Time Management (Part 2 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?

Today, we cover the second in a two-part series of podcasts on Time Management. If you're new to the show or you didn't listen to last week's podcast, it's probably worth while going back and listening to the previous show first. Otherwise, you'll be joining the conversation half-way through and we all know how comfortable that feels. :-(

We recommend 4 1/2 steps to analyzing your use of time

  1. Roughly Assess Your Time - absolutely *no* materials other than pen and paper allowed!
  2. Capture Your Priorities
  3. Do a Rough Analysis
  4. (part b, only for the truly committed) - Do a "Drucker" Analysis
  5. Put Your Number One Priority on Your Calendar

That's it! We walked through steps 1 and 2 last week, today we cover the remainder.

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Mike - I used to believe in you, until

Mike -
I used to believe in you, until the day you used an emoticon in the shownotes. How disappointing. If, of course, you really are Mike . . .

I didn't believe you until I went back

I didn't believe you until I went back and saw it for myself! Oh my God, I need help ... and quick! ;-)

Oops, there I go again ... I'm in big trouble. Must be the cheap coffee I was drinking last night.

I have infected him. He is now lost to

I have infected him. He is now lost to the light side, where things are rosy and bright ALL THE TIME, regardless of facts and reality.

Let us all mourn.


VERY GOOD PODCAST (even if it was

VERY GOOD PODCAST (even if it was splitted in two .. :) ). Can't do the Drucker analysis since I ain't got no assistant yet (working on that).

In your cast, you strongly advise managers to have their time scheduled and I 100% agree. But, the thing is, I found it impossible to schedule 100% of my time (some things just happened). From your point of view, what is the percentage of a manager's time that should be scheduled in advance?

Hope my question is clear (and not useless)



My calendar currently only holds

My calendar currently only holds meetings and 'must-do-today' items. (As suggested by David Allen.) I think I'm going to start by scheduling 90 minutes for my priority (once I figure out what that is) and see how well it works before I try to schedule more time.

For those doing a time assessment, check out these great printable "Emergent Task Timer" forms -- perfect for collecting actual data about how you use your time.

Alex- Thanks for the kind words.


Thanks for the kind words. Mike and I are having some laughs about the podcast length/split "issue."

Schedule 60 - 75% of your time. That leaves you a whole day of unscheduled time, roughly. As you move up, it will creep up to 75 - 90%... and some days you'll be triple booked and there's no way to avoid that.

And remember that this time is not just meetings! In fact, some meetings should be eliminated. Schedule time to work on those key deliverables that you are responsible for...even if it's time at your desk.


[...] This reminds me a bit of a

[...] This reminds me a bit of a podcast on manager tools regarding time management, which basically noted that people are generally more creative more focused concentration between the hours of 7am and 10am. I would agree with this as I do feel as if my mind is at full operating speed during this time. Perhaps it has nothing to do with my finishing my morning coffee during that time. Tags: GTD, podcast, productivity, Random [...]

Great podcasts regarding time

Great podcasts regarding time management. I'm going to give it a try. If I find success, I plan on sharing it with my team members also. Thanks!

Kathleen- Do let us know what you


Do let us know what you find out! Would love to hear that it works. ;-)


This is great material!! I'm new to

This is great material!! I'm new to the podcast (listened to about 5 or 6 now) and I'm also new to management.

I have a question - but first a small bit of background. I hold 6 certifications in Networking and Security and I now lead a group of 10 in this same field (funny how you get good at something and then you get promoted to management). My question is this: Is it really correct to determine your priorities from the tasks that you have performed in the recent past? My concern is that I’ve been a little too interrupt driven and my tasks, even when looked at as you described – may not formulate what I actually should be doing.

[...] Listening to a great podcast here

[...] Listening to a great podcast here about Time Management, I got this sentence: [...]

This is a real service to mankind!

This is a real service to mankind!

Thanks M&M I just thought you might be happy to hear that your work has reached Italy, Rome to be precise.

I am currently catching up with the podcasts but I've already started to change my work life delegating not core rocks and next Monday will be time to start feedbacking like crazy.

Anyway I promise to say you are my mentors only if I will start to receive great compliments.

Are you going to talk about a company vision and how to keep it in the minds of employees and managers?

Keep up the excellent work!


Be The Bartender It's not about what

Be The Bartender

It's not about what you know, it's who you know... and how much you genuinely care about helping out the people you know.

Curt- Thanks for the kind


Thanks for the kind words!

And: great catch. It was NOT our intent to suggest one figure out one's priorities from analyzing one's time spent recently. All that will tell you is what you HAVE been doing, not what you SHOULD be doing.

The time analysis is simply to show us how off we are... and then help us rearrange once we figure what it is we're SUPPOSED to do.


Alberto- Thanks for the kind words!


Thanks for the kind words! Glad you're getting value from the show.

You can tell people we're your mentors before you get praised. (We know we're right.) ;-)

PierGiorgio up in Maranello welcomes you to the Italian contingent!

And, yes, we do have a cast queued up about that very topic!


Great even if in my company we have

Great even if in my company we have only 2 admin assistant for more than 800 people !
I am using your indications to implement the time mgmt considerations (dreaming to have an admin sometimes in the future...) but it is not easy when you have to define strategy and make photocopies and flight arrangements by yourself !
Anyway, as a first reaction, I am starting to refuse or delegate a lot of activities or meetings not strictly related to my/company priorities and this create some space to be rightly allocated.
Glad to see that the italian fellowship is growing (for some I know to be responsible)

First I wanted to thank you two for an

First I wanted to thank you two for an excellent resource done exceptionally well.

I have been a big fan of David Allen and have all the books, tapes, CDs, notebooks, everything but the hat. But the GTD system really only works if you have clear priorities.

I am president of an organic certification company in Japan. Our office has 2 other full time employees and 2 part time employees with 5 virtual teams : 1. France, 2. Germany, 3. U.S. and 4. Canada 5. Canada. Each virtual team is one person from our office and one person from another office.

Organic certification is a service and each client is inspected at the same time once a year. We have a 95% retention rate from year to year.

Much of your information I find directly applicable, however in a small office, job descriptions are long and we have to share responsibilities.

Can you help me refine my priorities from these?

My priorities in order are:

1. That we continue to grow as projected in the budget- my 1. priority, partly delegated to offices in other countries
2. Making sure all the clients are being billed and inspected on time (as budgeted) - delegated to project manager, we have a weekly team meeting
3. That we meet budget (covered in 2, if we are on schedule, we are on budget) - covered in the weekly meeting and confirmed with monthly accounting reports P/L vs. Budget
4. That we maintain our accreditation - delegated to accreditation manager we have a weekly team meeting
5. That we can account for everything: decisions and finances - delegated to accountant, accreditation manager, project manager reviewed with me as certification decisions are made, weekly in our staff meeting, or annually at the annual board meeting
6. That all teams have the tools and support they need to do their job efficiently and effectively - my second priority, reviewed irregularly. Reviewing

I can say this in fewer words:

My priorities are:

1. meeting budget (1, 2, 3)
2. ensuring accountability (5)
2. ensuring consistent client service (4, 6)

Thanks for your help, but whatever you do, please don't ask to see my calendar.

Japanexpert- Thanks for the kind


Thanks for the kind words.

I generally don't answer questions with caveats that limit my ability to help, but I still want to help.

Perhaps we can start with, why can't I have you characterize your calendar?

(I think I see one thing that's NOT on there that ought to be, but I am guessing that I am just missing it.)


[...] 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 [...]

Thanks Mark, I really appreciate all

Thanks Mark, I really appreciate all the time you guys invest in our development.

I didn't have internet the last two days, sorry for the late reply.

Sorry about the calendar comment, I was referring to your statement in the podcast that most executives calendar doesn't jive with their priorities. Mine doesn't either.

If you looked at my calendar, you wouldn't find my priorities clearly identifed. You would find staff meetings, virtual team meetings(conference calls), O3s (started this week) and deadlines for getting regularly scheduled reports completed.

My calendar is online internally and all staff can access it.

Thanks for your help,


Donald- Thanks for the insight.


Thanks for the insight.

One more question. Since you don't have client/revenue growth as a top priority, it's unlikely to get done (since it's clear you're busy). If you're not doing that, and you only sign up 95% of customers as repeat business. how is it that you're not shrinking by 5% per year? Does someone else have that role?


Mark, Thanks for the help. Well,


Thanks for the help.

Well, we had been shrinking. We started as a branch office in 1996 and growth kind of took care of itself. In 2000 we incorporated and roles and responsibilties changed, along with competition and regulation. We lost half our clients and our fees droped by 2/3.

Much of our business comes from referrals, but I can't honestly say that we have anyone with client/revenue growth as a priority. It would be mine, and I could argue it is part of the budget, but it isn't clear, and no real time is devoted to it. Seems like I need to delegate accountability and move client/revenue growth into this spot.

Donald- In light of your comment,


In light of your comment, I'm not sure I completely understand your role. Nevertheless, I will say that someone does need responsibility for client growth, either by greater then inflationary growth/cost of capital in fees per client, or in new clients.

Then, in light of the details we're working with, I'd say that you're within shouting distance of the right priorities, and it won't do any good to work on changing those priorities until you start worrying about your calendar.

I'd recommend a calendar analysis as per our show, and then a deleting/delgating of those activities that don't support the priorities you've identified. After one quarter with that approach, you should get feedback from your team and the business about what's effective.

Hope this helps!


Mark, Thank you for your


Thank you for your recommendation. I have started scheduling two 90 min. sessions a week and in my O3s with my staff, have asked them to do the same. All three of us will be following your suggestion, and I will be coaching them on this as I do it myself. I can't say enough good things about manager-tools.com. I really appreciate your help and will report back in a month.

Many thanks,


Donald- Absolutely our pleasure.


Absolutely our pleasure. It's a privilege to be asked.

Keep us posted, and let us know when we can provide insight again.


It would be hard to "list" few key

It would be hard to "list" few key priorities, just make a lot of sense. Thanks!!!

Mark- No forgive me if I am making a


No forgive me if I am making a classic error and/or interpretation.

In this 'cast you told us about the productivity % that came out of your assessment in the Army; 66%. I found it particulalry interesting that you found this to be one of the most productive periods in your career.

My employer, within the division I work in, has a utilization target for resources like myself of 80% pa (based on the 2080 rule). If you do the maths this means that ANY hour you can work you WILL be billable.

This is where the error probably is, and where the key take away for me is, you can't mistake productivity with utilization.

So now the problem:

What would your advice be on having utilization a) that high (so much for SMART) and b) a good metric for business health.

Given that I have to work within the measure how can I sell, plan and execute a measure of productivity vs utilization. After all I am still accountable to the internal client for value for money.

Maybe off topic, would be a really nice follow up perhaps.

As always my thanks to Mike and yourself.


David- Minor point but I don't think


Minor point but I don't think I said 66% was MY most productive... I just think my unit won an award for being that high.

Billable hours and productivity really don't lend themselves to short blog posts. I generally see them as proxies for managing one's business, as opposed to actual goals. I know that managers focus on them, and that's fine...but I don't spend a lot of time thinking about that...


Mark and Mike, First of all thank

Mark and Mike,

First of all thank you for all your insight and behaviour suggestions, now I am learning what I should have been doing for many years.

In this cast you mentioned that most managers violate the fundamental rule of e-mail by checking it first thing in the morning. This is something that I am doing based upon the Got E-mail cast where I am now checking it only 3 times a day; you mentioned set aside 30 minutes first thing in the morning.

Have I misunderstood the suggestions? I do not want to violate fundamental rules, as by following the casts I have gained so much personally and professionally.

Darcy- No, you're not messing up...I


No, you're not messing up...I just wasn't clear enough. What I MEANT was that many managers make the mistake of going in and trying to get through all of their mail first thing, and then taking hours to do so. What came out, of course, was don't do email first thing.

The KEY to email is SCHEDULING it, and that means a start and an end, and an end time drives much better email behavior.

You're fine - my fault!


Late reply - just ran across this



I actually am a network engineer by trade and just became an IT Director and so part of my skillset and responsibility is design and engineering/admin. I also run into times that are unannouced requiring troubleshooting and not to mention people popping their heads in with questions, etc.


What did you find out about this or what have you learned so far. I think we could help each other because I often wondered how many IT Professionals really get involved with this material.