Re: Time=Life

John P. Satta (
Tue, 17 Dec 1996 18:47:10 -0500

At 12:25 PM 12/16/96 PST, Michael Butler wrote:

>Seriously, one excellent thing to try is to keep your to-dos in a
>prune-able list right next to your calendar (assuming you keep a
>schedule); then be brutal--periodically (weekly?) go down your list
>of to-dos and either schedule a slice of time to _do_ each one, or
>remove it from the list. That's a form of "making" time--committing

That's another of the classic time management techniques. Its really all
about what you commit to doing; commit to others and to yourself. Once you
have made the committment you are less likely to break the promise, even to

The next thing is to stick to the plan despite the "tyranny of the urgent."
Many peple think that important and urgent are synonymous - they aren't.
Often urgent things interrupt important things. "This will just take a
second." It never does.

>It can also be productive to assemble a circle of like-minded folks and
>essentially bet each other about how many "A' priorities you'll get
>done each week. At $1 (or $5 if you're a high roller) per missed
>commitment, some people get motivated...

I like that! I'm gonna try it.

>I'm currently in remission from tightly booked time, but I appear to
>be turning into a manager, so I'll probably relapse shortly. :)

I can relate to that! But as we all know, managers don't really DO
anything. :-) Seriously, I've heard many managers (myself included) say "I
worked my butt off today, I'm beat and I didn't accomplish anything."
Reveiwning the to-do list during the day and especially the NEXT day gives
you a sense of what you did and where you spent your time.

Some little techniques I picked up over the years:

1. During the day record how long you spend on dfferent tasks. When I was
filling out a weekly time card for accounting it really helped to be able
to review the week and know where the time was spent so I didn't spend 30
minutes "making up" the numbers. Since I was always carrying my planner
(but not the time card) I drew an arrow on the daily schedule from the
tasks start to end time and jotted a 2 word note like "strat mtg." This
helped me remember when and how long I wasted, that is, spent in a strategy

2. In the intro to _Don't Shoot the Dog_ about training and behavior
modification the author mentions that "studies show" people who completely
fill in the little box instead of making check marks or X's tend to stick
to their plans (diets and exercise routines) more than the checkers and
Xers. This sounded so absurd I had to try it. Well it works - at least for
me. I think its because it takes less than a second to make a check or X
while coloring in that box completely (and doing a good job) takes 3-4
seconds at least. During that time I concentrate on the fact that I have
COMPLETED something and can revel in the glow, however briefly. Half a
second just ain't long enough to let the sense of accomplishment sink in.
Also, I find a series of filled-in boxes more visually striking than a line
of X's and therefore at the end of the day I feel more successful.

3. When I do a task that wasn't on my list (e.g. an emergency) I put it on
the list so I can fill in another box. I get my 3-4 second instant
gratification and cheap thrill and I lengthen the string of filled in boxes
for future gloating.

While we're on the subject of management, the best management book I've
found is _The Tao of Leadership_ by John Heider. Its a translation of the
Tao Te Ching with a slant towards leadership. I read it straight through
preiodically but I also use it as a daily oracle. I keep it in my desk and
open to a random page every morning before the day gets started. For a book
that was writen over 2500 years ago it certainly is applicable today.


John P. Satta

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