Time Management (Part 1 of 2)

Questions This Guidance Answers: 
  • How do I manage my time?
  • How do I make myself more efficient?
  • How do I manage my calendar?

Time management is a fallacy, we like to say. Time doesn't need you to "manage" it - it's been getting along just fine without you for billions of years. We can't manage time. But what we CAN manage is what we do with that time. And yet, the overwhelming evidence is that managers do NOT "manage what they do with that time." There's a shocking CHASM between our behavior in this area and our knowledge of what to do. In fact, Mark recently blogged on how busy everyone says they are, which irritates him. He looks at their calendars, and there's no EVIDENCE that they're busy. There are vast swaths of unscheduled time!

Peter Drucker, in the first prescriptive chapter of his seminal work, the Effective Executive, says it best (of course): "The output limits of any process are set by the scarcest resource. In the process we call "accomplishment", this is time ... Of the other major resources, money is actually quite plentiful ... People ... one can hire. But one cannot rent, hire, buy or otherwise obtain more time."

So, the question is, how can managers start to become more efficient about using the time that each of us has at our disposal? In fact, that's a great way to state it: STOP disposing of your time! It's not only your most precious resource, it's also your most perishable!

This cast will get you started doing just that.

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Guys It could be me, or you have the


It could be me, or you have the most frstrating password system I have ever encountered. I think I have now registered three time using variations of my name.

A short time ago I re-registered and with the new name and password I was still told "incorrect password".

It is only because I am so very very impressed with your show and stuff I keep trying to get to the members area. So ..... is it me or is it your site?

Steve, I'm sorry our site is causing


I'm sorry our site is causing you frustration. I think I can help you.

In almost all circumstances where someone has had trouble logging in (I can't remember even a single exception), cookies have been the issue.
The Wordpress (blogging software package we're using) requires that you have "cookies" enabled in your browser to login. Can you verify that you have them enabled? If you *do* have cookies enabled and still can't login, you may trying clearing your cookies in your browser, closing the browser, reopen the browser and then try logging in again.

If this doesn't work for you, please send me a private email and we'll work through the issue together.


I have looked forward to your podcast

I have looked forward to your podcast episodes every day, and have made a bit of a ritual of going out for lunch by myself every Tuesday, eating by myself, and listening to the podcast on my ipod.

I have to say, though, I was not happy with this one. I was reasonably interested in the topic, despite its done-to-deathness for me lately, but I was really thrown for a loop by the "to be continued" at the end. I had enjoyed each episode (in recent memory) being self-contained, but this split episode is ... jarring. I can't review it to take notes after first listening to it, and now have to wait til the second one. When I listen to the second one, I presumably will have to listen to a recap of the first part, making reviewing a disjointed experience.

Please consider keeping topics focused on a single podcast. It's much more enjoyable for me.

Steve, I was actually logging in to

Steve, I was actually logging in to write a comment similar to this one. I also found that keeping the entire content on one podcast is easier for me to keep the focus.

So guys, please count my vote to Steve suggestion :)



Steve/Alex, Thanks for the feedback!


Thanks for the feedback! Mark and I always appreciate hearing from folks what works and doesn't work for them.

Although we "try" to keep the podcasts to a single theme on a single podcast, if you go back over time, you'll note that we often cannot. As strong as your feedback was on your point, we receive an equal number of comments about keeping the show's length down in duration. Trying to balance the two is a challenge ... if the show goes too long, we end up breaking it up into two parts to balance the two expressed needs of our listeners.

As difficult as it is, we'll continue to try ... occasionally we won't strike the right balance for everyone. Hopefully you'll forgive us when that happens.


Mike, Mark, I haven't listened to

Mike, Mark,

I haven't listened to this particular podcast yet, but I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate the time and effort that you guys have been putting into them and the knowledge you've shared with everyone. I'm at the point in my career where I'm starting the transition from being a front-line member of staff to having oversight and managerial responsibilities. The information I've gained from listening to the 'casts has been invaluable.

Thanks again,


Thanks, Paul ... I really appreciated

Thanks, Paul ... I really appreciated that!

Paul- Heartfelt thanks for your kind


Heartfelt thanks for your kind words. Glad you're a member - keep us posted on how we're helping you.


Perhaps we can use this as an

Perhaps we can use this as an opportunity to practice our "breathing".

Now... how to customize it for a High D...

Mike, may I give you some feedback?

(for the purposes of the exercise, I’ll assume you say ‘Yes’)

When you miss adding the text “Part 1 of 2” to the title of a 2-part podcast , here’s what happens:

Your listeners don’t know to expect a second portion, so they’re surprised when the podcast ends abruptly. They make comments in your discussion groups, which takes the focus of the site discussions away from the show content, and erodes your credibility, all of which undermines your ability to make Manager Tools a top 10 Podcast.

What do could you do differently?

Any comments on this feedback to Mike? Would anybody have phrased it differently?

By the way, I prefer that you cover the material in greater depth. If that requires a podcast being split in two or three segments, I’m completely in favor of that.

Steven- I can guess how Mike would


I can guess how Mike would answer. He'd say, "thanks for the feedback! It helps us make our shows better. I'll be careful about identifying two parters in the future."

Same thing I would say too!


Steven, Let me add to Mark's


Let me add to Mark's response. I think this is a VERY interesting exercise -- a real life example of feedback and what happens. So, doing my best imitation of a guinea pig, here are my thoughts ...

To be honest, when I initially received the "feedback" from Steve W, my initial reaction wasn't exactly in keeping with how I might normally receive feedback ... it took me a while to figure out WHY. For what it's worth, here are my thoughts after having thought about it a bit:

1. There were a number of emotionally charged words or phrases in the feedback that made it more difficult to accept the feedback ("not happy", "done-to-deathness", "thrown for a loop", "jarring", "now have to wait", "I presumably will have to", "disjointed"). To be sure, some of these phrases were used in a context that clearly wasn't directed at me; however, the point is that I had a negative emotional response to the words chosen (my issue, not Steve's).

2. The focus on the original note was not initially focused on my behavior, but rather on how Steve felt. Let's contrast it with your feedback. You said, "When you miss adding the text 'Part 1 of 2' to the title of a 2-part podcast ...". That was outstanding. I reacted very differently to that in that you were talking about specific behavior vs. "hot being happy". I immediately start focusing on the requested behavior changes vs. the fact that you weren't happy.

3. And clearly, your focus on what drives me, a high-D, made a huge difference. You've laid out how changing my behavior can get me what *I* want, vs. how to make *someone else* happy. [Here's where I'm sure I'll get in trouble for sharing too much info (ugh!)] The fact is, I AM a high D. It's not better, it just is. And how you "feel" doesn't get to me ... especially when I'm asked to modify my behavior to make you feel better (not important to a high D) without any benefit to *me*. Your feedback was phrased in a way that made me *want* to change my behavior because it helps me get what *I* want.

In this case, I actually get a twinge of anger in that I'm being told how I make someone feel without an ACKNOWLEDGEMENT of the results I *am* achieving. The fact that I'm putting in a huge amount of effort for FREE adds to the perceived insult. Now, please note, I absolutely understand that the feedback wasn't intended this way ... I'm not attacking anyone here; I'm simply stating how I felt having received it. How I respond is clearly my issue ... unless, of course, you're trying to influence me ;-)

4. And the last point ... and this applies to your feedback as well ... feedback is given in PRIVATE. My initial reaction to Steve's feedback might have been a bit different had it been in a private email (which is readily available to everyone). What in private is feedback, in public is an "ass-chewing". Now again, I understand it wasn't meant that way (and in your case, you're providing the feedback publicly as an "exercise"). Trying to apply the rules of feedback to public discourse can be a bit difficult.

5. After all that, one final point. Despite the fact that I freely used the term "feedback" in my earlier comments, I'd suggest that NEITHER STEVE W'S OR YOUR SUGGESTIONS WERE "FEEDBACK"! Neither of you used the model (with the exception of ASKING ME and the public nature, you were pretty close). I'd go as far as to say that giving feedback in email (or discussion forums/blogs) is just about impossible. I can't hear your tonality, or see your facial expressions (and if you read the blog, you know how people feel about use of emoticons). And there is so much of communication that happens outside of the words we use. As a matter of fact, Mark can attest to this with a recent example. We had a fairly regular contributor on the discussion forums that Mark attempted to give feedback to via email ... and given that the recipient neither responded well to it and no longer participates on the boards, it obviously didn't work! And Mark is pretty effective at giving feedback! So, the lesson for me is, don't confuse giving feedback with giving suggestions or comments. Feedback can't be given effectively via email (or anything like it). Give suggestions or comments, but don't confuse that with giving feedback. (And to that point, I will no longer ask for "feedback" at the end of our podcasts ... I'll simply ask for comments or suggestions. Asking for "feedback" simply overloads the term "feedback" and does little in helping people understand or use the model.)

NOTE: Mark and I have had fairly lengthy and "vigorous" discussions about the meaning of "feedback" and how in the context of Manager Tools it has a very specific meaning, while in general use, its meaning is fairly broad. Here I'm using it in the MT context.


I enjoyed your podcast. By reading the

I enjoyed your podcast.
By reading the 'replies' I have a feeling that I know what most of the 'replyees' were complaning about. I liked very much that you said on the podcast that you would recomment a manager to have 1 priority, and to delegate the rest of the tasks to somebody else. I think what was missing in this podcast was: that actually you would recommend 2 priorities to a manager. One priority is doing the thing that a manager does best, and the second priority is to 'delegate tasks' to those persons who have the appropriate skills to deal with the tasks.

Take care,

Just a suggestion (not feedback:-) When

Just a suggestion (not feedback:-) When you list 4 and a half steps, could you put them in your show notes?

I've listened to this 'cast twice and have used it to totally rearrange how I plan my work. Thanks, guys.

Good "suggestion" (grin) ... I'll

Good "suggestion" (grin) ... I'll focus on getting better at that.


[...] Anyway - first thing I’m doing is

[...] Anyway - first thing I’m doing is working my way through the Manager Tools podcasts on Time Management; not “Time Management” in the sense that we normally think about it, and that I still have pretty much under control through GTD, but more the “bigger picture” stuff, and sorting out some of my overall priorities. This entry comes while I wait for coffee to brew, and I take a quick break in between the two parts [...]

[...] Time Management part 1

[...] Time Management part 1 [...]

Please forwad me any info that you may

Please forwad me any info that you may have currently available

Lani- I'm


I'm speechless.


[...] Regarding alignment between

[...] Regarding alignment between stated committments and actual time, I was greatly influenced by the May 2006 Manager-Tools podcast on Time Management. [...]

Good Podcast. I def needed this

Good Podcast. I def needed this training...I learned that i need to focus on prioritzing.
Searcy, AR

Recommended Training for my Team

Hi Mike & Mark,

Thanks for the useful information. I'm a new manager and your podcasts have helped me tremendously.

I have a "virtual" team who are all asking for or needing priority management. We're having our regional meeting in which we all get together and I wanted to provide some training for them. I'm not qualified to teach them priority management so I was wondering who you'd recommend? Franklin Covey training seminars?

Thanks again,


IPhone App for Time Audit

I've tried to do the Time Audit by hand several times & never been successful - although I have observed directional findings. I was discussing with one of my directs & thought "wouldn't it be great if there were an IPhone app that allowed you to do an easy time audit?". So I went on a search & FOUND ONE!!

For you IPhone users, check out

"Eternity Time Log"


It allows you to easily create buckets & heirarchies (meetings --> 1:1 vs. team vs. executive etc). Then you just click the bucket for the task you're about to begin (or interruption that has occured) & click START. The clock starts until you hit STOP. Then you can run reports to see how your time is spent & even export via email in a *.csv file.

It costs $7.99 but is well worth it!!




I can't wait to try it!  Thank you.

where is time managment Part 2

I took advantage of your latest email to listen to this podcast, but where is Part 2?  It is not the next one in line as you say (imply?) at the end of the podcast - paraphrasing - "we'll continue with part 2 on our next podcast."   It would be great if you provided links to the other parts of podcasts on the requisite pages.  I think that qualifies more as a suggestion than feedback...  Thanks!


This is one of my favorite podcasts that Manager tools has ever done.  I've listened to it several times.  A couple years ago it inspired me to create this app "Mandy Time Assistant" to help me see where my time is being spent.  And am I doing what I should be doing or just staying busy. The app just came out this past week. Just wanted to share it.  Thanks for inspiring me. 

Jamie Tobler


Many Assistant

Hi Jamie

Thanks for alerting us to this. I'm going to give it a go! I tried paper time tracking a few times and just never managed to see it through. I'll let you know how I get on.



 Thanks Stephanie, If you

 Thanks Stephanie,

If you have any ideas to make it better let me know or you can email mandytimeassistant@gmail.com

Thanks again,


 I could not agree more.

 I could not agree more. I've paid for the interview series and have yet to get the tool downloaded!


i continue to reference the site because of the great podcasts.