Reader Views is pleased to have with us, Pamela Dodd, author of “The 25 Best Time Management Tools & Techniques: How to get more done without driving yourself crazy. "
Irene: What inspiration did you have to write this book?
Pamela: My coauthor is an executive coach in New York City. The average compensation of his clients tops $500,000 a year. Without exception, time management is a sticky issue they all face. We wanted to recommend a good, easy time management book for them to read, but we couldn’t find one. So we wrote our own, condensing the best information from the top 20 time management books on Amazon based on customer reviews.
Irene: You co-authored with Doug Sundheim, your consulting partner. Give us some insight on co-authoring a book.
Pamela: Like anything else, co-authoring takes good planning. Who has the most energy around the book and is willing to take the lead? How will the work be divided up? What skills does each author bring to the table? What are realistic deadlines to set? As the old saying goes, without planning our work and then working our plan, the book wouldn’t have been written.
Irene: You suggest keeping track of “everything" that one does from the time they wake up to the time they go to sleep. That is a big commitment to make. Do you have any tips of how to ease into this exercise without feeling pressured for time?
Pamela: Most of us have no idea how much time we spend on things in a day. So it’s hard to begin to figure out how to manage time better if we continue spending too much time on nonproductive activities.
Keeping a Time Log is a big commitment, with an even bigger payoff. The key is simply to find a method that is compatible with your work style and use it for one week. Carrying a small notebook is perhaps the best way. Every 5 to 10 minutes, jot down what you’re doing, even if it’s just daydreaming. The first day is the hardest. Take it a day-at-a-time, if you wish. However, you’ll need a week to get sufficient data to see where your time is going.
An added bonus - you may never need to keep a Time Log again, but you’ll have exercised your time management radar so you can naturally, almost automatically stop wasting time and start using it productively, every day.
Irene: I like that you suggest writing a vision statement, including the realistic as well as the inspirational aspect and then share it with someone. Who do you suggest that “someone" should be?
Pamela: At a minimum, your vision statement should be shared with family, friends, and your closest business associates. The more you share your vision with others, the more it comes alive. You feel increasingly more comfortable choosing to do those things that align with your vision and dropping those things that don’t. Paradoxically, life gets easier as you accomplish more.
Irene: In the book you suggest many tools for keeping oneself organized by using a tickler file. Would you give us a brief description of what a tickler file is and how one can use it with the most benefit.
Pamela: If you’re an active person, you’ve got lots to do. But you obviously can’t do it all at once or all at the same time. So you need to organize yourself in the best way to be doing things when they need to be done.
A tickler file allows you to store things so they show up when you need them. That way they aren’t cluttering up your desk and your mind. Instead of adding a to-do to a pile, where it can easily get buried and forgotten until it’s too late, you file it in a nearby folder. Most people use monthly and daily folders. Need to do something next month? Put it in that folder. The first of that month, go through the folder and reassign items to the folder of the day (or week) you’ll do it. That day (or week), pull the folder out and do it!!
If you’ve never used a tickler file, it takes a while to get into the habit of using it. But when you do, you’ll get more done, worry less, and have far fewer things that fall though the cracks.
Irene: You suggest setting up interviews with several people that know you well. Would you tell our reading audience the purpose for these interviews and what one would ask.
Pamela: Most of us operate on little or no feedback about how we affect others. Formal performance appraisals, done by only one person, usually don’t give us sufficient information to know what we’re doing well and what we may need to change.
Setting up your own informal face-to-face or telephone interviews is a great way to learn more about yourself. (Email is NOT a good medium for these kinds of interviews).
The idea is to ask several people who know you well about yourself and then just listen to what they have to say. You might ask: What am I really good at? What do I need to improve? What’s my best-kept secret? What can/can’t you count on me for?
Interviewers are usually surprised at what others see in them that they don’t see.
Irene: What are your own personal time management tools that work best for you and why?
Pamela: As organized as I thought I was, I wasn’t very good at planning and prioritizing. I used to jump into doing things without careful thought. Now my best tools are (1) a personal organizer I use faithfully and carry with me everywhere, (2) a tickler file, (3) ABC priority lists, which I keep digitally so I can edit them as I finish things and new things pop up, and (4) close-at-hand Action files so my current projects have a folder home and don’t reside as piles on my desk, shelves, or floor. Now there’s nothing more rewarding to me than a clean desk!
Irene: Of all the tools that you present in the book, what would you say is the most productive?
Pamela: I particularly like the suggestions in the Prioritize chapter. Priorities are the bridge from our goals to our accomplishments. Yet most of us don’t have good systems for choosing our priorities. Making lists, using the ABC system, following the 80/20 rule, and asking yourself key questions as you work all help you use time more wisely.
Irene: Thank you Pamela for you time. Is there anything else you would like to add for our reading audience?
Irene Watson is the Managing Editor of Reader Views, an online book review service. She is also the author of her memoir “The Sitting Swing" and designs/facilitates workshops and retreats from her office in Austin, TX. http://www.readerviews.com