I have a love/hate relationship with time management. You know, you love what good time management delivers. You hate the feeling that you’re focusing on time management so much that you wonder how much time you’re spending on it!
When I (accidentally) started in project management, one of my first mentors gave me a tip that is still useful.
Bob is a big man with a slight southern drawl, loads of experience and a low-key manner. He also had a strong commitment to helping his protégés avoid scar tissue. Unfortunately, scar tissue was most of your education when nobody called you a project manager, but that’s what you were. One day he pulled me aside.
“You’re working way too hard and way too long each day,” he observed.
What!? Wasn’t that what I was supposed to do? Work hard, put in the hours, and wasn’t that why my teams were delivering great results?!
“You can make more money, but you can’t make more time. If your teams help you manage your time better, you’re going to hit the end of the week being less tired mentally, less cranky, and less like you’re looking forward to sleeping your whole weekend away. It means you’re really ready for the upcoming week and all the work that needs to get done in that week.
Ask your folks to put three numbers at the start of their emails.
411 means they need information – timely response, please, but not urgent
611 means they have a problem – please respond at your first opportunity
911 means they REALLY have a problem – please respond, MAKE the opportunity to.”
Having said his piece, Bob strolled back to his office.
This simple tool gave me a better handle on how to use best my time in responding.
Although people know about those codes, it’s nice to see how they can use them. A micro-creative perspective that’s been very productive.
What is your go-to time management tool or suggestion, Judy Balaban, Andy Kaufman, Mark Watson, Jane von Kirchbach, George Wang, Lisa Blake, Greg Hall, Cate Brady, Andrew Neuman? Who would like to share?