The End of Time Management
Perfection is not when there is no more to add, but no more to take away. – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Being busy is most often used as a guise for avoiding the few critically important but uncomfortable actions (67).
Recall DELA. As an employee it will be DELA. (Definition-Elimination-Liberation-Automation) manly because: If you are an employee and you would work 10 hours a week and produce twice the results of people working 40, the collective request will be, “Work 40 hours a week and produce 8 times the results.” This is an endless game and one you want to avoid (68).
Being Effective vs. Being Efficient
Effectiveness is doing the things that get you closer to your goals. Efficiency is performing a given task (whether important or not) in the most economical manner possible.
- Doing something unimportant well does not make it important
- Requiring a lot of time does not make a task important
WHAT you do is infinitely more important than HOW you do it (69).
Focus on these two questions (71)
- Which 20% of sources are causing 80% of my problems and unhappiness?
- Which 20% of sources are resulting in 80% of my desired outcomes and happiness?
Slow down and remember this: Most things make no difference. Being busy is a form of laziness – lazy thinking and indiscriminate action. Being selective – doing less – is the path of the productive. Focus on the important few and ignore the rest. Lack of time is actually lack of priorities.
There is often no incentive to use time well unless you are paid on commission. The world has agreed to shuffle papers between 9 am and 5 pm, and since you’re trapped in the office for that period of servitude, you are compelled to create activities to fill that time (75).
Parkinson’s Law dictates that a task will swell in (perceived) importance and complexity in relation to the time allotted for it’s completion.
There are two synergistic approaches for increasing productivity that are inversions of each other:
- Limit tasks to the important to shorten work time (80/20)
- Shorten work time to limit tasks to the important (Parkinson’s Law)
The best solution is to use both together: Identify the few critical tasks that contribute most to income and schedule them with very short and clear deadlines (77).
Identify the mission-critical tasks and set deadlines. Even if you know what’s critical, without deadlines that create focus, the minor tasks forced upon you will swell to consume time until another bit of minutiae jumps in to replace it, leaving you at the end of the day with nothing accomplished (78).
Am I being productive or just active = Am I inventing things to do to avoid the important?
Learn to ask, “If this is the only thing I accomplish today, will I be satisfied with my day?”
Don’t arrive at the office or in front of your computer without a clear list of priorities. Take no more than two mission-critical items to complete each day. If you have problems deciding between multiple items ask the above question.
Do not multitask. If you prioritize properly, there is no need to multitask. Do your main tasks separately from start to finish without distraction.
Cultivating Selective Ignorance
Most information is time-consuming, negative, irrelevant to your goals, and outside of your influence.
There are three types of interruptions (96):
- Time wasters: those things that can be ignored with little or no consequences.
- Time consumers: repetitive tasks or requests that need to be completed but often interrupt high-level work.
- Empowerment failures: instances where someone needs approval to make something small happen.
It is your job to train those around you to be effective and efficient. No one else will do it for you.
Batching is also a solution to distracting but necessary time consumers, those repetitive tasks that interrupt the most important.
There is an inescapable setup time for all tasks, large or minuscule in scale. It is often the same for one as it is for a hundred. There is a psychological switching of gears that can require up to 45 minutes to resume a major task that has been interrupted (107).