Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Time Management: Know about time management

Great time management is one of the most vital skills leaders can develop. All of us have the same number of hours in a day, and no amount of effort can change that. What we can influence is how we spend those hours. A quote from Stephen Covey sums up how we can best use our time : "I am personally persuaded that the best thinking in the area of time management can be captured in a single phrase : Organize and execute around priorities."

We offer three tools to help leaders focus their time against their priorities :

time management grid

TOOL 1 : The Time Management Grid.

This grid focuses on the two key dimensions of Time Management Grid : the urgency and importance of tasks clamouring for our attention. long the top is the urgency axis : LHS is very urgent, RHS is less urgent. The vertical axis is the importance axis. The top boxes contain more important activities, the bottom activities are less important. This gives us four quadrants :

time managementQuadrant 1 represents things which are both urgent and important. We've called this "firefighting". The activities need to be dealt with immediately, and they're important.
time management Quadrant 2 represents things which are important, but not urgent. We've termed this one "Quality Time". Although the activities here are important, and contribute to achieving the goals and priorities - they don't have to be done right now. As a result, they can be scheduled in when you can give quality thought to them. A good example would be the preparation of an important talk, or mentoring a key individual. Prayer time, family time and personal relaxation/recreation are also part of Quadrant 2.
time managementQuadrant 3 are distractions. They must be dealt with right now, but frankly, are not important. For example, when you answer an unwanted phone call, - you've had to interrupt whatever you were doing to answer it.
time managementThe final quadrant, Quadrant 4, are things which are neither urgent nor important. Some meetings could fall into this category - they've been scheduled in advance, but if they achieve nothing, or you don't contribute to them, then they have simply wasted time. Other examples could include driving time and low quality relaxation or family time.
Using the tool : consciously strive to maximize Quadrant 2 time. Allocate time in your diary to carry out these tasks when you are at your best. Doing so can reduce the amount of time taken up by firefighting quadrant 1 activities, since many quadrant 1 activities could have been quadrant 2 if they had been done earlier. You can also seek to reduce time spent in Quadrant 3 by improving your systems and processes for dealing with distractions, and you can seek to eliminate as much as possible of quadrant 4 activities, by either not spending time on these things, or changing the nature of them to make them more productive. For example, driving can be quadrant 4 if the time is unproductive, but there are a number of ways of making this time more productive by listening to a praise tape, praying, learning new skills with a tape course, planning and so on.

TOOL 2 : Goal Planning

Many people have a daily to-do list which they can prioritize and then work through. However, to focus your time on that which is truly important, ie in line with your goals, you will need to : i. Consciously become aware (and write down!) of what you are trying to achieve across the key roles and different parts of your life. Some leaders may feel strange to set goals for family life, but these goals may be more about finding quality time together than achieving specific objectives. However, if you only set goals for the parts of your life which are concerned with business or ministry, then these elements may squeeze out time for other parts of your life. ii. Write down three or four monthly plans of the progress you would like to achieve towards these goals. This can inform your daily and weekly planning. Don't be over ambitious, since that can lead to feelings of frustration, but equally set at least one or two stretching challenges for some of the most important goals.

Tool 3 : Eight Tips for Great Time Management

time managementKnow what is important - write down the key goals you are working towards. (This can apply to all parts of your life.)
time managementConsciously plan your time : using three or four monthly and weekly plans
time managementChoose how you communicate : phone, memo, meeting or e-mail.
time managementWrite in your diary in pencil, then you won't feel bad about changing your plans.
time managementAvoid being driven by your diary. Just because something has already been entered, doesn't mean that you can't do something else with the time.
time managementKnow when you are at your best, and schedule quadrant 2 activity for that time.
time managementMake the most of 10 minutes - many tasks can be done in a "spare" 10 minutes, including taking a relaxation break.
time managementPeriodically review your time effectiveness against the quadrant map, and against your goals.

Improve Time Management: Overcome Procrastination

Improve your time management routines, following some simple tips. Don't say "I'll read them later".

* start with a written plan of action to avoid getting distracted
* keep your plan simple and straightforward
* start with the one thing you must get done today to feel productive
* should be a manageable item you can complete in 10-15 minutes
* your tasks should match your values or purpose
* bring each task into congruence with your basic mission
* if you can't, take it off of your list
* don't put any "to-do" on your list that takes more than 30 minutes
* if it takes longer, it's actually a series of smaller "to-do's"

* don't try to do everything perfectly
* perfectionism often causes procrastination
* any small step toward completion is an accomplishment
* do the worst job (or part of the job) first and get it out of the way
* set a time limit -- "I'll file papers for 5 minutes"
* alternate unpleasant jobs with tasks you enjoy
* delegate out items you can't make yourself do

* interruptions tend to occur in identifiable patterns
* notice when interruptions occur, by whom, and why
* take steps to prevent those interruptions before they occur
* if they can't be prevented, learn how to delegate to someone else
* if they can't be delegated, learn how to delay until you are finished

* make the project and environment as pleasant as possible
* give yourself the best tools and work space for the project
* take a few minutes to organize your work space
* schedule a regular time to check in with a friend or colleague
* rewarding your accomplishments encourages productivity

My Ten Principles of Time Management

An econ grad student writes to ask about time management:

One of the most interesting topics discussed in Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography was his schedule. It was helpful to see how he organized his day, which I imagine a proper allocation of time was necessary for his diverse and fecund life. In an earlier post, you answered why economists, including you, take the time to educate the public. My question is a combination of both: how do you spend your time?....I am curious how you schedule your time and, like Benjamin Franklin, if you have a fixed schedule or if what you do is guided by what you feel like doing.
Time management is a topic I have occassionally struggled with, as I like being involved with a diverse range of activities, and figuring out the right balance is not always easy. Here are ten things I have learned about myself. (Note: I don't pretend these observations apply to others; they are functions of my own tastes, quirks, and personality.)

1. When I am involved in a big writing project, such as one of my textbooks, I try to keep to a very regular schedule. I aim to start every day, seven days a week, writing about 600 words. It is the first thing I do (after getting my kids off to school). After that, I feel I have "earned" my freedom for the rest of the day. If you do this for a few years, you have a good-sized book on your hands.

2. I like to attend seminars and take classes. It feels like goofing off at the time, but it often ends up productive. Interesting ideas pop up in unexpected places. During the academic year, the seminar and class schedule is the skeleton of my day.

3. Travel is usually an inefficient use of time. I hate sitting on planes and waiting in airports. As a result, I turn down over 90 percent of invitations I get to attend conferences, give talks, etc. Being in Cambridge, at Harvard and near the NBER, makes this choice a luxury that is feasible at low cost. It is harder to replicate in other places. There are so many seminars and conferences here that I don't feel the need to travel.

4. I don't allocate any of my time to consulting. I did some consulting once, very briefly for Microsoft during the antitrust case. I was interested in the policy issues, and Microsoft approached me after I had written a column critical of the government's case. But I learned that consulting was not to my taste. I prefer the freedom of more academic work.

5. I avoid university committees. They are vast wastes of time. I won't bother saying anything more about them, because that would be a waste of time, too. (If some Harvard dean is reading this, thinking "Yes, we need a new committee to investigate how to make university committees more efficient," please don't ask me to be on it.)

6. I have never accepted offers to edit academic journals. Bob Solow made the same decision during his career. He once explained that decision to me as follows: "For every ten papers you handle, you create nine enemies and one ingrate."

7. Time allocated to talking with students is always well spent. Whenever my ec 10 students invite me to dinner, I accept the invitation if I possibly can. If I keep doing this, I am confident that Saint Peter will smile down upon me when my time comes.

8. I usually spend my research time working on whatever moves me. One of the great features of an academic career is the freedom to think and write about those topics that most interest you. As a young academic, one has to consider, to some degree, what will impress colleagues on promotion and hiring committees. (But even youngsters shouldn't overdo it: I recommend that students focus more on their own passions than on those of others.) But certainly, after publishing dozens of academic articles and collecting a few thousand citations in the Social Science Citation Index, I now think less about impressing others and spend more of my time doing what I want. It is one of the upsides of getting older, perhaps God's way to compensate for the graying hair and expanding waistline.

9. Lately, I have been spending some of my time writing this blog, which started as a by-product of teaching ec 10, the principles class at Harvard. I am still trying to figure out if this is a good use of my time or not. On the one hand, this feels like providing a public good. (Perhaps at a low cost: some of the time I spend on it has come from watching reruns of Law and Order.) On the other hand, at times writing this blog feels like being hooked on crack.

10. My wife would tell you that my life works only because I am a workaholic. But I don't think of myself as a workaholic, and I don't feel like I am working hard. I just really enjoy what I do.

courtesy @

Monday, January 14, 2008

Negative thinking leads to negative assumptions!

Most people aim at nothing and hit it accurately. Manypeople who do plan, plan, and plan some more, never reach their goals. Others plan, take action, and seem to succeed without much struggle. Why do some people fail while others succeed?

Success is achieved by planning action and taking action. However, before defining goals and putting together an action plan, it is important to do a self-evaluation. This evaluation must extend deep in one's attitude.

Now I am not saying that having a good attitude will bring you success. What I am saying is that your attitude must be in line with the results you want to achieve. you must examine your inner self and know why you are striving for the goals you say you want to achieve.

Build your attitude positively from the inside out. Begin by building a sustainable motivating attitude. Plan your goals around your strengths and build on your personal confidence in all you do. Over time, you will find yourself achieving more.

TIP - Do not internally focus on the negative, focus on what you can achieve. When one focuses on what can go wrong or what is going wrong, they tend to dig themselves deeper in a pool of negativity and non-accomplishment. Positive thinking and positive doing will nurture you toward success.

Life : Define Your Life

"Be happy while you're living, for you're a long time dead." - Scottish Proverb

Everyone says, "How the time flies." The days go by and they are years, and the years finally become our whole life. Each daily portion can be wasted, or it can be a pleasure, before it is gone forever. If a bedtime review of the day concludes that we were too stressed, too busy, didn't accomplish anything, didn't have any fun, then it has been another lost piece of precious life.

Perhaps we are putting off our enjoyment until we have more time, or money, or some other improved condition. The trouble with that is that it might never happen, or it may be too long in coming. It's so important to accept this time, this very minute, as something of tremendous value that will very soon be gone forever. There are many ways to ensure that we make the best of our time here on earth.

In our daily routine let's include time to enjoy others and thus ourselves. Look and wonder at the trees, fields and mountains, smell the flowers, hear the birds, and watch the clouds in the sky.

"This world, after all our science and sciences, is still a miracle; wonderful, magical and more, to whosoever will think of it." - Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881)

Face your problems bravely, confidently, and improve on your situation, no matter what state it be in. Be good to feel good. Be active and improve your mind. Laugh, relax, and sleep well.

Life is mostly froth and bubble; Two things stand like stone: Kindness in another's trouble, Courage in our own. - Adam Gordon (1833-1870)

Self discipline :Know about Self Descipline

Of all the attributes required by people and entrepreneurs lack of discipline in all things becomes the one catalyst that can contribute to destroying everything else. All the motivation and commitment in the world behind an excellent achievable and well researched goal can fail if the discipline is lacking to continue with persistence to follow though.

Self discipline is a basic requirement in any career. The drive required to start new ideas in business will nearly always meet the strong resistance of entrenched forces. Vested intere

sts and ways of doing things have become a habit and the uncreative mind sees any change as a challenge to their own comfort levels. Any innovation that challenges this bureaucratic situation or threatens the comfort levels of the existing system will be resisted.

The innovator must be disciplined by an absolute belief in the new system and willing to commit all his resources to overcome this obstacle. Once the innovator is rebuffed and lacks the discipline to follow through on his excitement and commitment to attain the immediate goal, natural resistance to any innovation might completely overcome the entire venture.

Discipline should not be confused with conformity. The problem psychologically with rebuttal within a system is that some educational systems and some rigid conformist societies do not encourage independent thinking. This tends to dampen non conformist thought among the young who are not encouraged to think beyond what that society regards as norms. This creates a youth that have their creative, intellectual and financial thinking stunted by dogma. The unfortunate result is that the discipline of thinking is held captive and not allowed to innovate. This is not only a factor in conservative societies but also in conservative families. The unfortunate result of this thinking is that when the rebellion comes against the shackles from a creative and driven entrepreneur there is the danger that the rigidity of discipline is also lost. Deep in the subconscious is buried the desire to break from the rigidity of negative discipline. This negative discipline must be replaced with positive discipline.

One of the greatest problems facing many of the youth is the factor of teen self- esteem. If a teenager grows up in an environment of lack of trust where the role models lack ethics, goals or commitment to a value system, they can only become part of the problem. Teens might also be discouraged from innovation. If they observe the system all about them as dysfunctional it must be very difficult to believe that they can change anything. Yet it is vital for the young to be able to believe that they can decide what they want to be in life. Once this idea takes root they can start building the vital self esteem that is essential to self motivation.

Self motivation starts with self esteem, an ambition to make a difference or achieve a goal, and to start on the road to achieve it with the correct positive attitude and the discipline to drive the desire and achieve the goal.

Create That Winning Feeling By Bob Proctor

I believe we would all agree that having a winning feeling is prerequisite to achieving outstanding results. A person can't possibly expect to win if they're constantly focusing on failure!

The real secret here is to capture that winning feeling of success as often as you can to create the environment necessary to succeed.

If you've been a little down in the dumps, feeling insecure or perhaps not feeling as confident in your ability as you'd like, I have a great tip for you. My suggestion to anyone looking for a success track to run on, or to a person who is looking to get back on one, is to start capitalizing on short-term victories.

That means specifically focussing on tasks you can achieve daily. The principle is to start with an adversity over which you can succeed, and gradually take on more and more difficult tasks. Nothing succeeds like success.

Another technique used by many people in developing or maintaining a winning feeling is what we call the reflection method.

Think back during a time where you were really successful at something... we all have times to which we can relate. It could have been a sale, a particular speech, a school play, or standing up to the town bully. Each one of us can reflect back on a moment in time to recapture that winning feeling.

Professional sports coaches often replay winning games of the past for their team prior to a big game to stimulate and create a winning feeling!

Years ago, a good friend of mine had left his job and a company that he had worked with for many years. He was one of the top VPs with his company and had done extremely well. He had left because he wanted to start his own business. I told him he could use one of our offices until such time as he was ready to open up his own office.

In any event, I happened to be in the office one afternoon and Grant, who normally was very upbeat and positive, was really having a difficult time. After a few moments of small talk, it became apparent what the problem was. Grant had hit the terror barrier and the possibility of starting his own company was overwhelming him... he just didn't think he could do it. Here's a man who had risen to the top of his field, made a high six-figure income for years... and yet was still having doubts as to his ability to start his own company.

I asked Grant to go home, get a notebook and start to write down all of his accomplishments; as far back as he could remember. The look on his face was priceless – I'm sure he thought I'd lost my mind.

I told him that the accomplishment could be small or large... it didn't really matter. The point was to focus on something positive. I still remember him asking, "Well, what if I only fill half a page." I just smiled and asked him to do his best and start writing.

Monday morning came and Grant was back in the office with a notebook full of accomplishments. I smiled and said, "You must have been fairly confident, you picked up a good sized notebook!" We both had a good laugh. Grant went on to build a multi-million dollar financial planning company and later franchised the operation to extend across Canada and the US!

This is a great exercise for anyone needing a bit of a boost. What would give you a winning feeling of pride and satisfaction?

Remember... a winning feeling is a confident feeling and one that forgets misses, and reinforces successful attempts.