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.
Then 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
but you can't
find the time,
- 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.
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More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:
- Email Antics: II
- Nearly everyone complains that email is a time waster. Yet much of the problem results from our own
actions. Here's Part II of a little catalog of things we do that help waste our time.
- Take Any Seat: II
- In meetings, where you sit in the room influences your effectiveness, both in the formal part of the
meeting and in the milling-abouts that occur around breaks. You can take any seat, but if you make your
choice strategically, you can better maintain your autonomy and power.
- Fill in the Blanks
- When we conceal information about ourselves and our areas of responsibility, we make room for others
to speculate. Speculation is rarely helpful. It's wise to fill in the blanks.
- Confirmation Bias: Workplace Consequences Part I
- We continue our exploration of confirmation bias, paying special attention to the consequences it causes
in the workplace. In this part, we explore its effects on our thinking.
- Deciding to Change: Trusting
- When organizations change by choice, people who are included in the decision process understand the
issues. Whether they agree with the decision or not, they participate in the decision in some way. But
not everyone is included in the process. What about those who are excluded?
See also Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness for more related articles.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming October 12: Downscoping Under Pressure: II
- We sometimes "downscope" projects to bring them back on budget and schedule when they're headed for overruns. Downscoping doesn't always work. Cognitive biases like the sunk cost effect and confirmation bias can distort decisions about how to downscope. Available here and by RSS on October 12.
- And on October 19: Bullying by Proxy: I
- The form of workplace bullying perhaps most often observed involves a bully and a target. Other forms are less obvious. One of these, bullying by proxy, is especially difficult to control, because it so easily evades most anti-bullying policies. Available here and by RSS on October 19.
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