nearly strangle petroleum production and the President on the other side bemoaning the dependency on foreign oil on one other side. When key stakeholders are not managing the same conversation in the same way people will become confused. When people are confused costs rise and productivity dwindles. At the individual level I often hear and read that the manager does on have time to properly connect with the employee even though the connections that do not happen will have consequences, some of which are huge. Two time saving schemes have limited value: 1. Squeezing more into an already topped off schedule. 2. Multitasking Trying to get “it” all done is illusive and stress inducing. Ask anyone including yourself. Two time savings schemes that have better value: 1. Put all tasks you are going to do on your calendar. You can only do what you are doing at any point in time. 2. Manage your calendar entries with regard to priority and your own work dynamics. You will become a person of integrity. 1. What you say you will do, will get done. 2. Put those partnering meetings on the calendar based on your work dynamics. The meetings will happen, the employees with get better at what they do. 3. Errors will diminish and productive results will flourish. 4. Try using your calendar better, you will be blessed.

Being a person of integrity

August 21, 2010

What factors contribute to employees’ plans to seek new jobs as the economy improves?

48% of employees say “loss of trust”

46% say “lack of transparency in communications”

40% say “being treated unfairly or unethically by employers

Wow, if this research is even close to being comprehensive, then being a person of integrity is huge. If you are a person that regularly uses duplicity to gain advantage what I am about to write will not be any help. This note will help the person who intends to do the right thing but due to poor self management, “right” is way over conquered by “tyranny of the urgent.”

There are two activities a person can develop to improve their integrity:

1. Better self management of time and

2. Speaking straight: i.e. let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no.

  self management of time. Click the “categories” = “time management” on the right hand side of this site and you can read a year’s worth of detail. In summary though, to be a person of integrity with regard to time I MUST be monitoring my promises and keeping them reliably in existence. If you keep them in memory or on a random listing you are “cruising for a bruising”. Just a matter of time, before you crash and burn. If you use your calendar effectively then

    1. Every promise for action is recorded.
    2. Buffers are left to prepare and transit the next item
    3. White space is used for additional promises
    4. I have access to my calendar always
    5. I use my calendar to run my day

David, you must be kidding. My day is total react. Well there is a way of using your calendar when that is your life situation also: do not schedule anything under “busy”, everything for you is “tentative” and the people who connect with you must know this.

  1. Speaking straight. Click the “categories” = Toastmasters. We have learned how to be deceptive and to speak without really saying anything. We have learned how to speak equivocally with great eloquence. You appear to have said something but you said nothing. President Obama found himself role modeling this reality over the last two days with regard to his thoughts on building a mosque near ground zero. “Oh, I did not say what I clearly said.” You and I will reap a commensurate reward if we do not speak straight. How to get better at speaking straight?
    1. Be clear in your mind and heart on what you believe about a situation
    2. Speak from the heart
    3. Work on self development of your communications skills to insure you speak accurately the thoughts of your heart. Anytime I find that I want to avoid the truth totally or just “spin” the truth I do a “heart” check on what is going on inside of me. Most of the times that clears my thoughts and leads me to correct words. Enjoy the blessing of personal integrity.

Expanded leadership opportunities

May 24, 2010                         “The mountain grows!”

                Yes, I was just promoted. Love the promotion and the challenge of managing a “larger mountain” of things to do. The principle challenge for me is now bringing a fresh team together to make it happen. I have found I really enjoy reaching deep into my interpersonal abilities and short comings to help win people over to want to join the team.

                No one has spare time beyond their fundamental contributions to life. To join this team requires time which they do not have. They will need to prioritize in favor of this team and give something up to make the time available. Interesting to watch people try to make it fit along with everything that is already filling their calendar to overflowing . It almost never does. They squeeze and twist and manipulate the schedule until finally something gives: too much to do and not enough time to get it done. Now we find out where this team is in their priorities.

                In running parts of this team last year and up to now, there also seems to be a scarcity of long range planning. There are too many tactical demands. To stop, look down the road 6 months and build backwards from there is not often done. Of course this adds to the tactical demand when the time comes due and they are not ready. They literally are stamping out the fires they created. I guess that makes them organization arsonists.

              For me the principle blessing of leading the team is helping people reach towards their maximum potential and then allow them to see the blessings in their lives from operating beyond the routine. Beyond just being mediocre. Most people have so much more they can give. If I can create the environment that allows them to shine, then they really shine. It is wonderful.

“Benefits of personal management

May 17, 2010                          Imagine allotting time slots on your calendar for known events and time obligations? The time slots might not be written in exactly the chronological slot that they will be completed but the time is allocated. Would there be a benefit to yourself for making these allocations?

               The primary benefit for me is that I am less harassed by life. I do what I can do and no more. The rest is reliably in existence for another time.  

               A second benefit is I find I have more time to think about current events in my life and the life of my family.  I also find I have more time for planning.  

               A third consequence I enjoy is, I find my creative mind is more active and comes up with more ideas in more areas. I expect this is because my mental “ram” is not jammed with things to worry about nor is it always running on “overwhelmed

              A quote I heard recently: “If you are remembering things in your mind (your mental ram), you are remembering those things in the ‘wrong bucket.’”

              Have a great day!

multitasking – the “dark side”

April 15, 2010                                

          If you are really “good” at multitasking then you are equally “good” at not “being present.”

          A definition will help: the multitasking I am referring to in this note is where you work to do two things simultaneously that require similar or near similar brain functions: talking on the phone and writing an email or having a serious business conversation while driving in heavy traffic. The multitasking I am not referring to is the day to day reality of handling multiple tasks over the course of a day or doing two divergent brain functions simultaneously, like talking on the phone and washing the dishes.   

       

1.)     How recently was it that you found yourself not listening to the other person in the very conversation you are in because you were either thinking of your answer or thinking about something all together different and just “checking in” from time to time on the present conversation while checking your i-phone for email?

2.)     Just last week I had an email exchange that clearly reflected that the other person was not totally reading the email in either content or in attention. I do find myself reading email from time to time just to figure out how to get it out of my “in box” and not really taking the time to reflect on what the originator meant.

3.)     Listen to people making a persuasive presentation. How many times do they circle back and repeat the same words they just said? Whose benefit is that for? Did they think we were not listening?

4.)     The other day I left my home going to a new place. I did not give much thought to the direction I should go until I drove for a while: I was thinking of other things and just driving the way I normally drive. Go figure: 5 minutes out of my way I come back into present time only to realize I have driven in totally the wrong direction. Wow, I even drive not totally present

 

For me the “dark side” of multitasking is that

  1. I do not listen well
  2. I do not read email thoroughly
  3. I make mistakes
  4. I am rude to others
  5. I do not act with integrity to others
  6. I do not keep my promises

 

Good time management tools have helped me to stay present in what I am doing because I know that everything else is “reliably in existence”.  Reliably in existence means I do not need to remember and be thinking of other things all the time because I have the events reliably recorded.

 The tool is a “recording tool”, a small notebook where I write down thoughts and ideas that come to me during the day so I do not need to remember all my great thoughts or promises I have made to people.  The tool also helps me be a person of integrity. I keep my promises and my declared intentions. At the end of the day, I have either completed the items I wrote down or I write them into my calendar for action. I start each day with a clean sheet of paper.