Speaking of time, last week my assistant, Lisa, gave me a wonderful gift, a beautiful hour glass, actually, a half hour glass. She has been using this tools successfully to assist her clients with some difficult tasks. What a great present. I have a tendency to become engrossed in projects that are interesting, but not essential or immediate. On the other hand, there are necessary tasks, such as bookkeeping, that I dread. With these burdensome jobs I often overestimate the time required. The excuse “I don’t have enough time” seeps into my mind. So, I compromise and force myself to stay on task for one turn of the hour glass. It is amazing how much work I can complete knowing I have given myself permission to stop when the sand reaches the bottom of the glass. Thank you again Lisa.

I work with clients who have no idea what their hourly rate is. What I mean is they have never taken their annual salary, divided it by the hours they put in and then calculated just how much they are paid for an hour’s work. If you work long hours take the real number not the thirty-five or forty hour formula many places use. Some of you will be astonished, some dismayed ($150,000 divided by 70 hours is less than you may want to admit). It helps to put into perspective the value of what you work on and how much time you can afford to invest in a task or project. “The number” helps me decide which tasks to delegate or consider letting go. The aforementioned Lisa is just better at many things than I and can do them more efficiently. She actually likes filing! I set aside that work for her.

I once read few people can justify the personal expense of changing their car’s oil (justify, I never thought about it) or doing their taxes. From a cost efficiency perspective the experts are able to produce better results in less time. Are there tasks, projects, relationships you can’t afford, financially or emotionally? What is your plan to change the dynamic?

The term “time management” has been thrown around, and written about a lot over the years. The reality is there are only 24 hours in a day and that is not going to change no matter how many courses you take on managing time. I am more interested in time’s value. To me time is very precious. Maybe it is because I have lost people before their time. One of the lessons of September 11, 2001, for me, was how suddenly your time can be up. Being married to a man considerably older than I has made me value what we have now rather than wait for a better or more convenient time. I am not waiting for a 60th wedding anniversary to have a big party.

In our coaching I always encourage clients to have personal goals as well as professional ones. When they ask me “where do I find the time for a hobby?” my response is often “never take it from sleep, relationships or health care”. For most that leaves work hours. That is a good well to go to since it is deep and full. I guarantee there is time to be found.

So here is the challenge:

  1. Book yourself into project work. Block out time to get into the work. Place it on your calendar. Why? Because when you are asked if you have time for a meeting or conversation you can honestly say “I am booked from 8:30 until 10:30, how about 10:45?” Some of the most productive people I know are artists and writers. Many of them are very disciplined and covet their time, setting aside specific hours for work. My brother-in-law, Dean Kuipers, wrote his critically acclaimed book “Burning Rainbow Farm” by dedicating two hours, very early, every morning, to writing and research. He completed the manuscript while doing his day job and freelance work. Pretty amazing.
  2. Schedule regular time slots to handle routine tasks. I always clean up my e-mails, voicemails and desktop on Fridays. It helps me plan the next week and makes Monday mornings more enjoyable. I also like the sense of being finished at the end of the week. It is time saving as well; you get in a sort of groove (especially with that delete key).
  3. Close your door. Open door policy is a concept not a directive. It does not mean your door is always physically open. Only emergency rooms and convenience stores are available 24/7. You should not be. The stats tell us the average person is interrupted every eleven minutes. For many of us it is much more often. It’s difficult to stay on task when you are hearing staff challenges and thoughts. I would tell my staff “fires and EVPs” meaning I am going to shut my door and would request I not be disturbed except for the above. I’d always give my assistant a time frame for when I will be free so they, and people who called, would know when to try me.
  4. Finish work within a certain time frame. Set a deadline and work within it. The most efficient employees I ever managed were parents of young children. They focused and got things done because expanding the work day was not a possibility when day care closed at 6:00 PM.
  5. Turn off you computer monitor. In both of my offices my computer is behind me rather than on my desk. I am easily distracted visually and incoming e-mails are magnets for my attention. If I really need to concentrate I work with the monitor blacked out. If I am on the computer I only allow the current document on the screen.
  6. Set a timer – on your watch, PDF, computer or buy an hour glass.
  7. Plan the end before you start. When meeting with people decide how long the session will be and state the parameters, such as topics to be discussed. Have standup meetings. Go to the person’s office so you can escape and try not to sit. “I sit all day” is always my excuse.
  8. Calculate your daily rate. If you were a consultant, how much would you charge for your time? Could you justify what you are doing to a paying customer? 

Jane Cranston is an executive coach, career coach and “The Job Search Expert” based in New York City. She shares with success driven executives and professionals techniques, skills and goal setting strategies that advance their careers, increase people management skills and assists them in career change or job search. Receive Jane’s free "Competitive Edge Report" and the free audio download “Creating a Career Strategy” by visiting www.ExecutiveCoachNY.com.

About the Author

Jane Cranston - Executive Coach NY (New York)Executive and career coach, “The Job Search Expert,” Jane Cranston understands the challenges and opportunities in the workplace. She integrates years of experience as an accomplished senior executive with global brand name companies, with the lessons learned from opening three successful businesses, and then applies her education and coach training. This sophisticated mix affords her clients her unique perspective, business sensibility, and entrepreneurial spirit.

Jane is the founder and Managing Director of ExecutiveCoachNY, an executive and career coaching business based in New York City with clients nationwide. She coaches success-driven executives and managers to develop a career strategy that accelerates advancement, increases compensation, enhances people-management skills as well as gets the competitive edge in all business activities.

Coaching with Jane is dynamic, structured, forward-focused as well as fun and inspirational. Working with clients in fields such as finance, technology, media and entertainment, real estate, and the law, she assists them in recognizing and achieving their full potential at work and in their personal lives.

Clients claim coaching with Jane has “changed my career focus,” “helped me better understand how to motivate my staff,” “given me ideas that have increased my income by $100,000s,” and “made me realize what is my part and what isn’t,” and claim coaching is “the best thing you could do for yourself.”

Jane’s soon to be published “Great Job Tough Times” is a step-by-step job search system designed to assist managers and executives looking for employment, or contemplating leaving their current positions, with their resume writing, interviewing skills, networking techniques, and negotiating need to get the right job fast.

Jane Cranston is frequently seen on CNN’s “Your Money” and quoted in nationally syndicated newspapers, magazines, as well as Internet article sites and virtual programs. She authors the free, twice monthly, “Competitive Edge Report.” Learn more on her website www.ExecutieCoachNY.com.


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