Are You Spending Your Time the Right Way?


I've been listening to the the HBR Ideacast podcast series on my iPhone/iPod at the gym lately.

Episode 101 published on July 14th 2008 was pretty interesting and I think everyone can apply these principles to their work place.

It is titled "Are You Spending Your Time the Right Way?"

Melissa Raffoni covered three key concepts that I try to use:

The second organisation I worked for had a terrible problem: death by meeting. Thankfully, we were able to bring some order to the chaos by instigating a tighter process around meeting agendas and documenting meeting minutes. Today, I will usually refuse to attend a meeting that doesn't have a clear agenda that people can use to prepare for.

Time boxing is fundamentally about dividing up your time and allocating that to tasks - a pretty fundamental concept of time management. The important thing about time boxing is that time is not flexible, but the deliverables are. Without time boxing, when the deliverables cannot be delivered, the deadline slips. With time boxing, the deadline is fixed, and the deliverables are adjusted.

A point Melissa makes is that you can't create more time in your day, but you can use it more economically. For example, have you noticed how most 1hr meetings follow a similar pattern? The meeting starts with everyone rock'n' up and small talk. A good meeting host will kick off the meeting (hopefully with a clear agenda and desired outcomes - see more on this below). The meeting either gains momentum and fulfills it's objectives, or, and more commonly, the meeting snakes down 'rat holes' of distraction and people get bored, with the meeting finally closing rather out of breathe. Try making that meeting 30mins and see what happens to the dynamics. I typically find that when faced with a shorter deadline, people are more engaged and focused on the objectives more than they would be with a 1hr meeting.

Tanzim makes a great point on his blog: Time saving (via processes like Time Boxing) for work is very important, but it will limit your productivity only to the hours you saved.

Leveraging time is about using the finite time we have more effectively. A lever is a device that multiplies the effort applied.

As a manager, I know that by spending time with my team members and coaching them, I'm going to get a whole lot more done than if I attempt to do their tasks myself. Therefore, that is a great time leverage choice for me in order to reach the organisation's goals.

Finally, as a sales professional, I'm acutely aware of spending my time with the best employees , so I try and do this as much as possible. Spending time with the right people gives you even better leverage.

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posted by Lee Gale @ 3:09 PM,

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