Looking to streamline your daily productivity? Ivy Exec recently had the opportunity to explore Karen Tiber Leland and Keith Bailey’s recent publication, No Nonsense: Time Management.
Leland and Bailey’s book is subtitled ‘50 Tricks to Hack Your Time and Get Everything Done’, and in this article, we’ll be focusing on five key takeaways from this fantastic new resource for procrastinators and self-disciplinarians alike.
Time to Save Time
It’s been over fifty years since Abraham Maslow came up with his POSEC technique for effective use of time: Prioritize, Organize, Streamline, Economize and Contribute.
Karen Tiber Leland and Keith Bailey draw on these tenets, and the work of other experts in the field to create a book that’s broad without ever wasting our time as we seek to maximize more of our own. Citing more contemporary masters like Stephen Covey (First Things First), David Allen (Getting Things Done), and Tim Ferris (The Four Hour Work Week), Leland and Bailey remind us that time is our most important resource, but often the one we spend the least time managing.
Who Are Karen Tiber Leland and Keith Bailey?
Karen Tiber Leland is the founder of Sterling Marketing Group. Her clients have included Twitter, LinkedIn, Apple, American Express, and Google. She is the bestselling author of nine books. Karen is a frequent media expert and has been interviewed by The Today Show, MSNBC, Fortune, Inc., Fast Company, NPR, CNN, and Oprah. She has spoken for Harvard, Yale, and TEDx.
Keith Bailey is an executive communications coach who works with companies such as Google, Fidelity Investments, Bank of America, World Vision, United Health Group, Netflix, Marriott Hotels, Lufthansa German Airlines, and the British government. Keith’s expertise and business insights have been featured in Fortune and Newsweek and on CNN.
5 Key Takeaways from No Nonsense: Time Management
1. Close the Loop
In their book, Leland and Bailey describe a number of ‘Time Crimes’ that many of us are guilty of. A common one comes when we forget to–or refuse to–’close the loop’. Closing the loop can mean finishing on time, but it can also mean responding when someone reaches out to us about a deadline.
While communicating about a missed deadline can be a choice, hitting your targets themselves can be easier said than done. One strategy Leland and Bailey recommend is ‘working backwards.’ That means starting to plan what you need to accomplish starting with the end goal, and mapping each step along the way working back from there.
To use a simple example, if you have a dinner reservation at 7:00 you might think you can start getting ready to go at 6:30, until you map back and find that parking, driving, getting dressed and logging out from work are all part of the task at hand.
2. Get Specific
Wondering where all your time is going? If you’re really feeling ‘time illiterate,’ you might want to keep an activity log, making a note of what you do over a given week, and recording the time it took you. And if you’re not finding time for the big personal stuff you need to get done, why not set a time frame? Instead of saying you’d like to find a new job, why not add a time frame to the goal–something like ‘Within the next year, I’m going to move to a new company.’
To really make sure those big goals get accomplished, you might want to set aside a specific amount of time each day to be working on it. In the above example, that might mean ten minutes a day in the evening looking at job postings, updating your resume, or reaching out to career counsellors.
3. Interrupt Interruptions
Just like the activity log above, we can also keep a log of interruptions. Each time you realize you’ve gotten distracted, or something unexpected takes you out of your routine, make a note of what that distraction was and how long it cost you. The first step to addressing a problem is defining it.
4. Can’t Avoid Interruptions? Schedule Them
As you might find, whether you’re at home or at the office, sometimes distractions just can’t be anticipated. Keeping an ‘open door hour’ can let the people around you know there’s a specific time that you’re more prepared to have your work diverted. Alternatively, if you know there’s a certain time people distract you but you just don’t have the time to be derailed one day, you might use that time block to change locations, moving your laptop to somewhere more private.
5. Do the Hard Part Last
It sounds counter-intuitive, but sometimes it helps to get the hardest task done last. Citing Victor Gonzalez from The Tecnologico Autonomo in Mexico, Leland and Bailey showed that most of us are more likely to interrupt ourselves earlier in the day. And doing the easy work first can also help us build momentum as we approach whatever’s the most time exhaustive, or the most daunting.
The Time is Now
The sooner you get a handle on where your time is being used–productively or otherwise–the more time you can save in the long run. As Karen Tiber Leland and Keith Bailey remind us in No Nonsense: Time Management, ‘We can all learn to make the most of our day’. If that sounds like something you need to spend more time on, this could be a great book to get you there.
Are you making the best use of your time? Learn more with Ivy Exec’s Career Advice.