Time Management Lesson #2 – Just Leave Me Alone!

No, not YOU!  I’m talking about all those calls and interruptions that keep happening every day, stopping you when you’re in mid-flow on something and making it really tough for you to concentrate on getting stuff done.  But you can have better time management, with just a little effort.

Most people tell me they don’t have time to do all the things they want to do in business.  But, I can comfortably bet £20 with everybody who tells me this because I know you have around 1-2 hours of wasted, dead time per day that achieves nothing.  I might lose the odd £20, but for every 100 people, I reckon I’ll win at least 90% of the time.

How do I know this?  As a business coach I see the symptoms in new clients all the time.  Here’s my top 10 list of time-eaters – because by stopping you getting stuff done, you’re never going to get where you want to be…

  1. Taking unsolicited calls any time of day – letting others dictate when you can do work is never a good policy.  Schedule meetings with yourself in your diary to keep some time free for project work and business development.
  2. Reading junk mail – that’s why we call it junk mail – throw it away!
  3. The News.  What real impact does it have on your life and how do you change as a result?  Exactly – it does not help you live your life or achieve more.
  4. TV soap operas – don’t kid yourself that it’s "unwinding" or "relaxing" – they’re not – they are full of bitterness, despair and pity.  Listen to some great music, play a sport or read a book to unwind.
  5. Responding to emails as soon as they come in.  Why?  Set aside a few times during the day when you can follow up your emails and discipline yourself to use time more wisely.
  6. Not having a daily To-Do list – if you don’t know what you need to do, you will go around in circles all day long.
  7. Not taking care of yourself first – you’re the boss, you need to look after yourself – exercise, walk the dog, go jogging.  Never let yourself get squeezed out of your schedule.
  8. Instant messaging to friends on the Internet – talk to them properly later, don’t be distracted by interruptions every five minutes!
  9. Browsing the Internet – too easy to become engrossed in something that has no value to you – probably my own worst distraction.  Close your browser window when you’re done to signal to your brain that you need to concentrate.
  10. Doing 2 things at once.  While the female of the species is better than the male at multi-tasking, doing your most important task with your full attention will always get it done faster.

 Make a plan to eliminate 1 of these time wasters from your life today and get more done.



  1. Howard Fine on August 26th, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    I’m also always interested in improving my time management… I find that prioritizing my daily things to do list has proven highly effecient in improving mine.

    Another post shared a new method for prioritizing that was new to me, I went to the posted link and was impressed enough that I eagerly signed up to beta test the new product. You might want to check it out with your experience and knowledge.



    Howard Fine

  2. Lee on August 26th, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    That looks to me like a case of technology filling a gap that humans are quite able to fill on our own, Howard!

    I find that a combination of good facts, gut instinct and a little creative thought works pretty well for me when it comes to making decisions.

    I guess it might work OK for major decision making in a multi-national, but it looks a bit heavy-handed for us smaller business folks.

    Do post back with your experiences after you’ve tried it out, Howard, would be interesting to hear whether it’s helpful to you or just slows down your working.



  3. Howard Fine on August 26th, 2008 at 11:58 pm

    Will do… I’ve gone on gut a lot also, but I must admit on some critical decisions (those with a substantial financial risk associated with a wrong decision) I suffered “after decision remorse” wondering if I’ve REALLY considered everything… also, there are times when I’ve been trying to come to a ‘collaborative’ decision with an associate, and this product appears to be able to meld both decision analyses into one decision… so looks interesting… I’ll share my experiences when I get to beta test it next month.



  4. Lee on August 27th, 2008 at 12:07 am

    Brilliant thanks Howard, I can certainly relate to a time when I’ve gone against my gut and regretted it later on.  Curiously "buyers remorse" is something well understood in sales and marketing and the best firms always offer something to help confirm you’ve made a good decision straight after the sale.

    Hmm, here’s an interesting thought to add to your testing. Various tests have proven that human decision making uses both our higher brain functions of logic and also our emotional brain centre too. This is why we buy the car from the garage we "like the most", rather than the one that was giving the best deal by £50.

    We then do something called "post-rationalisation" where we come up with all the logical reasons to back up our emotional decision. Interesting animals, us humans!

    I think I may be going off at a tangent from time management here. Ah well, I find psychology and behaviour so fascinating and powerful when coaching.

    Cheers, Lee

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