Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 5, Issue 11;   March 16, 2005: Recovering Time: II

Recovering Time: II

by

Where do the days go? How can it be that we spend eight, ten, or twelve hours at work each day and get so little done? To find more time, focus on strategy.

In Part I, we looked at time-defragmentation strategies. In this Part II are some strategies for recovering time by reducing planning effort and the time needed to deal with difficulties that arise from self-defeating patterns.

Get help with micromanagement
A sundialMicromanaging is an attempt to control what we cannot actually control. That's why it chews up so much time.
Have you been micromanaging? If you have, you're in for a treat: you actually do have time to do your own job, and once you focus on it, it will be fun again.
Get more space
Cramped, cluttered quarters cost time. If you can't get a bigger office, compress the stuff you have.
Strategies for compressing your stuff: get taller filing cabinets; throw stuff out; move things to storage; and acquire shelving, trays, or drawers.
Harness the urge to perfect
Stop doing the tasks
you shouldn't be doing.
They aren't your job.
We spend way too much time ironing out details of components that we'll never actually use.
Learn the meaning of "good enough." Situations change so rapidly that building for the future (that is, next week) is often a waste. Do what you're pretty sure you'll need — and no more.
Spend less time searching for stuff
Among the items most commonly lost are: cell phone, eyeglasses, documents, keys, and whatever you had in your hand a minute ago, until you set it down someplace.
Organizing helps with the documents. For the other items, establish a standard "parking space" for setting things down temporarily.
Get out of the swamp
Sometimes we're so swamped that we don't have time to work on getting unswamped.
Give priority to tasks that free you up. For instance, you might have an assistant, but he or she isn't cutting it, and you're tolerating that. Deal with it.
Stop doing tasks you shouldn't
Some things we do aren't really a part of the job. We took them on because we didn't know how to say no, or we liked them, or maybe we can't let go.
Unload what you can, and then deal with causes. Learn to let go. Learn to say no. Learn to let others do the things you love that aren't part of your job. Get some coaching or help from a mentor.

And here are two suggested by reader Rodney Thompson:

Shift your time
Start your day an hour earlier to gain some uninterrupted time when no one is around.
Clearing the delicate, frightening, or urgent tasks might keep them from nagging at you for the rest of the day.
Monitor yourself
Realistically write down your top priorities for the day, and set time aside to get them done.
Put the list somewhere in easy view. Mobile devicess are nice, but index cards are always powered on.

If you were to implement just one of these strategies this week, which would it be? First in this series  Go to top Top  Next issue: Can You Hear Me Now?  Next Issue

Reader Comments
Ron Thompson, Eiscon Group, Ltd. (www.eiscon.com)
Here's another one that I learned a while back. Be brave enough to leave when you are done. Staying around for "appearances" is a huge time waster!

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

Your comments are welcome

Would you like to see your comments posted here? rbrenJpbiUMtOOYnzSwgdner@ChacirXwwuANVmZYJPUwoCanyon.comSend me your comments by email, or by Web form.

About Point Lookout

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful, and that you'll consider recommending it to a friend.

Point Lookout is a free weekly email newsletter. Browse the archive of past issues. Subscribe for free.

Support Point Lookout by joining the Friends of Point Lookout, as an individual or as an organization.

Do you face a complex interpersonal situation? Send it in, anonymously if you like, and I'll give you my two cents.

Related articles

More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:

Tugboats workingBecome a Tugboat Captain
If your job responsibilities sometimes require that you tell powerful people that they must do something differently, you could find yourself in danger from time to time. You can learn a lot from tugboat captains.
Sun doing a loop-de-loopA Message Is Only a Message
When we receive messages of disapproval, we sometimes feel bad. And when we do, it can help to remember that we have the freedom to decide whether or not to accept the messages we receive.
The wreckage of the Silver Bridge across the Ohio RiverHyper-Super-Overwork
The prevalence of overwork has increased with the depth of the global recession, in part because employers are demanding more, and in part because many must now work longer hours to make ends a little closer to meeting. Overwork is dangerous. Here are some suggestions for dealing with it.
The Messerschmitt Me 262, which was the first jet fighter to fly in combatHow to Foresee the Foreseeable: Preferences
When people collaborate on complex projects, the most desirable work tends to go to those with highest status. When people work alone, they tend to spend more time on the parts of the effort they enjoy. In both cases, preferences rule. Preferences can lead us astray.
A tire reef off the coast of Fort Lauderdale, FloridaManaging Hindsight Bias Risk
Performance appraisal practices and project retrospectives both rely on evaluating performance after outcomes are known. Unfortunately, a well-known bias — hindsight bias — can limit the effectiveness of many organizational processes, including both performance appraisal and project retrospectives.

See also Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness for more related articles.

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

September 11, 2001 attacks in New York CityComing August 23: Look Where You Aren't Looking
Being blindsided by an adverse event could indicate the event's sudden, unexpected development. It can also indicate a failure to anticipate what could have been reasonably anticipated. How can we improve our ability to prepare for adverse events? Available here and by RSS on August 23.
"The Thinker," by Auguste RodinAnd on August 30: They Just Don't Understand
When we cannot resolve an issue in open debate, we sometimes try to explain the obstinacy of others. The explanations we favor can tell us more about ourselves than they do about others. Available here and by RSS on August 30.

Coaching services

I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenKZbGcPxynrRWeXZfner@ChacACyKzTMnSktkxsiWoCanyon.com or (617) 491-6289, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.

Get the ebook!

Past issues of Point Lookout are available in six ebooks:

Reprinting this article

Are you a writer, editor or publisher on deadline? Are you looking for an article that will get people talking and get compliments flying your way? You can have 500 words in your inbox in one hour. License any article from this Web site. More info

Public seminars

The Race to the South Pole: Ten Lessons for Project Managers
On 14The Race to the Pole: Ten Lessons for Project Managers December 1911, four men led by Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole. Thirty-five days later, Robert F. Scott and four others followed. Amundsen had won the race to the pole. Amundsen's party returned to base on 26 January 1912. Scott's party perished. As historical drama, why this happened is interesting enough, but to organizational leaders, business analysts, project sponsors, and project managers, the story is fascinating. Lessons abound. Read more about this program. Here are some dates for this program:

Creating High Performance Virtual Teams
Many Creating High Performance Virtual Teamspeople experience virtual teams as awkward, slow, and sometimes frustrating. Even when most team members hail from the same nation or culture, and even when they all speak the same language, geographic dispersion or the presence of employees from multiple enterprises is often enough to exclude all possibility of high performance. The problem is that we lead, manage, and support virtual teams in ways that are too much like the way we lead, manage, and support co-located teams. In this program, Rick Brenner shows you how to change your approach to leading, managing, and supporting virtual teams to achieve high performance using Simons' Four Spans model of high performance. Read more about this program. Here's a date for this program:

The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
Many The Power Affect: How We Express Personal Powerpeople who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.

Follow Rick

Send email or subscribe to one of my newsletters Follow me at LinkedIn Follow me at Twitter, or share a tweet Follow me at Google+ or share a post Subscribe to RSS feeds Subscribe to RSS feeds
The message of Point Lookout is unique. Help get the message out. Please donate to help keep Point Lookout available for free to everyone.
21st Century Business TravelAre your business trips long chains of stressful misadventures? Have you ever wondered if there's a better way to get from here to there relaxed and refreshed? First class travel is one alternative, but you can do almost as well (without the high costs) if you know the tricks of the masters of 21st-century e-enabled business travel…
Go For It: Sometimes It's Easier If You RunBad boss, long commute, troubling ethical questions, hateful colleague? Learn what we can do when we love the work but not the job.
101 Tips for Managing ConflictFed up with tense, explosive meetings? Are you the target of a bully? Learn how to make peace with conflict.
101 Tips for Managing ChangeAre you managing a change effort that faces rampant cynicism, passive non-cooperation, or maybe even outright revolt?
101 Tips for Effective MeetingsLearn how to make meetings more productive — and more rare.
Exchange your "personal trade secrets" — the tips, tricks and techniques that make you an ace — with other aces, anonymously. Visit the Library of Personal Trade Secrets.