Category Archives: Time Management

Time Is Critical To Your Success

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I think about time a lot.  I’m fascinated by time.  My perspective on time is that it is unlimited.  I know that isn’t true.  In fact, I have lots of great reasons to know that that isn’t true.  I still have that perspective, though.  That means that I am comfortable procrastinating–there is always time.  I can do it next week, or next month, or even next year.  I know lots of people who are urgent about time.  Who MUST get stuff done–especially the stuff on their list–get it done now.  People who are impatient about time drive me nuts.  And I drive them nuts.  They are right.  And I am right.

If you live your life thinking you’ve got all the time in the world to accomplish what you want, then you will be unpleasantly surprised at some point to find out that you have run out of time.  If, on the other hand, you spend your life all uptight about time and fret about getting everything done NOW, then you will likely get lots done, but you will also waste an awful lot of time stressed out.  And you will miss some of the true joy in life.

I’ve made the point in a previous blog, You Have All the Time There Is.  We all have the same amount of time that all the “Greats” in our world have had–Galileo, Mozart, Jefferson, Einstein, etc.  It’s what you do with time that makes the difference.  I’m not an expert on these folks, but I don’t think ALL of them stressed out about time (although maybe some of them did).  They did use their time wisely and to our benefit, though.

So many people make a lot of money helping us manage our time.  There sure are a lot of us who apparently don’t manage time as well as we could.  Or at least who are willing to pay a lot of $$ to do it better.

Ask yourself:

  • Are you accomplishing what you want with your life?
  • Are you managing time to your satisfaction?
  • What do you want to have accomplished this month?  This year?
  • What one thing could you do differently to manage time better?
  • What commitment could you make to make that change?

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Are You Incompetent? Unreliable? Probably.

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Competence and reliability and trustworthiness are in the eye of the beholder.  You know how hard you work.  You know how much you are stretched across many deliverables for many people.  You know that you’re doing the best you can (and it is pretty damn good! (if you do say so yourself)).  Others don’t know–or care.  They know and care about what you do (and don’t do) for them.  If you are regularly late for their meetings–or miss them altogether, then you are seen as disrespectful.  They know that you don’t give them feedback when asked.  They know whether you deliver what they are waiting for on time.

Whatever is in your head as an excuse (or a rationalization) about why you can’t make it to the lesser important meetings or deliver things for the priority 2 or 3 things on your list, IS IRRELEVANT to the people you are letting down.  You appear incompetent to them.  You are unreliable according to them.  You better hope that these people never need to make a choice about hiring you or promoting you or downsizing you, because their opinion is the one that will count then, not yours.

It is way better for your future career not to overcommit, to be clear that their program, project, deliverable will not get done because you are assigned to other priorities, than to overcommit.  We overcommit for a lot of reasons–to be liked, because we want to be involved in everything, because the person is a friend, or a former boss or an important person.  Knowing your capacity and respecting your limits, even if it is uncomfortable, will keep you out of trouble.  Learn to be clear about what you will do and what you won’t do.  Learn to say no–or if you can’t/won’t–say no to someone else.  No one gets rewards for all the things that they agree to do, only for what they actually get done.

The next time you are late or don’t deliver, see it through the eyes of the person you’re letting down.

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Filed under Career Development, Communication, Executive Development, Time Management

Onboard Yourself


Onboarding is the process that organizations use to get their employees up to speed enough to do their jobs.  Another term for it is “organizational socialization.”  Organizations have informal and formal methods for the knowledge transfer or processes, tools, methods, culture and introductions that is sufficient for the employee to be effective in his/her new job.  I’ve seen really good onboarding and really horrible onboarding.

The best onboarding I ever experienced personally was as a consultant when I was going to work for a group of consultants.   The onboarding was a combination of providing me with detailed “playbooks” of how the organization did its work and of having me spend intense time with each team of consultants to see/understand how they put the playbook into action.  I traveled weekly for my onboarding and in three weeks’ time, I felt that I understood the whole and was fully able to go do it myself.  It was the combination of the intensity, the excellent documentation, and the seeing it all in action—including being given tasks I didn’t know how to do, but being surrounded by people who could/would help me.

I’ve had so many “worst” onboardings that it is hard to pick just one.  They range from putting me in a room with a year’s worth of reading and leaving me to read for two weeks to putting me at a desk and spending less than 10 minutes telling me what to do and walking away, never to return.  I think that I eventually did OK, even at the jobs with these onboardings, but the time it took to get me up to speed and to be productive was vastly different.

I finally decided that I needed to take responsibility for my own onboarding.  As a consultant, it is critical that I hit the ground running and know enough in a week to make a difference.  If I wait for people (who all have other jobs and many of whom are not sure they want me here, anyway) to tell me what/how/when/why in the organization, then I will fail.  These processes can apply for anyone, in any job, including people who have been in the job for a long time.

DIY Onboarding

Steps to Your Own Onboarding:

  • Make a Plan:  Identify what you want to accomplish and how fast.  You have a fairly short period of time before people get over you being new and expect you to “do” something.  They are very open to questions in the early days; they think you’re dumb if you’re still asking questions later (even then, you need to ask questions to learn—deal with what they think).  Who do you need to know?  What do you need to know?  What do you need to be able to do?  Ask people what they think you need to do to be successful.  Then put in place a plan that gets you there.  Fast.
  •  Meet People:  Meet people at every level.  Set up meetings.  Invite people to lunch or breakfast.  Accept all invitations.  Learn the power structures.  Learn the informal networks.  Learn the ‘go to’ people.  Learn the whiners.  Learn who to listen to and who to avoid.  The only way to do that is to throw yourself into meeting people.  (Even introverts need to do this)  Ask people to help you.  Ask people who you should meet.  Ask people who helped them when they started.  Target someone to be a mentor in this process and ask for his/her help.
  •  Figure Out the Tools:  Luckily, today most organizations use the same fundamental tools—the Microsoft Office suite plus SharePoint.  If the organization uses different/other tools, however, learn these as soon as possible.  Learn Oracle,, EPDM, or whatever other tool your organization uses.  You need to understand it and be conversant in its strengths and weaknesses.  (Every tool you learn makes you more marketable—use the opportunity of being new to dive in and learn new tools).
  •  Understand the Culture:  Every organization has its own culture.  This is like the water the fish swim in—the people inside the organization are not very aware of it consciously, but it shapes all behavior unconsciously.  When you’re new is the only time you can actually “see” the culture.  Don’t make the mistake of assuming it is like the culture you just came from.  Just because engineers are the dominant players in the new culture as they were in the old, there will be huge differences.  Learn these differences with “new eyes.”  Learn what the organization thinks about what makes success, who are the people who seem to “get it.”  What are they like?  How much does the leader shape the organization?  Is the founder still there?  How long since the founder was there?  What are the left over influences from that?  (These are frequently the things that don’t seem to make sense because they started a long time ago but are still there).  Write down your observations of the culture.  Make a mind map.  How does the culture influence the way that you will get your work done?  How can you use the culture to be more effective?
  •  Learn the Product/Customers/Processes:  Become an expert.  Take all the classes you can.  (Organizations frequently have classes for new sales people that are available to others).  Ask people about the processes.  Become best friends with the Intranet.  What’s there and what can you learn from what’s there?  What do others outside the organization say?  What do people in the organization say in reaction?  Everyone in every part of the organization needs to thoroughly understand the Product and the Customers.  You need to at least understand the processes in your own organization and those that take product to market and get money to the bank.  Like I said, BECOME AN EXPERT.
  •  Take Actions:  You have a very short window before people start to see action.  Look for opportunities to take early action.  It is better to be right about these actions, so be careful—but not too careful.  Action is better than no action, even if you make mistakes.  Ask your boss and peers what kinds of actions they are expecting from you and deliver them as soon as possible.

 Good Books That Help With This:

The First 90 Days, Critical Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels  byMichael Watkins

The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan by George Bradt, Jamye Check, and Jorge Pedrassa


Filed under Books, Career Development, Communication, Executive Development, Hi Po, Leadership, Networking, Recession Proof, Success, Time Management, Uncategorized

Are You A Wannabe?

Are you an Executive wannabe?  An entrepreneur wannabe?  An artist wannabe? A marathoner wannabe? An author wannabe?  Do you put one of those on your New Year’s Resolutions list?  How about your career goals list?

What Is Stopping You?

Look at last week’s calendar.  Look at last month’s calendar.  Is your ‘wannabe’ goal anywhere on your calendar?  If not, why not?  How can you possibly accomplish your goal if you’re not spending any time on it?  Don’t tell me you don’t have time.  People who really want to do something have time.  Every successful accomplished person who has done what you want to do has EXACTLY the same amount of time that you do.  It comes down to six things:

  • Priority:  If this is your future, then you need to put it sufficiently up your priority list that you are spending time on it
  • Motivation:  Understand what motivates you and put that in your life.
  • Focus: You CANNOT do it all (at once).  Turn off the TV.  Stop surfing the Internet.  Stop texting.  Take yourself to some place quiet and isolated.
  • Determination:  Keep working toward your goal, no matter what gets in the way.
  • Create whatever support infrastructure you need.  If you need training, get it.  If you need a coach, get one.  If you need a place, find one.
  • Action:  I hate to be repetitive, but JUST DO IT


So, How Do You Do That?

  • Write it down.  Be very specific.  Not ‘Write a book’ but ‘Write a novel, get a book contract, and get it published by this time next year.
  • Once you’ve written the specific goal, work backwards.  In order to write a novel, get a book contract and get it published, what do you have to do?  In order to do those things, what do you have to do?  Ask what you have to do and detail it several times.
  • Once you have a fairly detailed list, decide what you are going to do tomorrow.  What are you going to do this week.  Look at your calendar and put these tasks on it.  Take something off your calendar to make room for it, if you have to.
  • What reward will you give yourself for which accomplishments.  It doesn’t have to be something big–just something that you will associate in your mind with accomplishing the task.
  • What are the big milestones in your plan?  How will you reward yourself for these big milestones?
  • Hold yourself accountable.  Tell someone–that makes it harder to escape the accountability.

Great books to help with this:

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Filed under Books, Career Development, Career Goals, Goal Setting, Personal Change, Time Management

You Have All The Time There Is

Do you frequently use the excuse  that you don’t   have enough time to . . .  Network?  Spend  time  with the kids?  Exercise?  Learn to ski?  Write  a book?  It’s an excuse I frequently hear in my coaching practice.    The reality is that you have  all the time that there is.  There are 24 hours in a day, 168 hours and 10,080 minutes in a week.   That is the same amount of time that Galileo, Thomas Edison (1093 patents), Benjamin Franklin  (an author, printer, political architect, scientist, musician, postmaster,  inventor,  activist, librarian, statesman, and diplomat) and Martin Luther King (you know what he did) had.  How is it that they were more productive with their 168 hours than we are?

There are only four things to do with your “To Do” list:

  1. Do it.
  2. Delegate it.
  3. Postpone it.
  4. Forget it.

Otherwise known as DDPF.  As you can see, more of these are “To Don’ts” than “To Dos.”  All of the best time management systems help you figure out how to do these things.  Systems such as  Franklin Covey and  Getting Things Done help you prioritize and decide whether to DDP or F.  How many times have you started a new process/system with hope and motivation?  Me too.

There are two key parts to managing your time to accomplish your goals and live your dreams:  Goal clarity and focus.

To do this, make a list of all your goals.  Include short term, medium term and long term.  Get them all down.  Look at the list.  Are there groupings you can make, i.e. House Improvements/Get Out of Debt/Get Promotion?  Once this list is completed and you’ve put them into appropriate groupings, pick the most important.  Think long term.  What will make the rest of your life better if you get it done?  For example, if you look at the list above–house/debt/promotion–it might be ‘get a promotion’ because that would help you get out of debt and let you hire someone to do the house improvements.  If you’re anything like me, you’ll resist picking only one.  Do it anyway.  If nothing else on your list got done, what most needs to get done?  OK, now you can pick the next most important and the next most important.   Stop at three.  You have now gotten goal clarity.

Think creatively.  Are there ways besides you doing it to get some of these things done? Get rid of as many as possible–delegate them, postpone them, or decide not to do them for a while.

The next thing that you need to do is FOCUS.  We all pride ourselves on being multi-taskers.  Me too.  Multi-tasking just slows you down, though.  You really can only focus on one thing at a time.  AT. A. TIME.  That time might just be seconds, or minutes, but your mind can only think of, work on, deliver one thing at a time.  If you don’t agree, just indulge me for a little longer.  The system that  I use is called Personal Kanban,  This system has helped me enormously to focus and get things done.  It has you divide all your “to do” tasks into:  Waiting/Doing/Done.  If you follow it, it forces a level of focus that allows you to concentrate and finish things.  You should put the tasks that will help you accomplish your first three priorities in the “Waiting” category (you can use white boards, paper, an app, or a Powerpoint slide, which is what I use).  Select the first task, move it into the “Doing” category, and as one of my favorite bosses says, “Get Ur Done.”

I was shocked at how much this system improved my ability to deliver the important things that I was working on.  You won’t accomplish your important goals and life dreams, however, if you’re just taking your list of things to do and skipping the prioritization.  Once you’ve gotten your top three done, then you can move on.  You can look at it from a “today” perspective, or a “this week” or even a “this year” perspective.  Just get focused on what is important and concentrate on those things.

Try it.  See what you think.


Filed under Executive Development, Goal Setting, Time Management