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:
- Food for Thought
- Most companies have employee cafeterias, with the usual not-much-better-than-high-school food service.
By upgrading — and subsidizing — food service, these companies can reduce turnover and improve
- Trips to Abilene
- When a group decides to take an action that nobody agrees with, but which no one is willing to question,
we say that they're taking a trip to Abilene. Here are some tips for noticing and preventing trips to Abilene.
- No Tangles
- When we must say "no" to people who have superior organizational power, the message sometimes
fails to get across. The trouble can be in the form of the message, the style of delivery, or elsewhere.
How does this happen?
- Managing 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.
- The Risks of Too Many Projects: II
- Although taking on too many projects risks defocusing the organization, the problems just begin there.
Here are three more ways over-commitment causes organizations to waste resources or lose opportunities.
See also Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness for more related articles.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming January 29: Higher-Velocity Problem Definition
- Typical approaches to shortening time-to-market for new products usually involve accelerating problem solving. Accelerating problem definition can also help. Available here and by RSS on January 29.
- And on February 5: Unrecognized Bullying: I
- Much workplace bullying goes unrecognized. Three reasons: (a) conventional definitions of bullying exclude much actual bullying; (b) perpetrators cleverly evade detection; and (c) cognitive biases skew our perceptions so we don't see bullying as bullying. Available here and by RSS on February 5.
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- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
Many people 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.