Time Management Focus

“Great looking list,” I commended. “So, how do you work it?” We had been talking about Marie’s project list and her daily to-do lists.

Her brow furrowed. “I look at the list, and really, I just start working on whatever I think is easiest to get done right then. Or I try to pick off an A priority. But here’s the rub. We just spent half an hour working on this list, and it’s likely I won’t even look at it again until next Tuesday. I don’t use it to focus, I mean, I don’t even look at it. And I don’t know why. And then something falls through the cracks.”

“What do you use to focus?” I asked.

“My calendar. I have a lot of meetings,” she replied. “I live and die by my calendar. I look at it ten times a day.”

“Then, stop making to-do lists,” I challenged.

“But, I thought, as a manager, that I had to make to-do lists? It’s one of those big Time Management ideas.”

I smiled. “That’s the trap everyone falls into. There are only about seven Time Management principles and the dirty little secret is that you cannot use them all, some principles won’t work for you and you won’t work some principles. So stop. Stop doing what doesn’t work and stop feeling guilty about it.”

“So, if to-do lists don’t work for me, how do I keep things from falling through the cracks?”

“What do you use to focus?” I repeated.

“My calendar?”

“Then, everything goes into your calendar.”

“Won’t my calendar get kind of messy?”

“What does it matter? You look at it ten times a day. It’s what helps you focus.”

3 thoughts on “Time Management Focus

  1. Travis

    I’m curious, what do you see as the “seven Time Management principles” (plus or minus 2)?

    Now, I’m not surprised that you cannot use them all, or that some principles don’t work for some people. But I am wondering what they are.

  2. Roger @ Allied Time

    Great advice. Sometimes people forget to think practically. It makes perfect sense for Marie to use her calendar to write down tasks that need to be completed. That’s the document to which she refers throughout the day. I am sure the moment you gave her permission to use her calendar in that way a light bulb went off over her head. Talk about an “Ah-Ha” moment.

  3. Melvin Tan

    Roger: If Marie used Outlook as her Calendar and Outlook as her TO-DO list, then her Calendar would automatically show her the meetings AND her TODO list on the calendar. Microsoft also had an “Ah-Ha” moment and included this feature.

    Putting your TODO list on the Calendar not only keeps you focused, but forces you to do some planning without prioritizing your day Adhoc. 🙂


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