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

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