The er of Time Management

Time management is a, pardon the pun, "timeless" workplace topic. We've come to discuss the lack of time almost as much as the weather... and feel almost as helpless to change behaviors to improve our situation. Our struggle is not new to our culture. Even Queen Elizabeth is quoted as saying, All my possessions for a moment of time. We want to manage our time toward better outcomes, but we are overwhelmed with the how.

Today, try a new tactic to improve how you manage the time in your day. Instead of saying you want to work smart today (overwhelming), try working smarter (more doable). For example, if you habitually write long, cumbersome emails, ask yourself how you could make it briefer, not brief. If you are routinely part of long meetings, don't strive for short meetings (overwhelming), focus on how you could make them shorter (doable). The key is to motivate yourself to action with incremental steps.

Now look at your work area. You've left it in a state of disarray because to tackle it all would, you think, upset the delicate balance of the world. Or you stand behind research findings published in the Journal of Consumer Research that said a neat workspace may limit creativity and problem solving. If your work area is limiting your productivity, though, you know something need to change. Instead of trying to create a efficient workspace, ask yourself how you could make it more efficient. You could even target your efforts even more by determining the one thing you could take action right now.

Taking this approach creates momentum you can use as you move through your day to improve your current situation. As Todd Musig and I say in our book, Getting to It, a successful life is a succession of successful Its. Make those small choices of course correction continually, and you might be surprised how much better you are actually managing your time.

By the way-don't forget to continue this "er" approach when you return home, especially as a parent. Instead of asking your child to clean up their room (overwhelming), ask them, "How can you make this room cleaner?" (doable for any age child). Just don't try the tactic with your spouse... you might need the other "ER" if you do.