Issue No. 356 of Your Weekly Staff Meeting features a very funny and quick-reading time management book. When’s the last time you had a refresher on this core competency? And check out my 2016 book-of-the-year and Top-10 picks here. Plus, this reminder: click here to download free resources from my 20 management buckets (core competencies).
Time Management Made (Stupidly) Easy
Zig Ziglar: "People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing—that’s why we recommend it daily." Ditto on mentoring your team (and yourself) on time management.
So here’s a new one that’s hilarious—and immensely helpful. Funny, very funny—yet fresh (even though we’ve all read our fair share of time management books). This one is different—and here are my Top-10 Take-Aways from Time Management Made (Stupidly) Easy, by Michael R. Clarke.
#1. Honest—ideas on every page. Pick any page, and you’ll get a new idea or be reminded of a big idea you’ve neglected. Example: On page 14 (“Brain Hack #2”), you’ll learn how to create your “Daily Three” list—tasks that must be done before lunch. Brilliant (and so satisfying).
#2. Delete distractions. Oh, my. He excels at really, really practical ways to focus. He claims: “…this one strategy alone has increased my productivity by at least 300%. (And doesn’t require a single six-pack of Diet Mountain Dew.)” He’s a fan of the Pomodoro Method (google it) because:
• “The average worker checks their email 30 times an hour.”
• “The average worker checks their smartphone 150 times a day.”
• “The average worker’s length of uninterrupted focus is eight minutes.”
#3. A 2017 Update on Delegating. The old time management books we’ve read don’t mention “virtual assistants” (because…well, you know why). Clarke’s chapter five—on how to delegate important (but boring) stuff—is fantastic! His three “streamlining secrets” list what you should and should not delegate to VAs. He notes, “Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you’re not AMAZING at everything”—so you must delegate more to virtual assistants.
#4. Resource-rich. Maybe you’re really good at the ABCs of time management, but stink at the XYZs? Clarke points you to innovative resources, like Virtual Freedom: How to Work with Virtual Staff to Buy More Time, Become More Productive, and Build Your Dream Business, by Chris Ducker—“a deep-dive into how to off-load 90 percent of your workload to virtual assistants.”
#5. Try a VA trial test. The author knows us too well! “We’re wired to see a problem and decide the only solution must be ‘another two hours of work.’” The solution: create one task (just one!) this week and delegate it to a virtual assistant (he lists sources). Then “slowly add ONE task each week” until you’re comfortable with using a VA. Brilliant!
#6. Fire your living room! If you work at home (and who doesn’t?), Clarke says your desk (not a typo), your kitchen counter, your bedside table, and your living room are inappropriate buckets for your work stuff. Solution: create focused collection buckets (or “gathering points”) for stuff: The Weekly Box, The Big Tub, and the Day Planner/Padfolio, plus four other “Collection Buckets of Awesomeness.” Nice! He explains this radical, get-organized approach in just three short pages.
#7. The perfect schedule for imperfect people. Chapter 4 delivers very, very simple ideas on planning your day (and week and month)—but not with the stern perfectionista glares of most authors. Brilliant exercise: “Create a ‘perfect day of work,’ your 1-page, 1st-person perspective of your dream working day.”
#8. The author is one of us—and a funny one at that. I think I resonated more with this book (and read more funny paragraphs to my wife) because his casual writing approach invites us in. Discussing how you spend your time now (Chapter 1): “Time tracking is not about making you feel bad. There are plenty of other tools for that. Your Facebook feed. Phone calls with your mother.” He gives four ways to track your time (from paper systems to new apps).
#9. Best ideas come by NOT working so hard. The author quotes Einstein who asked, “Why is it I always get my best ideas while shaving?” He builds a strong case explaining how effective time management will breathe time into your life for R&R and other pursuits—and why your work will benefit. Brilliant.
#10. Picture your future. Every page is profoundly practical—and his idea (never-read-this-before) for creating a photo gallery of your big five life pursuits is do-able! But, he lets us off the hook with this: “I made this optional because, well most people won’t do it.” That got me revved up! So he delivers fun ideas for picturing five areas where you’ll invest your new-found time. Brilliant.
Sorry—but I gotta stop (now that I’m focused on time management). Otherwise, I could have given you a Top-50 list. Really (and the book is less than 150 pages).
#11. Bonus: Five Email Sanity Steps. (OK…one more!) “Every SINGLE email sent to you should have some form of automated response.” Clarke’s five “email sanity steps” may be the best deliverable for you. Dozens of practical ideas in just 10 pages.
I’m guessing this will be on my Top-10 books for 2017.
To order the paperback or the Kindle version from Amazon, click on the title: Time Management Made (Stupidly) Easy: A Modestly Simple Guide to Time Management, by Michael R. Clarke.
Your Weekly Staff Meeting Questions:
1) Michael Clarke: “All the time management principles in the world won’t do much good if you can’t control that most unpredictable and maddening source of workplace distraction…other people!” So when’s the last time you read a helpful time management chapter on (for example), “How to Create a Distraction-Free Cave of Awesomeness?”
2) In his chapter on delegation, the author lists four “automation robot” tools, such as IFTTT (If This, Then That), Evernote, Text Expander, and Google Voice. What tools do you use to save time?
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“You May Be Seriously Overpaid!” Insights from Mastering the Management Buckets: 20 Critical Competencies for Leading Your Business or Nonprofit
Time management is core to the Delegation Bucket, Chapter 16, in Mastering the Management Buckets. When digging for new insights, don’t forget the classics, including:
[ ] How to Delegate, by Alec Mackenzie (39-minute audio) – Note! This time management guru has an “Effective Delegation Quiz” for you—and if you fail the quiz—he says you may be seriously overpaid! Take the quiz here.
[ ] The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results, by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan (my 2016 book-of-the-year)
[ ] Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, by David Allen
[ ] The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey, by Ken Blanchard, William Oncken, Jr. (the original creator of the Monkey workshop), and Hal Burrows
For more resources, visit the Delegation Bucket webpage.
P.S. Read John’s recent blog on board governance, "No Reading Allowed" from his 2017 series on Max De Pree's book, Called to Serve. Plus, the new Murdock Trust Board Program: Book 1 of 2 (194-page workbook), is hot-off-the-press, just edited by John, order here from Amazon.
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