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

Recovering Time: Part 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? rbrenptOjFtqezBVFAhByner@ChacuadPwNvgAcxuUYGZoCanyon.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:

A bobsled teamTeam Thrills
Occasionally we have the experience of belonging to a great team. Thrilling as it is, the experience is rare. How can we make it happen more often?
A sandwich piled highWorking Lunches
To save time, or to find a time everyone has free, we sometimes meet during lunch. It seems like a good idea, but there are some hidden costs.
Christ's Indian PaintbrushFour Popular Ways to Mismanage Layoffs: Part I
When layoffs are necessary, the problems they are meant to address are sometimes exacerbated by mismanagement of the layoff itself. Here is Part I of a discussion of four common patterns of mismanagement, and some suggestions for those managers and other employees who recognize the patterns in their own companies.
A schematic representation of a MOSFETBottlenecks: Part II
When some people take on so much work that they become "bottlenecks," they expose the organization to risks. Managing those risks is a first step to ending the bottlenecking pattern.
A bottlenose dolphinWacky Words of Wisdom: Part V
Adages, aphorisms, and "words of wisdom" are true often enough that we accept them as universal. They aren't. Here's Part V of some widely held beliefs that mislead us at work.

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

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

Balancing talk time and the value of the contributionComing March 29: Virtual Blowhards
Controlling meeting blowhards is difficult enough in face-to-face meetings, but virtual meetings present next-level problems, because techniques that work face-to-face are unavailable. Here are eight tactics for controlling virtual blowhards. Available here and by RSS on March 29.
kudzu enveloping a Mississippi landscapeAnd on April 5: Listening to Ramblers
Ramblers are people who can't get to the point. They ramble, they get lost in detail, and listeners can't follow their logic, if there is any. How can you deal with ramblers while maintaining civility and decorum? Available here and by RSS on April 5.

Coaching services

I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenowCxwHFkieDGiNouner@ChacHjdUskuRmAwkuxwwoCanyon.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

Changing How We Change: The Essence of Agility
MasteChanging How We Change: The Essence of Agilityry of the ability to adapt to unpredictable and changing circumstances is one way of understanding the success of Agile methodologies for product development. Applying the principles of Change Mastery, we can provide the analogous benefits in a larger arena. By exploring strategies and tactics for enhancing both the resilience and adaptability of projects and portfolios, we show why agile methodologies are so powerful, and how to extend them beyond product development to efforts of all kinds. Read more about this program. Here are some upcoming dates for this program:

Conflict Resolution Skills for Leaders
ConflConflict Resolution Skills for Leadersict is inherent in collaborative work. When conflict is constructive, it produces better outcomes. When it's destructive, it can be an insurmountable obstacle to success. In this program, we explore the connections between the outcomes of collaboration and conflict in both of its forms. And we emphasize the skills needed most by leaders. The leader's task is to manage conflict so as to ensure that the group achieves its objective with its capacity to collaborate intact, or even enhanced. Rick Brenner shows team leaders and team sponsors the techniques they need to manage team conflict for relationship safety and better outcomes. Read more about this program. Here's an upcoming date for this program:

Influencing Outcomes Without Authority
Your Influencing Outcomes Without Authorityability to influence others — whether upward, downward, laterally, or within a team — always depends on both the quality of your relationships with the people you influence, and on your perception and their perception of your personal power. In this program, Rick Brenner shows you the techniques for making things happen not by using formal organizational power, but by using informal, personal power. Read more about this program. Here's an upcoming date for this program:

Strategies for Leading Teams in Hard Times
When Strategies for Leading Teams in Hard Timesa project team is on task, the contributions of leaders are important, and little noticed. Sometimes the team encounters unexpected difficulty, or requirements change, or budgets are reduced, or any of a number of other things might happen. In these cases, the leader must make or facilitate decisions about how to respond or how to revise the plan. We get through it somehow. Hard times are something else altogether. Despondency, disillusionment, resource shortages, unexpected and severe failure of the plan, and toxic conflict can erode morale. How can leaders deal with such situations? Read more about this program. Here's an upcoming date for this program:

Strategies for Technical Debt: A Workshop for Enterprise Leaders
TechnTechnical Debt Management for Enterprise Leadersical debt is more than mere IT jargon. It's a metaphor that refers to the accumulation of technical artifacts that really ought to be retired, replaced, rewritten, re-implemented, or, if absent, created. We can find technical debt in almost any system, including those that seem to be working well. So what's the problem? The problem is the "interest charges." Systems carrying technical debt are more difficult to maintain, more difficult to extend or enhance, and more difficult to use, than they would be if we "retired" the debt. This engaging and eye-opening program points the way to a path that leads your organization out of technical debt, to make it more adaptable, more transformable, and more agile. Read more about this program. Here's an upcoming date 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 an upcoming date for this program:

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's an upcoming date for 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.