Seize Your Time – step away from “managing” time towards seizing your time

I have written earlier about the strangeness of the concept of “time management”((1)), but I continue to bump into elements of the vast industry of time management consulting((2)).  And clients continue to wrestle with how to use their time more effectively.  All of this means that I am continuing to sharpen my practices.As a quick reminder, my basic breakthrough (or is it breakout?) is the idea that the central step in improving the effectiveness of using your time is to seize it. From an earlier posting:

In recent work with clients on time management, we have taken a new tack on this old problem. Before we even begin to do the necessary work of logging time usage, pruning unnecessary meetings, reports, and so on, we have encouraged clients to simply seize a block of time during the week and get to work on the really important things they feel they need to do to improve their contribution to their company.((3))

Several supporting practices for Seize Your Time Work Sessions are worth noting.

Start Small

If you are just getting started on seizing your time, start small. Schedule one hour early or late in the day. These are generally the easiest times of the day. One hour is long enough to really get involved in a project or thought process. As you gain experience you will find a sweet spot for the length of time to seize. I find that three hours is my personal maximum for really being able to concentrate fully on a problem or task. After that I am ready for a break.

No Interruptions

It is relatively easy to tell those physically near you not to bother you during your Seize Your Time work sessions. These days the real difficulty is breaking out of our own interruptive patterns, constantly monitoring emails stopping to respond as they pop up, answering every phone call as the phone rings as though every call was worthy of interrupting whatever you happen to be doing, news feeds pushed to the front of our PDAs, and more. All of these must be silenced during your Seize Your Time work sessions.

Location, Location, Location

This phrase is usually spoken of real estate. But, for your Seize Your Time work sessions setting up your work space so that it can be made private is very important. Then, you need to have the required materials for the tasks your are working on should be readily at hand. You will be stymied if it takes you fifteen minutes to get your materials and tools organized just to get started. Set up a separate drawer, box, or pile, dedicated to your special high value projects. If you need tools, keep them immediately available and proximate to your materials.

 

Footnotes:
  1. in my posting, “Time Management – is now the time to get beyond this distracting oxymoron?” []
  2. I am hardly the only person to note the fallacy of “time management”,here is David E. Allen of Getting Things Done fame on this point []
  3. Seizing Your Time – the first step in time management []