Posts

Maximizing Personal Productivity

Maximizing Personal Productivity Part 2 – Developing a Process for Time Management Decision Making

Maximizing Personal Productivity - Time Management Decision Making

This blog is the second in a series on the topic of “Maximizing Personal Productivity”.  Part 1 focused on the importance of understanding that time is a fixed resource and There really is no such thing as “I don’t have time” – there is only “I didn’t decide to spend my time on that!”.  The mindset we need to adopt to be successful centres on choice – we have the power to decide how we spend our time, although it is clear that the choices may sometimes be very difficult.  In order to make good decisions, we need to develop a process that helps clarify which choices most closely align with what we really want to achieve.

There are two key steps to an effective process relating to how you spend your time.  They are:

Step A – Organize and Assess

This step is all about ensuring that you collect and organize all of the requests and opportunities to spend your time and you assess the requests in order to decide what you will spend your time on to provide the greatest return relative to what you want to achieve each day, week, month, etc.

Step B – Focus

This step examines best practices for maintaining your focus on the activity you chose to spend time on.  This step is critical to the maximization of personal productivity.

Let’s look at some important components of Step A – Organize & Assess.  There are two parts to the Organize & Assess process.  The first part involves dealing with incoming time-takers and the second part is all about regular planning.  For this blog, we’ll deal with the first part – managing incoming time takers – and leave the second part for my next blog.

Managing Incoming Work/Play Opportunities

One of the key challenges in managing how you spend your time is managing the volume of incoming work/play opportunities.  Emails, phone calls, meetings, client projects, regular job expectations and personal activities can create an almost overwhelming list of things to do.

To be effective, you need to do the right things right.

As a starting point, you need to have a system to organize all the incoming requests to identify “the right things”.  Choose a system or strategy that you like and can commit to.  Some people use electronic tools while others write lists in journals.  In the end, the best system is one that you are committed to.

Establish a Plan of Action Immediately

The purpose of the system for managing your incoming requests is to ensure that every incoming request for your time is either acted on now, acted on later,  delegated (to someone else) or dismissed.  This is where a tool to organize your list can help.  You need to capture all of the items you’ll act on later in one place so you can refer to them when it is time to act on them.

If you really want an air-tight system for managing future commitments, you need to put them on a list or calendar that you refer to every day.  The routine of keeping and referring to a list or calendar every day is critical to success.

We Often Confuse Urgent with Important

Stephen Covey will be remembered forever for his articulation of the concept of assessing urgency and importance when deciding how to spend your time.  We often confuse urgent with important.  The phone rings and you answer it because it is urgent.  On the other end of the line is a person selling air-duct cleaning, which for most of us is not important.  So, answering the phone was a waste of time.

To be effective we need to do things that are important and avoid doing things that are not important.  Important activities are those which offer the most value in reaching your goals.  We’ll reflect further on the concept of urgent vs. important in the next blog.  However, here’s how it works in the context of the initial filter listed above.

You read an incoming email and have four choices:

  1. Act on it now. You make this choice because it is important and you can deal with it in five minutes or less.  For activities like this, it is more efficient to just do it than to put it on a to do list.
  2. Act on it later. The activity is important and you need to do it at some point.  If you need to do it later in the day or within the next week, the best place to log this activity is in a specific time slot in a calendar.  Otherwise, put it on the to do list.
  3. Delegate it. The activity is important but it isn’t necessary that you do it.  You should target routine tasks that could be done by others.
  4. Dismiss it (delete it). You make this choice because it is not important.

Ok, that’s it.  Simple, right!?  Don’t confuse simple with easy.  The concept is straightforward but the execution is tough.  The next blog in this series will continue to explore the urgent vs important concept in assessing the decisions regarding how to spend your time and will look at a really simple way to think about priority planning.

As always, I welcome your feedback. You can connect with me via email or telephone or leave a comment right here on the site.

Until next time,

Dave

David Town, ACC, CHRL, is a coach and facilitator of leadership and management principles that enable individuals and organizations to build greater leadership competency, resulting in higher performance and higher employee engagement. David has a particular focus on performance management and effectively managing conversations involving confrontation or conflict. As well, he provides insights and assessment strategies for integrating character competencies into leadership skills resulting in increased trust and reduced risk for leaders. David is a member of the International Coaching Federation and is President of Your Leadership Matters Inc.

two young business people discussing

Managing Employee Performance – Assessing Performance Part 3

two young business people discussing

This blog is part of a series focusing on the topic of “Managing Employee Performance”.  Managing employee performance in the workplace is comprised of all of the interactions and activities that take place between an employer and an employee that result in the achievement of goals and expectations. Read more

Managing Employee Performance – Setting Expectations Part 2

48938495_s

This blog is the third in a series focusing on the topic of “Managing Employee Performance”.  Managing employee performance in the workplace is comprised of all of the interactions and activities that take place between an employer and an employee that result in the achievement of goals and expectations.   The previous blog offered insights into how to set expectations.  Context, clarity and degrees of freedom are key elements in the development of clear expectations.   This blog will continue the topic of how to set expectations with a review of goal-setting. Read more

Managing Employee Performance – Setting Expectations

Setting Expectations

This blog is the second in a series focusing on the topic of “Managing Employee Performance”.  Managing employee performance in the workplace is comprised of all of the interactions and activities that take place between an employer and an employee, that result in the achievement of goals and expectations. The first blog emphasized the need for organizations to choose the most appropriate focus for performance management – the development of a relationship and work environment that enables the person to perform to the best of their abilities. Read more

Leadership & Character – Self-Control

Control your emotions text concept

Over the past few months, I have offered insights into the various attributes possessed by leaders who act with character.  Each of these character attributes contributes to the leader’s ability to make positive, character-based decisions.  One attribute I have not yet explored is self-control.  After reviewing various dictionary definitions I’ve landed on the following themes that express the meaning of self-control:  the ability to resist or delay an impulse; the ability to control oneself – particularly emotions and desires; and the ability to stop yourself from doing something you want to do, but may not be in your best interests. Read more

Leadership & Character – Humility

Top View of Business Shoes on the floor with the text: Stay Humble

Leaders who act with character have a variety of virtues and values that contribute to their ability to make positive character-based decisions.  One of the key attributes of character-based leadership, which seems to get less attention, is humility.  Humility is generally defined as “a modest view of one’s own importance”. Individuals who demonstrate humility focus more on others than they do on themselves which is why humility can be such a great character-based leadership attribute. Read more

Leadership & Character – Vision & Meaning

Vision concept with hand pressing a button

The ability to make good decisions is an important skill for leaders. In order to be able to make good decisions, leaders must have a clear focus. This focus can come from the vision that the leader is trying to achieve and the underlying purpose or meaning that is served by the vision. So, let’s take a look at the importance of vision and meaning in character-based leadership. Read more

Leadership & Character – Compassion

compassion word in wood type

The past three blogs have focused on character in leadership based on an assessment of the presence of four universally-accepted moral principles: integrity, responsibility, forgiveness and compassion.  These principles are the foundation of the methodology for assessing character that Fred Kiel introduced in his book entitled “Return on Character”.   This blog will focus on the importance of compassion as it relates to character-based leadership.

In order to understand the role of compassion in a character-based leader, we can turn to Fred Kiel’s book “Return on Character” where he outlines three common behaviors or attributes that constitute compassion in a leader: empathy, attachment and affection.

Let’s start with empathy. Empathy is broadly defined as the ability to understand the feelings of others. It is an important attribute for leaders to have for many reasons. First of all, a person who demonstrates strong empathy skills focuses on the feelings of others and not just their own feelings. Stephen Covey, author of “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” put “Seek first to understand then to be understood” as habit number five.  I think that Covey believed that to honour this habit a person must be able to demonstrate empathy and strong listening skills. Once they establish a deeper understanding of the other person’s point of view, they will be in a much better position to articulate their own thoughts and feelings.  When a person senses that you understand what they are feeling, the relationship strengthens. Read more

Leadership & Character – Integrity

integrity word cloud on digital tablet

The past two blogs have focused on the assessment of character using the methodology Fred Kiel introduced in his book entitled “Return on Character”.  In the book, character in leadership is based on an assessment of the presence of four universally-accepted moral principles: integrity, responsibility, forgiveness and compassion.  We’ve reviewed the impact of responsibility and forgiveness on character.  In this blog, we will look at the importance of integrity as it relates to character-based leadership. Read more

Leadership & Character – Forgiveness

Forgiveness

There are many ways to measure the degree to which a leader demonstrates positive character and my last blog reviewed the methodology Fred Kiel introduced in his book entitled “Return on Character”.  In the book, character in leadership is based on an assessment of the presence of four universally accepted moral principles: integrity, responsibility, forgiveness and compassion.

Last time we explored responsibility.  This time we will gain insight into the importance of forgiveness as it relates to character-based leadership.  Forgiveness is a powerful characteristic to exhibit as a leader because it has the power to add tremendous strength to relationships. An important truth is that a leader’s success is profoundly influenced by the strength of the relationships. Read more