Change Implementation Techniques for Creating a Sense of Urgency

Technique 2.66 Time Management

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. The Rhythm of Life (Circadian Clock - daily rhythms of day and night)

organisational development change management

(source: Karen Wright, 2002)

. The key to successful management is the possession of good time management skills. In fact, time management is about being organised!!!!! A better name for time management is self-management of time

".Time has become to the 21st century what fossil fuels and precious metals were to previous epochs."

Gary Stix, 2002

. In the western culture, time is money!!!!!!!

"...the whole notion of time has changed and so has the way we think about it......Western culture views time - as linear and a scarce resource and getting the most out of it. Time is valuable..."

Carl Honore as quoted by Catherine Fox, 2004d

. One of the most important decisions any senior manager can make is how they spend their time, especially around the areas of management of operations, capital allocation and investor relations. Some of the best performing managers keep away from day to day responsibilities. Instead, they remain free to work on whatever is in the best interest of the organisation at any time. They remain flexible to handle the uncertain times.

. Yesterday is history

"...Imagine there is a bank which credits your account each morning with $86,400. It carries no balance from day-to-day, allows you to keep no cash balance and every evening cancels whatever part of the amount you have failed to use during the day.

What would you do? Draw every cent of course! Well, everyone has such a bank. Its name is TIME. Every morning it credits you with 86,400 seconds. Every night it writes off, as lost, whatever of this you have failed to invest to good purpose. It carries over no balance. It allows no overdraft. Each day is a new account for you. Each night it burns the remains of the day. If you fail to use the day's deposits the loss is yours. There is no going back. There is no drawing against tomorrow. You must live in the present on today's deposits. Invest so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness and success. The clock is running. Make the most of today.

To realise the value of one year, ask a person with a terminal illness. To realise the value of one month, ask a wage labourer who has children to feed. To realise the value of one hour, ask the lovers who are waiting to meet. To realise the value of one minute, ask the person who missed the train. To realise the value of one second, ask a person who has avoided an accident. To realise the value of one millisecond, ask the person who won a silver medal in the Olympics. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it's called the present..."


. Time management is about personal productivity, task management and behavioural changes.

- personal productivity is about getting more done in the time available

- people deal with tasks in different ways. Some people (generally men) like to handle tasks in a linear way, ie completing one task before starting another (called monochron). Others (generally women) like to juggle their time between a series of tasks, flitting backwards and forwards (called polychron). The latter can handle interruptions better than the former. When the 2 types to work together, they need to understand how the other works to avoid conflict. For example, managers (monochronic thinkers) and researchers (polychronic thinkers) need to understand each other's approach to time when they work together. Remember: planning time requires closure, while development time is open-ended and can extend far into the future


"...monochronic time controls human behaviour and is therefore well-suited to situations that require highly coordinated actions......because this form of time facilitates coordination, it is well-suited to the management of large systems and is the form of time taken for granted in most organisations and the only way to get things done efficiently. Polychronic time assumptions are more effective for building relationships and for solving complex problems where information is widely scattered and highly interactive so that all channels must be kept open at all times. Polychronic time is therefore more suitable for the early stages of an organisation, for smaller systems, and organisations where one person is the central point of coordination..."

Edgar Schein, 2004

Also, it is claimed by some creative thinking experts, such as Edward deBono, that polychron behaviour helps with creativity as revisiting a task can encourage thinking about different ways of doing it

- we are creatures of habits and changing habits or behaviours of a lifetime is not easy. For example, the New Year's resolution is traditionally honored by breaking it within days of making it!!!!

"...changing managerial behaviour is difficult even if managers know why they should change, how to change and the direction in which to change. The answer to this conundrum seems to be to keep the change very simple and very small......mostly simplicity seems to work best. Adopting new time-saving behaviours should involve very few and very small steps......getting long-term commitment to behavioral change is not easy, but it seems to work best if managers select a technique that suits them.. Basically, discipline is needed to change habitual behaviours..."

Harry Onsman, 2004d

. Remember that time is not linear but our age is a basis for estimating time intervals, ie

"...the apparent length of an interval of the given epoch of a man's life is proportional to the length of life itself..."

Paul Janet as quoted by Brad Howarth, 2007

Thus our earlier years are stretched out, while later years (which represent a diminishing proportion of our lives) are shorter. Furthermore, faster time perception was associated with better psychological functioning as measured by fewer instances of clinical depression, an enhanced sense of purpose and control, and the perception of being younger.


· It has become the default position of many lives but feels as elementary and as uncontrollable as weather

· It causes the prefrontal cortex (the thinking part of the brain) to shrink and lets the amygdale (the part of the brain with negative emotions like fear, aggression and anxiety) dominate. On the other hand, we feel important, if we are always busy as it suggests status, ie

"...The more you do, the more you matter, or so the reigning culture script goes..."

Brigid Schulte as quoted by Jennifer Howard, 2014

Planned breaks

"...'wasting time' can feel like a productivity killer, but thoughtful and constructive time out can improve focus and boost energy......the work day can be a daunting mental and physical challenge, especially if you want to perform your best throughout the day. In addition to finding your optimal work hours, taking multiple breaks can increase your productivity all day long. Our workaholic culture tends to villainise time-wasting behaviours during work - such as leisurely lunches and web browsing - but research proves that breaks can enhance performance on many levels..." 

Aytekin Tank 2019 

Brief periods of distraction have shown to improve decision-making and creativity. On the other hand, prolonged attention to a single task can hinder performance.

Waking periods of mental rest can improve memory formation as during these rest periods, your brain reviews and ingrains what it has previously learnt. Without rest, you run the risk of experiencing "in one ear, out the other". 

Need to include planned, right types of breaks throughout the day; these include 

- brain breaks (rest your prefrontal cortex as this is part of the brain dedicated to logical thinking, executive functioning and using willpower to override impulses. Some methods include letting your mind wander like daydreaming, zoning out, meditating. This will increase the focus and give your brain a break) 

- physical activity (regular breaks like 5-minutes of walking every hour can improve your health and mental well-being 

"...mental wellness is critical on a personal and a professional level because research shows that happier workplaces are more productive..." 

Aytekin Tank 2019

Also, prolonged sitting is bad for you.

Walking will boost creativity. Research has shown that people exploring mental tasks require imagination, and that walking, rather than sitting, will lead to more creative thinking. It is interesting to note that many accomplished novelists  and poets like Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf, Henry David Thoreau, William Wordsworth, etc used walking to help them think.

- social breaks and informal meetings ( taking a break with others is important for personal and professional well-being as social connectivity reinforces bonds, improves morale and productivity, and increases opportunities for collaboration. Many of these social breaks allow people to engage in productive conversations about on-the-job challenges, etc

- taking a break in a natural environment (this can significantly increase employee well-being, reduce stress, enhance innovative potential and strengthen personal connections, ie 

Time in nature dramatically improves our abilities to think expansively and to make better decisions. Also it makes us more helpful, like noticing when others need help and providing that help. Many companies, like Google, Facebook, etc now have prioritised plant life in office designs 

- snack breaks (they are a great way to refresh and recharge your brain during the working day. Your brain works best with a consistent blood glucose level, ie 25 grams is optimal) 

- web surfing (browsing the Internet serves an important restorative function of the brain, eg a mini break spent shopping online can revive you for the next task) 

- productive (even though the most effective break is giving your prefrontal cortex a rest, it still should be linked to learning something new or reflecting on the big picture or making positive connections with others, etc) 

How long should the break be? 

Need to plan your day so that includes dedicated work and constructive break times. 

Based on research with musicians ( Aytekin Tank 2019), you should take a break every 75 to 90 minutes as this takes advantage of the brain's 2 modes, ie learning, or focusing and consolidation. The break helps the brain consolidate information and retain it better.

Another approach suggested working for 25 minutes before taking a 5-minute break.

You need to use trial and error to figure out what best works for you. 

Encourage people to take breaks by providing pleasant break-spaces including available snacks, drinks, plant life, walking paths, etc 

Allocation of manager's time.

 When working we waste most of our time by doing work that is not adding value to the customer/client. . Most managers waste more than 50% of their time doing "re-work" and "non value-adding work"

To improve time management, need to understand how managers spend their time. Research on time management demonstrates that managers allocate their time as follows

"...- around 50% of their time in meetings

- more time in scheduled meetings than in unscheduled meetings

- between 25% and 30% of their time on desk work

- around 6% of their time on the telephone

- about half their working time in their offices

- about a quarter of their time in other people's offices..."

Harry Onsman, 2004d

. Furthermore, we need to understand what activities are under the control of the manager and what kind of activities, if managed better from a time point of view, would generate the greatest payback. Based on this analysis, the activities to prioritise are

- scheduled and unscheduled meetings (can use3 broad strategies such as better process, fewer meetings and shorter meetings

i. better process, ie review any process that is holding back meeting efficiency by

- sticking to the agenda

- deal with items quickly, ie time limits on discussion items

- meeting starts on time, ie lateness is not tolerated

- be prepared to challenge traditional ways of handling meetings, such as raise issues and get them addressed quickly and/or set aside any issue not on the agenda for another meeting

- send out briefing papers to attendees before the meeting

ii. fewer meetings, ie as many regular meetings are unnecessary, their relevance, usefulness and value-added aspects should be reviewed continually;

iii. shorter meetings, ie need to check if delegating effectively and if people are accepting individual accountability for their decisions or are they using the team as an excuse not to delegate and/or accept accountability for decisions, ie using meetings as a way to "spread the blame" for decisions. Only items that require group decisions should be put on the agenda.

Furthermore, need to check that meetings are not just simply communication sessions and meetings are performing the correct function. Need to ask the question: Can we handle this in a more effective way?

- managing desk work - challenge is to reduce time spent on the urgent things and spend more time on the important activities, ie task prioritisation, eliminate double handling of paperwork and rework (redoing somebody else's work)

- any activity in somebody else's office - need to ask the question: Can we handle this in a more effective way?

- increasing need for "thinking time"

To do list

Can use digital tools, like "wanderlist" or the more traditional "pen and paper" list

Problems with to-do lists

- not enough discipline to prioritise tasks. Unfortunately the quicker, less effective tasks are usually prioritise first because they are easier and require less self-control; the harder ones remain at the bottom of the list and are less likely to be done

- don't discriminate between the type of thinking that different tasks require

- not understanding that the brain is suited to different types of thinking depending on the time of the day, ie

"...people may start the day fresh and rested, but as they exert self-control over the course of the day, their powers may diminish..."

Roy Baumeister as quoted by Amantha Imber 2019

(NB when people exert self-control, they are depleting their energy levels, ie self-control is like a muscle that gets tired)

Based on how your brain works, need to split your to-do list into 4 separate ones, ie

i) focused (analytical thinking that requires deep concentration and generally longer bursts of time. This should be done in the morning as it requires high cognitive capacity when the brain is fresh)

ii) creative (this requires our brain to be less vigilant and open to breaking rules; this is best done in non-optimal times like in the afternoon when our brain is "looser and carefree")

iii) foggy (sometimes called the "post lunch dip", ie

"...many of us find ourselves  less cognitively alert straight after lunch or during a mid-afternoon slump..."

Amantha Imber 2019

This is a good time to do "shallow work", ie checking in and responding to e-mails, making phone calls and doing repetitive or non-challenging tasks)

iv) fast (during "idle time", like between meetings, do tasks that will only take a couple of minutes)

Handling emails (3 Ws)

. When - schedule a particular time to look at emails, eg first thing in the morning, lunchtime and end of day

. What ‐ make a decision on how to handle, 4 Ds

i) Delete

ii) Deal with immediately (takes 2 minutes)

iii) Delegate to others

iv) Decide, ie keep it where it is, when to handle, etc

. Wait - store with reminder when to handle

NB It is about behaviours

Questionnaire (self-assessment)

Assess your time management skills by responding to the following statements. Circle the options that are closest to your experience. Be as honest as you can. The options are:

1. never

2. occasionally

2. frequently

4. always

If some of the statements do not apply to you, you need not answer them. Use your answers to identify the areas that need improvement; remember that there is always room for improvement.

Q1. I arrive on time and prepare for meetings

1 Never

2 Occasionally

3 Frequently

4 Always

Q2. I ensure that a clock is visible where meetings held.





Q3. The meetings I organise achieve their purpose





Q4. The meetings I organise finish on time





 Q5. I open my mail as soon as it arrives on my desk.





Q6. I "skim-read" any relevant newspaper and magazine articles





Q7. I delete my name from the circulation list of magazines and journals I do not read





Q8. I read my faxes/Emails on the day on which I receive them





Q9. I am able to complete tasks without interruptions from colleagues





Q10. I decide how many times I can be interrupted in a day





Q11. I reserve certain hours for visits from colleagues





Q12. I close my office door when I want to think strategically





Q12. I tell telephone callers that I will return their calls, and do so





Q14. I limit the duration of my phone calls





Q15. I allow a colleague or secretary or PA to screen my telephone calls





Q16. I decide how many telephone calls I can deal with personally in a day





Q17. I "skim-read" internal memos as soon as I receive them





Q18. I read internal memos thoroughly later





Q19. I keep the contents of my in-tray to a manageable size





Q20. I clear my desk of all paperwork





Q21. I delegate tasks to colleagues even though I could do them myself





Q22. I follow-up on the work I have delegated





Q22. I encourage staff to limit their reports to one A4 sheet of paper





Q24. I consider who needs to know the information I am circulating





Q25. I achieve the right balance between thinking time and action time





Q26. I make a list of things to do each day





Q27. I make an effort to keep in touch personally with my staff





Q28. I restrict work to a certain number of hours every day - and no more





Q29. I concentrate on the positive attributes of each of my colleagues





Q30. I make sure I know about the latest information technology





Q31. I store e-mail messages to read later on





Q32. I perform housekeeping checks on my computer files






Now you have completed the self-assessment, add up your total score and check your performance by reading the corresponding evaluation. Whatever level of successful time management you have achieved, it is important to remember that there is always room for improvement. Identify your weakest areas and develop ways to improve performance

Score 32 - 64

Learn to use your time more efficiently, and reduce the time you spend working in unproductive and labour-intensive ways

Score 65 - 95

You have reasonable time-management skills, but need to improve

Score 96 - 128

You use your time efficiently, but keep looking for new ways to further streamline your work practices

Issues Identified - Time Management






General Background to Time Management


. Time management is "self-management of time"

. Definitions

- time has been described as the occurrence of events one after another

- management is the art of juggling competing imperatives

- time management involves controlling events

. There are 5 types of events

i. there are events we cannot control, such as weather patterns

ii. there are events we think we cannot control, but we can, such as traffic jam, ie find another way or travel at another time

iii. there are events we can control, but don't, often due to procrastination

iv. there are events we think we can control, but we can't, such as a train arriving on time

v. there are events we can control, such as our own behaviour patterns

"...the common factor that all successful people that they know what is important and that they know where to spend their time..."

Peter Drucker as quoted by Brian Greedy, 2003


1 What are your 3 most critical time-management problems?




2 How many minutes per day do you spend on planning? (circle the most appropriate one)



1 - 10

11- 20

21 - 30

30 +

3 How much time do you use to prioritise activities? (circle the most appropriate one)



1 - 10

11- 20

21 - 30

30 +

4 Successful people have the ability to focus on their vital priorities. For example, list your activities under the following headings

A (vital to you, your position and organisation)

B (important but not as important as As)

C (some value)

D (complete waste of time!!)

List some





Compare your results with others in your group as a reality check

Another way to do this is to complete this table



Not vital/Not Important


1 (Quadrant of Personal Leadership)

3 (Quadrant of Deception)

Not urgent

2 (Quadrant of Quality)

4 (Quadrant of Waste)

Comments on the matrix

The tasks in Box 1 are the highest priority and generally should be completed first

The tasks in Box 2 will generally take time and be complex. On the other hand, the tasks in this box provide the best pay-offs

The tasks in Box 3 often have higher priority than those in Box 2. If they are relatively small, you may wish to do these sooner rather than later

The tasks in Box 4 may not require any action at all

The hardest tasks to do are those that are vital but not urgent

An example



Not vital/Not Important



Pressing problem

Deadline-driven project, meeting, etc

Interruptions, some phone calls

Some mail, some reports

Some meetings

Many popular activities, etc

Not urgent



Values clarification


Relationship building

Empowerment, etc


Junk mail

Some phone calls

Time wasters

Escape activities, etc


People who have worked out the most suitable work-life balance for themselves are able prioritise their life and focus on the high priority areas, especially in work. As result they do not waste time on low priority areas.

More tips on time management
- look at them in blocks of time, preferably twice a day
- turn-off auto signal to inform you that you have an e-mail
- have a conversation on the phone or face-to-face instead of using e-mail
- have stand-up meetings
- reduce all meetings to maximum of 1 hour
- have an agenda
- excuse yourself from meetings whenever possible
Saying No
- learn to say no to unreasonable request
- don't take on a new project unless it fits clearly with your goals
Plan your day
- plan your day tomorrow.... and every day after
Take breaks
- to assist your focus: 25 min of concentrated effort, followed by a 5-minute break

Goal setting


. Goal setting is an important part of time management.

. Focus on goals that are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and targeted)

. Use stretch goals to "push yourself"

. Goals should be aligned, ie fit with personal, unit (division/region/branch, etc) and organisational objectives

. Use short- and medium-term goals to achieve long-term goals

Benefits of goal setting

. Provides self-image, ie improves us today and makes us better for tomorrow

. Makes us aware of the strengths that can be used to overcome obstacles and provide solutions to problems

. Creates awareness of weaknesses, so that we can work to turn them into strengths.

. Gives people confidence

. Individual frustration levels are quickly lowered when structure and direction replace vague ideas and doubts

. Evaluation and goals provide a sense of past victories to deliver the stimulus for present and future successes

. Written goals help us to visualize the results we want to achieve

. Goals setting allows us to set priorities to establish the most effective direction of our activities

. Specific goals are the first positive, overt step to success

. Goals setting reduces possibilities for day-dreaming and wishful thinking. It properly separates and defines the various roles we must play

. Goals setting makes people responsible for their own lives

. Goals serve as criteria against which to sharpen decision-making. Decisions are always made in the light of some criteria or standards. If the standards have not been defined, decisions will often be made in terms of immediate pressures

Effective goals

. Must be important to you, ie need our buy-in

. Have specific end result(s)

. Have specific time frame(s)

. Add value

. Are compatible or harmonious with a big picture

. Are challenging

. Are written to enhance clarification

. Are shared

. Can be visualized

. Are reviewed regularly











Why some people are more effective

. The reasons some people are more effective than others despite having similar expertise, talent and/or experience are that they

- assume a positive attitude to work and personal life

- have a full understanding of their life goals and objectives

- seek to balance their life

- have the motivation to overcome procrastination

- align weekly and daily goals to their life goals and objectives

- continuously seek to find new and better ways to do things

- have developed techniques for getting more done

- are able to objectively analyse and troubleshoot their performance

- are aware of their strengths and weaknesses

- are able to concentrate effectively

. In order to improve personal effectiveness, you need to be able to self-analyse the past, especially your behaviours, ie learn from the past

Time wasters

The most obvious time wasters are

. Meetings

. Lengthy phone calls

. Lengthy visitor stays

. Procrastination

. Rework

. Interruptions

Strategies for reducing meeting time

. When you are in charge

- double preparation time and cut meeting time in half

- always use a written agenda

- commit to starting and ending "on-time"

- see that only the people who need to be there are there

- assign someone to record recommendations, decisions and actions

- question the value of regularly scheduled meetings

- hold the meetings standing up

- meet in someone else's office

- convey information to others in writing rather than in a meeting

- limit verbosity

- convene meetings in late afternoons

- schedule meetings for late in the week

When you are not in charge

- prior to the meeting

i. ask for an agenda to better prepare for meeting

ii. ask for starting and ending times

iii. predetermine the need for your presence in all or part of the meeting

iv. prepare well for meetings

v. recommend a recorder (minutes secretary) be assigned

- if the meeting is becoming unnecessarily long

i. ask "is there any further contribution I can make to this meeting?"

ii. ask to be excused

iii. open your planner and do some planning or diary writings

iv. sit at the back of room and slip out when the meeting is no longer productive for you

Some other comments on ways to make meetings more time effective and productive

. Agenda linked

- Have an agenda with time limits on each item

- Schedule another time for items raised that are not on the current agenda

- Send out agenda/reports/briefing papers, etc days before meeting to all attendees

- Only discuss issues relevant to all attendees

- Reduce "group think" & members dominating (first impression) by asking everyone to write down a brief summary of their views on each agenda item before the meeting

- Meeting starts on time

- Use a process like "6 thinking hats" (see below and later)

- Someone allocated role to keep process under review during the meeting

- Develop an agreed-to action plan

- Have scheduled breaks (food, air, water, etc) to re-charge brain

- If nothing to discuss at scheduled meeting ‐ don't have it

- Any controversial issues are last agenda items


- Vary between methods of presenting like visual, auditory & kinetic, etc

- Hold meetings in late afternoon &/or late in week (never early morning)

- Set specific days/times for meetings

- Appropriate people attending, ie delegate

- Adequate sleep before meeting

- Turn off mobile phones

- Cultural differences

- Use video-conferencing, etc techniques to reduce/eliminate travel time

- Don't dwell on the past (other than to learn from it), as more chance to impact on present and future

- One person talking, ie talking stick

- Make people stand

Process use the 6 thinking, "coloured" hats that help structure a meeting so that it is more productive

i) White (factual information gathering)

ii) Red (emotion, feelings, intuition, gut feeling)

iii) Green (creative thinking, other possibilities, ideas, imagination)

iv) Black (risks, caution, dangers, critical appraisal, what can go wrong)

v) Yellow (benefits, advantages, good points, optimism, potential)

vi) Blue (defining goals & thinking process plus overview, summary)


Interruptions consume around 2.1 hours or 28 percent of a workday. Furthermore, once interrupted it takes an average of 25 minutes to return to the task; in 15 percent of cases staff do not return to the interrupted task. One way to handle this is to give the person interrupting you a couple of minutes to speak, and then you decide whether to deal with the problem now or later on. Furthermore, make a rule that you will not discuss any problem unless the person has some possible solutions.

You should schedule some "uninterruptible" time when you close your office door, send your phone calls to voice mail and ignore your e-mails, etc.

Remember to leave your work at the office!!!!!!

"Tips for Controlling the Clock"

Listed below is a compilation of time management goals. They have been organised into 10 categories to help in your planning.

You are encouraged to select from this list 8 or 10 goals that will be of the greatest help to you. Prioritise the list, ie vital, important, some value and complete waste of time, and write them on a piece of paper that is kept in your diary and/or office so that you can refer to it frequently.

As you prepare each daily action list, include at least one of the time management goals on your list.

Preoccupation ‐ Alertness/Energising

. Cultivate observation.

. Think with a pencil in hand

. Periodically remind yourself - think alertly.

. Do a job right the first time.

. Reduce preoccupation time.

. Locate energy losses.

. Release natural drives by doing what you enjoy.

. Establish and maintain a balanced exercise program.

. Be highly selective in what you read.

. Set up a systematic program for reading.

. Double your speed of reading.

. Read a book like a newspaper.

. Do one thing at a time.

. Use blank spaces in your time.

. Keep a writing pad directly accessible. Draw pictures and diagrams as you explain a point to visitors.

. Replace writing letters longhand with a dictating machine.

. Give letters into a dictating machine instead of directly to a secretary.

. Move your home closer to work, or work closer to home to reduce commuting time if applicable.

. Instead of bringing 2 or 3 individuals in from different parts of the country for a brief meeting, use the "conference call."

. When explaining an unfamiliar point, make comparisons.

. Be aware of when you are tapering off from peak levels of performance. At that point, shift to another vital priority.

. Be on time to meetings, appointments and scheduled events.

. Reduce the overlong visitor stay, ie explain to unscheduled visitors that you are available only for a limited time.

. Limit the length of telephone calls.

. Accumulate return telephone calls and contact them at a time when the chance of their going through is most likely.

. If you have a secretary, use her/him to screen incoming telephone calls and drop-in visitors.

. Establish a practice of having a colleague interrupt an excessively-long visit

. Establish an appropriate balance between vocational work and management work.

. Retire early and rise early.

. Get the necessary sleep each night, but no more than is necessary.

. Be sensitive to the vital priorities of others around you.

. Simplify, ie KISS principle (Keep it simple, stupid!!!!!)

Communication and Attitude

. Take 100% responsibility when sending or receiving messages to see that communication is secured.

. Ask others, "What can I do to help you make better use of your time?"

. Consistently use sincere positive reinforcers on others.

. Use positive reinforcers on yourself.

. Reduce the use of negative reinforcers on other people.

. Reduce the use of negative reinforcers on yourself.

Delegation ‐ Boss/Staff Relationship

. Earn the support of your boss.

. Enlarge your discretionary time by reducing the time that is imposed by staff and others.

. Instead of staff bringing you problems, have them bring you answers/suggestion/solutions.

. Analyse your performance by considering:

- what am I doing now that doesn't need to be done by me or anyone else?

- what am I doing that others can do?


. Hold meetings standing up to make them shorter.

. Double preparation time for meetings and cut meeting times in half.

. Have only those people in the meeting who need to be there.

. Maintain a strict contract agreement as to when a meeting will start and end. End the meeting on or before the agreed time.

. Avoid holding a regularly scheduled meeting and see if it makes a difference.

. Use a carefully prepared agenda in all meetings.

. When in a meeting where your time is being wasted, ask the leader, "Is there any other contribution I can make to this meeting?"

. Discuss with the meeting leader in advance where you will be on the agenda and have them move you up if possible.

Physical Work Area, Organising

. Organise your office

. Organise papers into "vital, important, some value and complete waste of time" stacks.

. Clear your desk each afternoon before you leave work.

. Keep the desk completely clear of clutter. (Have on your desk only what you are working on)

. If possible, handle papers only once.

Planning, Daily

. Take more time for systematic planning each day.

. Prioritise an action list for each day, ie vital, important, some value and complete waste of time

. Keep long-range prioritised written goals in your diary and refer to them each time a daily action list or unassigned action list is prepared. There are 3 types:

- time-management goals

- personal goals with the company

- personal life goals

. Make a list of the comfort ideas, people, physical locations, reading, actions, food to which you gravitate that are inappropriate.

. Do at least 3 things daily which force you out of your comfort zone.

Planning, Long-Range

. By a specified date, write, refine and prioritise your unifying principles. Evaluate your personal performance in the context of these principles.

. Review the mission and goals of the company and department at designated times.

. Write, refine and prioritise personal goals with the company by a date.

. Refine your goals against a defined standard of excellent performance.

. Refine all written goals, making them achievable, specific and measurable.

. Specify long-range goals as far into the future as you can anticipate.

. Write personal goals with a balanced perspective so that they include professional, financial, physical/recreational, social, intellectual-cultural and spiritual needs and interests. Refine and prioritise these goals.

. Write sub-goals to the life goals by raising the question, "How can I cause each of these goals to eventuate?"

. Build continuity in goal planning by preparing monthly and weekly goals from long-range goals and the daily action list from all of these.

. Occasionally ask, "What is the greatest threat to my survival professionally, socially, spiritually, financially, intellectually and physically?"

How to Avoid Procrastination

. Write a prioritised daily action list under "to be done today"

. Refer to longer range goals when preparing the prioritised daily action list

. Break-up overwhelming "As" (top priorities) into workable chunks

. Make sure the "A1" task is accessible

. Chain yourself to the task until "A" is done

. Anticipate interruptions that divert you from "As"

. Turn the difficult task into a game

. Select the best time of the day for the type of work required

. Allow flexibility

. Commit to a deadline

. Use a personalised reward system

Set a deadline for each task.

. Prioritise an action list every day, seven days a week, in your diary.

. Chain yourself to the desk until the overwhelming vital priority is finished.

. Do the most vital tasks now!

. Use your secretary or others to reinforce your vital priorities.

. Turn the difficult task into a game.

. Select the best time of day for the type of work required.

. Allow some open space daily for flexibility.

. When you bog down, leave the project until your energies are renewed.

. Do the most difficult of the vital tasks first.

. Stay with the vital task until it is done.

. Don't sit on projects.

. Institute a personal quiet hour.

Results, Achieving with Goals

. Accept what you cannot change as a fact of life.

. Carry out goals that are achievable.

Time Wasters and Triviality, Reducing

. Say "no" when a request is not vital.

. Note and determine what routines might be changed to advantage.

. Reduce socialising time.

. Limit TV viewing to the "vital few."

More Tips on How to Improve Time Management

. Meetings

- focus on improving meeting processes

- get agreement on how to improve meeting processes

- review meetings' necessity

- make meeting purpose explicit

- justify the need for group decisions as opposed to individual decision-making and accountability

- look for alternatives to meetings for getting things done

Remember: time can't be controlled, can't be stopped and can't create more of it but we can make better use of it.

Most meetings are inefficient, eg not a lot gets accomplished, attend meetings that they don't need to be at or have repeat meetings because a regional meeting was ineffective

The 5 key questions to improving meetings (HeadScratcher, 2017)

  1. i) What is the purpose of the meeting and what is the expected outcome? (is the purpose to solve a problem, provide information, and general discussion, etc? Is the outcome a list of discoveries, solution or knowledge sharing, etc?)
  2. ii) Who should be invited to the meeting and why? (each person should know why they are invited, including what their contribution should be so that they can come prepared and play the appropriate role)

iii) Can the purpose of the meeting be accomplished without having a meeting? (answers to i) & ii) will determine whether other forms of communications might be more suitable than a meeting, like e-mail, text. tc)

  1. iv) Develop a plan with action items that have ownership, are clear, achievable, etc? (determine what follow-up is required)
  2. v) How do you measure the success of the meeting? (by measuring there is a better chance of focusing on the meeting's goals. measurement might include

- Did we accomplish that goal(s)?

- Were the right people at the meeting?

- Was a meeting necessary?

- Is there a defined follow-up, ie action plan?

Or alternatively ask the following questions with yes/no answers

- Was the goal of the meeting clear?

- Did the meeting accomplish that goal?

- Was my presence in the meeting worth it?

- Is the next step after the meeting clear?

It is estimated that following the above process can reduce meeting times by 25% and make them more effective (HeadScratcher, 2017)

. E-mails

- the aim is to handle each e-mails only once. Achieve this by discarding or delegating or doing (now) or dating (when you will do it), drawering (immediately filed) or deterring (from returning to you again).

- ideally you should only look at e-mails 3 times a day, ie first thing in the morning, around lunchtime and then at the end of the working day. More frequent looking at e-mails should only occur if an urgent message is expected.

. Desk work

- rate all tasks and activities according to the urgent vs. important grid, ie the urgent and important; important but not urgent; the urgent but not important; not urgent and not important

- if it helps, use descriptive tags that emphasize the meaning of the rating, ie

A = absolute priority;

B = neglected essentials;

C = trivial hot potatoes;

D = time wasters

- review why you are doing anything with a D rating

- prioritise first with the ABCD rating, and then prioritize numerically each item within each rating to generate a sequence for tackling tasks

- eliminate double-handling of paperwork, ie use BARF (bin, act, refer, file) system of 4 action options that relate to any piece of paper that comes your way

- deal faster with the paperwork by changing how it is handled, ie change from letter to memo; from memo to e-mail; from e-mail to phone call

- prioritize further as it suits your style:

i) today before tomorrow

ii) strategic before operational

iii) easy before hard

iv) cheap before expensive

v) facts before opinions

vi) customers before others

vii) permanent fix before temporary fix

vii) big impact before small impact

. Activities that happen in other people's offices

- stay in your office unless you have a reason to go elsewhere

- remember the impact on others of you visiting them

- list productive things that require you to go elsewhere (if something crops up that is not on that list, delay it or don't do it or, as last resort, add it to the list )

- make scheduled visits only

- put limits on the time spent with others

- maximise time use with key people by using agendas and checklists

(sources: Andrew Short, 2002; Brian Greedy, 2003; Gary Stix, 2002; Time Power, 1994; Harry Onsman, 2004b; Piers Dudgeon, 2001; Harry Onsman, 2004d; Edgar Schein, 2004; Toddi Gutner, 2008 Cass Sunstein, 2014)


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