CoachDeclute Blog

Where Does All The Time Go?

Posted in Articles by coachdeclute on August 10, 2010

Now how many times in a week do you hear that? Time just slips through our fingers in the most mysterious way…..

If you struggle with the issue of time and effective time management I am going to share some excellent strategies for improving the situation.  Like all worthwhile things it does take a concerted effort. You probably have to change some daily habits and you may need to use the Daily Activity Tracker as a tool in the process. For those not familiar with this tool please send me a note and I will send you one with brief instructions.

It is often easy to think that we are most amazing because we can juggle a ton of things at a time – often referred to as multi-tasking. In any given day we may juggle all of those tasks and never be focused enough to finish any of them. Now how amazing is that? When this happens we sigh and say “Where does all the time go?”

Then those of us who are determined and probably workaholics, work on into the night so we can put a couple of check marks on our TODO list. Important activities outside of work are neglected and we feel tired and unhappy time and time again…

Many of you have heard me speak about being a follower of Strategic Coach where I learned about Free Days, Focus Days and Buffer Days. That learning made a tremendous difference to my life hence my applause for this approach. I also acknowledge that for some people this approach needs some modification – so with many clients I have worked on ways of combining it with another approach that many recommend called Time Chunking.

So here is how to start –

  • Review your goals and the time frame for completion of each
  • Prioritize and make your list for the week ahead ( 7 days)
  • Then divide this week’s items between the fun/leisure stuff, the planning stuff and the action stuff that is your Unique Brilliance Work – the stuff that makes you money or provides you with some other measure of success
  • Decide how much time you will spend on each of these categories (fun/plan/action) and when you will be fully engaged with each of them
  • If any task seems a bit overwhelming, break it into smaller chunks always with the associated time allotment
  • Plan appropriate, but very specific breaks for coffee, lunch, checking emails, returning phone calls etc. Allow enough time and frequency for emails and phone calls so that you will not be disappointing a client or missing a business opportunity.
  • Now you have your week planned and in your calendar
  • Use some tool to keep you focused on time. Easy to do with your Blackberry or a simple Kitchen timer

The importance of committing to your plan for the day and week cannot be overemphasized.

If you are not working with 24 hour time blocking but breaking a day up between “fun” and “planning” for example – adhere to the time chunks you set out. There is nothing wrong with enjoying an afternoon of golf as long as that was the plan.

If you can’t resist a spontaneous invitation to golf with a friend one afternoon, do what I call “a time chunk swap”! That means look at the balance of the week and move the planning you were supposed to be doing (instead of golfing) that afternoon into another time block that was meant for fun stuff. This ensures that you allocate the overall time appropriately. You will get to the end of the week with everything completed as planned – hallelujah!

A few other tips for maintaining focus and improving your time management:

  • Honour your need for concentration and close your office door or seek a private space when work demands it. This also applies when leaving the office to enjoy some fun stuff. Shutting down will refresh and invigorate!
  • If you work in your home, designate specific space and office hours. Explain to the family or others that you need privacy and the ability to concentrate in this space and time. If you have children help them understand that this allows you to be free and completely focused on them and their activities at a specified time. Keep the promise.
  • Turn off the sound on your communication device(s) during focus time and/or if you are in a meeting with peers and clients. Announce at the beginning of a meeting that you will have a break at (specify the time) so everyone can cover emails and calls in a timely fashion. This approach will ensure that people in your sphere of influence respect each others time – and learn about time management too!

I hope you find these ideas helpful. I would love to hear of your success or other strategies you have implemented to effectively manage yourself and your time in the comments below.

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