Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 3, Issue 46;   November 12, 2003: Time Management in a Hurry

Time Management in a Hurry


Many of us own books on time management. Here are five tips on time management for those of us who don't have time to read the time management books we've already bought.

Traffic had been crawling along, stop-and-go, but now it was more like stop-and-stay-stopped. Drumming his fingers on the steering wheel, Alan looked at the clock: seven minutes until the next traffic report. The problem was most likely the underpass at 217, flooded again. If so, home was far off in Alan's future. Problem was, he was about to pass the Mall exit, and so he had to make a decision now.

A time ManagerThen Alan had an idea. "The Mall exit won't get me home," he thought, "but I can sit out this traffic in one of the mall's three bookstores. Maybe even pick up that book on time management that's been on my to-do list for months."

Have you been meaning to buy a book about time management? Or perhaps you've bought one but haven't read it. How many of us have time management books that we don't have time to read?

If this problem is familiar, read on — the next few minutes might just change your life.

If you've been meaning
to read a book on
time management,
but you can't
find the time,
read this
Work in bigger chunks
Every time you're interrupted, or you change from one task to another, you need 10 or 15 minutes to get back into flow. Limit interruptions. Turn off your automatic email checker, and use caller ID to decide whether to answer the phone. Ask yourself whether you're using email and telephone to avoid or postpone the difficult parts of the task you're doing. See "Recovering Time: I," Point Lookout for February 23, 2005, for more.
Schedule it
Adding something to your "To Do" list doesn't get the job done. Instead of listing it, schedule it. If the task is too big and amorphous to do in one chunk, or even to estimate, schedule the first doable chunk, and then schedule some time to estimate and schedule the rest. Review the schedule regularly, just as if it were a project, because it is.
When you think of it, capture it
Don't let ideas or remembered must-dos escape. Capture them in writing. Set aside time each day to deal with what you've captured — either to schedule it or to reject it.
Be selective about reading
If you feel the need to read a time management book, go ahead, but make three promises to yourself. First, schedule time to read the book. Second, remember that it's difficult to incorporate into your life more than a few big ideas from any book you read cover-to-cover. Finally, answer this question: "Is reading the entire book really worth it?"
Feel progress
As you transform how you work, some changes might be very gradual, and you might not notice them. Rather than measuring progress, focus on your new feeling of order. Notice how you have time for long-forgotten pleasures.

Set realistic expectations. Time management won't make an unreasonable workload reasonable. And it will never help with traffic jams. Go to top Top  Next issue: Encourage Truth Telling  Next Issue

Rick BrennerThe article you've been reading is an archived issue of Point Lookout, my weekly newsletter. I've been publishing it since January, 2001, free to all subscribers, over the Web, and via RSS. You can help keep it free by donating either as an individual or as an organization. You'll receive in return my sincere thanks — and the comfort of knowing that you've helped to propagate insights and perspectives that can help make our workplaces a little more human-friendly. More

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