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Entries in time management (84)


Aha! That's My Fourth Ring

We received an interesting insight from a reader:

I just read Juggling Elephants and love it! I understand about the three rings, but the other elephant that I juggle is the house. I have a full-time job that is overwhelming, and the other rings of relationship and self. Three rings might be enough for a man, but what about women - who have another ring - a whole job of taking care of a house and family when they get home?

Our response to her was to look again at the circus and determine what it would do with an extra ring. It would move resources from one or more of the other three rings to help manage the 4th ring. Remember, we can't do it all. We suggested she work with the other performers (spouse, children) to see if they would be willing to help better manage this 4th ring and possibly make it a higher priority in their lineup. Additional performers could be hired (to clean the house, etc.). Lastly, review all the acts in the lineup. Are there some that are more important right now and others that could be postponed or deleted from the lineup.


Fight For The Time That Is Yours!

Bernie Garcia, an 83 year old great-grandmother, was in a tough situation. As she was buying gas for her vehicle, a man approached her and tried to grab her purse. She fought back, and was pulled to the ground and dragged a short distance by the man before another man confronted the would-be robber. The thief was soon caught by local police after he fled in his vehicle.

Ms. Garcia required no medical treatment. What really hit me about her story, however, is what she told her son after the attack. He asked, "Why didn't you just give (the purse) up?" Her reply was, "---- no, that was my purse. I was fighting for what was mine." In her situation, the best thing for her to do was probably give up the purse, but in the heat of the moment it's hard to make the logical choice.

What if you, however, took that same approach today with your time and energy. Don't let unnecessary or frivolous acts in your lineup "steal" your resources, making you unable to accomplish what is most important to you. Remember... you are fighting for something that means more to you than anyone else.


To learn more how a Juggling Elephants program could help your people better "fight" for their time, click here.


Before You Give Up On New Year's Resolutions

At the beginning of the year, it can be very overwhelming to look at our "circus" and think of all the areas where we want to improve our lineup. It can even get depressing for some. New Year's resolutions and our goals for the upcoming year can seem daunting and with almost one month gone in 2008 we forget about them so that we don’t have to face that we are falling short so quickly.

I take strength from the thought, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." Break down your goals into bite size pieces. Spread your goals throughout the year and also be realistic as you make resolutions. Like we say in the book, "What's the best time to bring this new act into the lineup?" Focus on one per week or one per month. One-Two well executed improvements (see blog from Tuesday) are better than 4-5 sloppily attempted that are ultimate failures.

Lastly, look at what acts can be removed from your circus as you look to add new ones. Nothing weighs more heavily on a performer than a line up that is too crowded... that loud crash is an elephant that just fell on someone-don't let it be you.


Before the people in your organization give up on their new year's resolution, consider a webinar on the message of Juggling Elephants. Click here to learn more.


Stop Interrupting My Performance!

A common question we get in training programs is "How do I get other people to stop interrupting me?" If the performers in your circus are breaking up your acts on a regular basis, try these strategies to help stay focused:

  • Clarify the interruptions. When someone says, "Do you have a minute?" give them a specified amount of time that you do have, or say "Not right now. Let's set up a time later to give it the attention your issue deserves." Then, set up a time to meet with them that works better in YOUR lineup. This does not apply in cases of emergency, of course.

  • Determine the reasons for the interruptions. Is it because they have incomplete information? Lack of knowledge about processes/procedures? Boredom/Procrastination on their part OR yours?

  • Be less available/Have something else to do. If they are physically in front of you, use body language to signal that you need to end the conversation. Give a point in time when you can assist them (after I finish this report). Don't respond immediately to e mail (unless required by your supervisor or work team). That's a clear signal that you are fully available.

Remember, you're the Ringmaster of your circus. You have to keep the focus on the right act in the right ring at the right moment.


Managing Meetings In Your Lineup

Meetings are an important part of a lot of our professions. I don''t know many people who just love meetings. Sometimes they are a necessary evil. But nothing is worse than sitting in a meeting that isn't important and thinking the whole time about the huge "To Do List" back at your desk. Meetings can be costly, reduce productivity, and lower morale. Remember this the next time you have an urge to call a meeting. If the meeting is critical here are a few things to remember:

  • K.I.S.S.-Keep It Short Sweetie! Have an agenda, cover the items quickly and then end it. Don’t be afraid to remove all the chairs and call a "stand up meeting." If people are not able to sit down, they will be less likely to drag out a meeting. No one will complain that a meeting ended early.
  • If pulling people together requires significant travel (across campus, across town, or across country) try using technology to facilitate the meeting instead of wasting the time for the commute. There are some great tools that don't cost a lot that can facilitate conducting a meeting across distances. Instant Messaging, web conferencing, conference bridges, and team sites can be used to reduce travel costs and time.
  • If you have reoccurring meetings, like a weekly staff meeting, don’t be afraid to cancel it if there aren’t a significant number of items on your agenda. Otherwise, you will find yourself "making up" things to talk about and therefore wasting time. If this occurs often, decrease the frequency of the meeting to every other week or once a month.

Managing meetings is an important strategy to managing your time. You have enough acts in your circus that need your attention without adding unnecessary meetings and travel time.