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As you know, there are (only) 96 fifteen-minute blocks of time in a day. That means that just 15 minutes is equal to about 1% of the time you have during a day. What do you want to get done? What does “YOU” at 100% look like?
One of the first activities I suggest you do is to create your “Time Management Budget.” Do it with a piece of paper, write it on a white board, create a spreadsheet. However you’re going to do it, do it. At the top, write down the number 96, and then start subtracting:
– other (whatever else you can bring to mind)
Remember the story I told about clients that I coach over time? (We usually work together anywhere from 6 months to a full year together.) In one of the first sessions, I have you write out 96 items on 3X5 note cards; each card gets 15 minutes’ worth of an activity. (So, if you think you’re best with 7 hours of sleep, one hour of exercise and 30 minutes of reading to the kids…there go 34 note cards; 34 fifteen minute blocks, and you haven’t eaten, gone to meetings, commuted to work, or spent any time with your spouse!)
By the way, if you do this activity, be sure to START with 96 cards. I’ve gotten too many calls from clients saying they forgot to “take out 4 cards from the stack of 100 they bought.” Next thing they knew, they had over-committed; they had written things on 100 note cards only to realize that there “isn’t that much time in the day!
For those of you who would like to look through the slides one more time, here they are (I had to take out the videos, the presentation was too big with them to post online).
How do you make the most of your TIME? Reflect back on the 4 “real” limited resources of productivity and self-management. Time is just one of them…the other three are:
Energy: You’re a morning person or an afternoon person or an evening person. You get overwhelmed or excited by deadlines. You need a lot of or a little bit of sleep. You can manage a lot in your head or you need to write things down as soon as you think of them. How you manage your MENTAL and PHYSICAL energy will immediately and significantly alter how you use your time. Later in the seminar, we discussed the importance of knowing when you’re “at your best.” The best reason I can give you for knowing (and following the directions you wrote!) when you’re at your best is so that you can manage your energy more effectively.
Focus: According to one of my mentors, Allyson Lewis (author and investment manager), our attention span is about 7 minutes long. Now, that’s not just how long we can hold our own focus, but it’s about how long we can go before we’re interrupted by someone on the desk. “Do you have a minute?” That question is NOT about time (resource #1), it IS about focus (resource #3). Oh, by the way, as you change your focus you will notice a dip or a lift in your energy. (Have you ever seen someone’s name in your email Inbox and gotten stress? Have you ever seen the caller ID on your phone and smiled ear to ear?
Ecosystem: Now, you’re remembering, is the resource that affects them ALL! Yes, if you change how you use your systems and tools, you can implement the “Focus to Finish” mindset, you will free up energy by completing more tasks and having to remember less, and you will feel (or it will seem) like you’re a better time manager. By the way, this is where it gets so interesting in the “app world.” Why? Because inventor after inventor (and, of course, investor!) gets an idea of a new TOOL that will fix her or his system. The trick is to get you to believe in it enough to change your previous behaviors.
Have you ever considered using some kind of “voice-to-text” transcription service?
My mentor in a lot of this is a man named Marshall Goldsmith. In fact, he has written the Foreword to the last two books I’ve published. If you haven’t yet, please do review what he had to say; in Your Best Just Got Better, he describes three take-aways from the book; I hope you get to share that with your team, friends, colleagues and mentees!
One of the things that Marshall has coached me in is to identify the “habits” I’ve put in to place to get from where I was, to where I am. He says (and I talk about this in chapters 2 and 10) that in order to get to the next level of who we are and how we’ll be (and, what we’ll have) we “may” need to actually CHANGE our current habits. My favorite book from Marshall is: “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.”
Tough part is, those habits that you DO do are actually the ones that got you to where you are. My only prompt is, “Are they sustainable?”
Can you continue:
- Arriving to the office an hour or so early, to work without interruptions of your coworkers?
- Staying at the office late, to work without interruptions of your coworkers.
- Logging in to your computer on the weekend or after dinner, to work without interruptions of your coworkers?
(By the way, are you catching the theme here???)
- Scheduling meetings for an hour, even though you’ll only need 45 minutes, knowing people will arrive and the meeting will start late?
- Setting reminders on your desktop calendar/task management system that you continually “Dismiss” or “Snooze”?
I’ve got good news, and better news.
Good: You don’t have to stop any of these bad habits.
Better: You simply replace them with new ones that are equal or better in value!
Where do you begin? Start with the inventory you created in just those 3 minutes, over on page 6 of the workbook. There is information there that will direct (and/or change) your focus back to the short term/long term, personal/professional, big/little, urgent/important things that will need your attention. Oh, also check out the three mini-assessments you started during the course.
For the next 5 days, put your focus on the inventory of what:
… you do by 10am each morning,
… systems/tools/gear/technology you count on to get your work done,
… brings you rest, relaxation, rejuvenation and reinvention.
Those inventories are critical to the process of iterative, continued, and personal improvement. For until you know what you do, you don’t know what to do differently. If you can clarify exactly what you do out of routine between the time you wake up in the morning and about 10am, you’ll have some information you can use to your advantage.
If you want to be more effective, work more efficiently and act as a steward of your time, you get that inventory complete and then you decide what to:
Delete: Chances are high that you’re doing something 5 days a week that IF you only did it 3 times you’d be just fine. One client I worked with recently realized she was spending 10-15 minutes a day reviewing her “Sent Items” in her email looking for items that she had to follow up on. For 5 days, we tried an experiment:
– 3 days (Mon/Weds/Fri) she set a timer for 10 minutes and reviewed her Sent Items (as per her normal). When she came across something that she was WAITING ON, she pressed CTRL+SHIFT+K on her keyboard and typed something like: “04/2/2012 – Jason Womack – Productivity TouchPoint video program proposal” which she organized in a “task list category” called Waiting On.
– 2 days (Tues/Thurs) she set a timer for 10 minutes and reviewed the next two weeks of her calendar. When she came across something to act on, she pressed CTRL+SHIFT+K on her keyboard and typed in something like: “Call Jason Womack 805-640-6401 re: upcoming keynote advisory session at conference” which she organized in a “task list category” called Actions.
Within one week, she had Identified more work and developed a more up-to-date system than she had seen in years. It only took a little bit of experimentation to realize that she could use her morning planning time differently.
(NOTE: Please let me know if you’d like any more information on such a tip…)
Delegate: Of course here it’s a little tricky. If you’re a manager, and have someone on your team who CAN help you with different pieces of work, I’d absolutely encourage you to “Call a meeting” immediately. Sit down once a week for the next 5 weeks, and simply come up with an inventory of what you could delegate. Don’t start delegating things yet, simply come up with the preliminary list of things you COULD delegate. Now, if you don’t have anyone to delegate to (if YOU are your own assistant!) then I’d recommend you STILL make this inventory. I did. I have a running list of things I’d ask a staff person, intern or co-worker to do, if someone said, “Jason, do you need some help?”
You can, however, begin delegating immediately to your “systems.” Consider the examples I gave you of ReQall.com and using GoogleAlerts. Also, consider your own Microsoft® Outlook® Task system the ultimate personal assistant who tracks your reminders, meetings, agenda items and more. I’ve even seen people keep a digital “memo” pad on their iPhone, BlackBerry® or Droid. There, they continue to add things they need to see or think about later. You’re delegating more than actions, you’re giving the reminder to take that action to a system that can help you manage the task, the priority, the conversation and he project much more effectively over time.
Here is a quick video you can watch (and, feel free to pass this on to your colleagues, clients and friends) with just one idea for maximizing Microsoft® Outlook®.
One thing we didn’t get to in our session together is the how-to and when-to PROCESS the big “bucket list” you wrote. Remember I asked you to take just 3 minutes and write down at least 18 items that you could bring to mind while we were together in the seminar. Well, one thing you’ll immediately notice is that your “thinking profile” showed up there. Did you write your list as a group of Nouns? Or Verbs?
Not that one is right or wrong. One is not better than the other. People are not “normal” if they do it one way and not the other. But, there is some significant information in there. At least there was for me…
The first time I recognized a difference was when I attended a personal development seminar the summer that my wife and I were planning our wedding (this was back in 1998). We were sitting at a table, and took time to write. In silence, we wrote a long list of what we were thinking. Well, I was amazed to see that after about 20 minutes (imagine if I had asked you to write for that long!) she and I had two very different lists going…mine, a long list of Nouns. Hers…verbs!
When I recognized the impact of this on productivity and performance (and, our upcoming marriage!) I knew I was on to something significant. Naturally, I think in terms of the big picture, she turns those thoughts into actions. She naturally considers the steps along the way, I easily see the finished product as if it’s already done.
Now, how about you? You need to do both, right? So, go through the notebook, and you’ll see some extra pages there toward the end. I encourage you to spend time turning your Bucket List in to actions and projects; that is: the start and finish points. Then, go through your email Inbox and apply the same method. Review your notebooks (and your sticky notes) get as much as you can to this level of “action.” You’ll see a difference as you practice this more and more.
Here are some links you may want to review, as you continue pushing on this information. And, of course I’m already looking forward to reading your comments below! (Leave a question, I’ll get an answer to you ASAP…)
Here are some books we recommend
I just keep learning from the TED website
Here is a link to specific ideas you can use right away to work more effectively using Outlook (pass this on to your coworkers!)