Archive for February, 2009

Schedule your priorities – in advance!

Posted in Time management/Self-management with tags , , , on February 27, 2009 by Chuc Barnes

aa0538173When working with an audience today, an attendee said, “I keep prioritizing my schedule, yet new items keep showing up. What can I do to make it easier to squeeze the new items into my days?”

This is a typical concern for nearly everyone. If this is a concern for you, my suggestion is this:

Rather than continuing to prioritize your schedules, begin to schedule your priorities (in advance). Weekly schedules are best because you can then be certain that your weekly schedules include personal and professional priorities.

When you schedule priorities in advance (weekly), you’re making commitments to your known priorities by setting aside time to accomplish them. Thus, when new items appear, you can more easily determine the importance of the new items, compared to the importance of the priorities you have scheduled.

If the new items that show up are important to you, schedule them around your already scheduled priorities. If they aren’t as important as the priorities you have scheduled, you can more easily say “no” to them – or perhaps schedule them for a later time — because they conflict with the priorities you’ve already scheduled on your calendar.

Plan tomorrow today!

Posted in Time management/Self-management with tags , , , , on February 24, 2009 by Chuc Barnes

According to a study by the American Psychological Association, 48% of Americans can’t sleep at night and they lie in bed worrying about all the things they have to do. I’m not a physician or a psychologist, but if you’re in the 48% group, I do have a suggestion.

Rather than go to bed with a head full of worries, make a list of the action steps you’re going to take tomorrow to accomplish the priorities that will help you have a successful day. When you make your list, you’ll then be visualizing the actions you’ll take to achieve your goals, rather than worrying about not accomplishing them.

A good plan for tomorrow can be created in 10 minutes or less. That ten-minute time investment will help you see ways to accomplish your goals and just might help you fall asleep more easily. And – just as important — when you wake up, you’ll not only be more refreshed, you’ll know what steps you’re going to take to move yourself forward.

Set time limits for social networking!

Posted in Time management/Self-management with tags , , , on February 21, 2009 by Chuc Barnes

ls009382I can’t help smiling because the February 17 issue of MacLife Magazine has a quick and simple article showing Mac users “how to block time wasting sites during their day so they can get their work done.” It actually shows Mac users “how to block time-wasting sites between the hours of 9-11:30 a.m. and 1-4 on the weekdays and yet still have access after work hours and on the weekends”. If you’re a Mac user, you’ll find the article at:

Whether you’re a Mac user or not, the thing that makes me smile is the fact that many business people are just starting to realize how much time they lose when they switch from the work they need to accomplish to social networking sites such as Facebook, YouTube, etc. Otherwise, the editors of MacLife wouldn’t write about this.

I agree with the editors at MacLife. I’m not saying it’s necessary to block social networking sites, but those sites do have a tempting lure about themselves (I know because I enjoy them too). Even so, we all have work that needs to be accomplished during work hours and, consequently, it’s important to set time limits for yourself whenever you go to a social networking site whether you’re on the job or not.

Without setting a time limit, you’re apt to be seduced to stay at the social networking site longer and longer and thereby not get your work priorities accomplished.

Take an inventory of where your time goes!

Posted in Time management/Self-management with tags , , , , , on February 20, 2009 by Chuc Barnes

I’ve already mentioned (and endorsed) Dr. Edward M. Hallowell’s book, “CrazyBusy,” Here’s another paragraph from his book that’s worth noting:

“Think for a moment about how much time you give away without meaning to: to the television or radio commercial you are putting up with until you get back to the show; to the “friend” you don’t really like; to the e-mail you don’t need to read; to the shopping you don’t need to do; to the memory of the bad thing that was done to you years ago; to the hundredth time you’ve worried about the same matter that’s out of your control; to the nails you can’t stop biting. The more you give attention away, the less you have left for what you need. Attention isn’t infinite, nor is the energy required to focus it.”

Does this paragraph make sense to you? It sure does to me. In fact, I have clients and friends who want help with their time, yet I notice them spending the bulk of their days on social networking sites, while they tell me and other people that they don’t have time for their businesses and for themselves. Not only that, you’ll recall that Barry commented after my last post that we need to “stop and smell the roses.”

Suggestion: If you want more time for you and your business, think about the past week and take a serious inventory of where you invested your time. If you were pouring your time into items that aren’t getting you where you want to go, eliminate those items from the current week and schedule your true priorities so you focus on them and not on the items that steal your time.

Is your brain on overload? You’re not alone!

Posted in Time management/Self-management with tags , , on February 19, 2009 by Chuc Barnes

bu005347A year ago I bought the book, “CrazyBusy” which was written by Edward M. Hallowell, an MD who for years treated young people who had ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). He argues in his book that brain overload has reached the point where our entire society of suffering from culturally induced ADD and he points out that, because of BlackBerries, cell phones, and 24/7 e-mail, longer workdays, escalating demands, and higher expectations at home, we’re all now involved in a state of constant frenzy that is sapping us of creativity, humanity, mental well-being, and the ability to focus on what truly matters. I recommend this book and I want to draw your attention to this paragraph:

“Being too busy, which can seem necessary and unavoidable, can become a habit so entrenched that it leads you to postpone or cut short what really matters to you, making you a slave to a lifestyle you don’t like but can’t escape. You can be so busy,” Dr. Hallowell says, “that you don’t even take the time to decide what actually does matter most to you, let alone make the time to do it.”

I endorse the above paragraph 100%.

This is exactly what audiences and personal clients tell me about the challenges in their days. If you find this to be true for you, please look at Dr. Hallowell’s book and/or refer at the posts I’ve written in this blog. All of the previous posts – and those that follow – are intended to help you (and me) get more value for ourselves in these frantic, chaotic days.

Look at time as an investment

Posted in Time management/Self-management with tags , on February 18, 2009 by Chuc Barnes

skd187720sdcWhen consulting with a client this morning, he said, “Chuc, you keep talking about time as if it’s an investment. Why do you do that?”

My response is that you only have four things you can invest every single day: time, money, energy, and creativity. All four of these are important, yet if you only invest money, you won’t have much of a life. If you only invest your energy, you’re going to get worn out. And, if you only invest your creativity, you’ll keep creating and never get anything done.

When you think of time as an investment, you’ll realize it’s your most precious asset. And when invested in your priorities, time is the one commodity that will help you get a return on the other three and thereby make all your Minutes Count.

Does this ring true to you? Leave your thoughts and comments below. I’d love to hear from you.

Two questions to help you and your team!

Posted in Time management/Self-management with tags , , , , , on February 17, 2009 by Chuc Barnes

In his book, “Grown Up Digital,” (which I’ve already endorsed) Don Tapscott reports:

“For Net Geners, e-mail is so yesterday. It’s what you use when you write a polite thank you letter to a friend’s parent. We asked respondents (Tapscott says) in an nGenera study to describe various means of communication, including face-to-face, e-mail texting, social networking, telephone conversations, and instant messaging. I was amused (Tapscott says) to see that 48% of respondents considered e-mail professional, while another 31% considered it boring. It was also seen as a more formal method of communication. ‘I use e-mail for business type (sic) of things,’ said one respondent. ‘I don’t say to my friends ‘e-mail me later.’”

As a Minutes Count specialist, I think the previous comment quoted from the book is loaded with important information and I’m now asking you: What about you? Are you relying on one method of communication, yet your team would prefer another? If so, that difference could be wasting time for all of you.

Here are two questions to ask your team: 1) What’s the best way for us to communicate and 2) What can we do to save time for each other? I’ve suggested these questions to a multitude of groups and people tell me they don’t like to ask these questions because they have to listen. Isn’t that the point? Listening is part of teamwork and it can help you save hours of time and lots of frustration.

Set time limits for your TV and Internet Use!

Posted in Time management/Self-management with tags , , , , , on February 16, 2009 by Chuc Barnes

034_s_object2In his new book, “Grown Up Digital,” (which I highly recommend) Don Tapscott explains, “The Net Generation watches a lot less TV than boomers did at their age – only 17.4 hours a week.” Tapscott goes on to say, “But of course they spend more time on the Internet – anywhere from 8 to 33 hours a week, depending on the survey. Older Americans,” he reports, “watch more TV and spend less time on the Internet,” What about you?

No matter whether you’re older and watching TV or younger and interacting on the Internet — or maybe you like doing both — realize you are investing a lot of your time in these activities.

My strong suggestion is to set time limits for these behaviors — every day. For example, in advance of your TV shows, determine which ones you’ll watch (Why not record favorite shows?). For the Internet determine for yourself – every day in advance – how much time you’ll invest (I suggest no more than 15 or 20 minutes a day). Realize that, if you don’t follow the time limits you set, the TV shows and the Internet activity will seduce you into staying longer and you’ll later wonder why you didn’t get more done.

Watch out for your #1 time waster!

Posted in Time management/Self-management with tags , , , , , , on February 15, 2009 by Chuc Barnes

002_s_objectWhen I ask audiences to list their biggest time wasters, they nearly always name the obvious interruptions of voice mail, email, waiting for others, etc. Note that these are time wasters we attribute to other people. What most of us often overlook is clutter, a time waster we create for ourselves.

Clutter is an enormous time waster and I endorse the headline Timothy Ferris uses in his book, “The 4-Hour Workweek,” (an excellent book) when he says “When More is Less: Cutting the Clutter.”

Please think with me. It’s estimated that the average executive spends 36 minutes/day looking for lost things. Let’s assume this data is true and, if it is, let’s multiply 36 minutes a day times 5 days a week. The gives us a total of 180 minutes a week (3 hours) of time wasted to look for lost things.

Three suggestions: 1) Clear up your work area, 2) Look at paper as your enemy. (Trash it!), and 3) If you’re not going to act on a paper now, put it outside your line of vision. Otherwise, it will distract you, stress you, and slow you down.

Minimize “Multitasking”!

Posted in Time management/Self-management with tags , , , on February 14, 2009 by Chuc Barnes

When speaking for an audience last week, 23 participants said they are good at multitasking. One woman even said her job description required her to be good at multitasking.

I cautioned them – and I’m cautioning you – to be careful about multitasking. Multitasking is one of the hot bywords of today, yet studies by the Federal Aviation Administration, University of Michigan, and UCLA show that multitasking can be hazardous to your health and that it can lead to numerous physical problems and memory loss.

Here are 3 suggestions for you: 1) Prioritize your tasks. (If you prioritize properly, there’s no need to multitask). 2) Set deadlines for each task – in advance, and 3), Multitask only with low-level activities such as listening to CDs while exercising and watching TV when cooking.