"It's time for Time."
John Lennon (as a cartoon
in the movie Yellow Submarine (1968)
Author's Note: For years, I used the phrase, "It's time for time," without realizing that the line did not originate with me. A single viewing of Yellow Submarine had made the phrase a permanent part of my consciousness.
The material about time includes the song, "When I'm Sixty-Four." At about one minute and 25 seconds into the song, the film tells the viewer that:
"Sixty-four years is 33,661,440 minutes and one minute is a long time."
Using the psychedelic imagery of the movie, the segment counts up the seconds, going all the way to 64. The idea is to show how long a minute is when you really pay attention.
Yellow Submarine movie quotes
AN UNHURRIED LOOK
AT TIME MANAGEMENT
© 1995, 2012 by Grady McAllister.
All Rights Reserved.
By Grady McAllister
Presented December 10, 1995
The University of Houston
College of Technology
This paper was written by Grady
McAllister. It was completed as a research project for
a class in Occupational Technology at the University of Houston.
The ideas expressed do not represent the views of the University
of Houston or the College of Technology.
This material is a presentation of The Vasthead.
"Get your attitude straight,
'Cos it's all in your mind
The Kinks (1986).
And it's never too late to get a new design
And if you wanna compete you gotta visualize
Flash those teeth, come on open those eyes
In today's competitive
environment, there are all sorts of materials on how to be
successful. Some are about visualizing your way to success.
Some are about selling your way to success. Some are about
the body language of success. Some are about arguing your
way to success. Some are about networking your way to success.
Some are about dressing for success.
Some are about success
Any material that takes
an overall approach to success has something to say about
time management: It is only through time that any kind of
success can be achieved.
In his book The 100% Solution,
Mark McCormack points to excessive time with a newspaper as
a symbol for all wasted time:
There are moments when all of us
do the equivalent of scanning the newspaper rather than
create some news of our own. This could be time spent
as a couch potato in front of the television, when blessed
silence would be more soothing or constructive. It could
be a whole morning waiting for someone…Or minutes
wasted standing in line…
We should ask ourselves whether
better planning would cut back on those hours that add
up astonishingly. Remember, these moments are our "prime
time" that we can never recapture. And we have only ourselves
Robert Ringer, author
of Million Dollar Habits, says:
I believe that the source of most
people’s frustration is that there are only 24 hours
in a day, and we can never really seem to find the time
to work on the really important things, the things that
Ringer advocates the "self-discipline"
to devote at least four hours a day to "quite, creative thought."
He tells people in any career to "learn to do it religiously
if you aspire to rise above mediocrity."
And then, there are the
time management trainers. Rather than just a slice of advice,
they offer an entire system to help capture time.
THE BUSINESS OF BUSY-NESS: THE
GHOST OF WORKPLACE PRESENT
When Alan Lakein published his classic book, How To Get
Control Of Your Time and Your Life (1973), he claimed to operate
"the only company in the country devoted exclusively to time
management." Nothing like that is true today. Time management
experts are superabundant.
Recent time management authors Merrill
and Donna Douglas have seen interest in their subject swell
as time itself seems to shrink:
Although time management has always
been important, it is only in recent years that large numbers
of people have devoted much attention to it. Forty years
ago there were no books and only an occasional article.
Even twenty years ago there were only two or three books
and a handful of articles. Few companies were teaching time
management in the 1970’s. Now there are hundreds of
books and thousands of articles, and every major company
They suggest three reasons for the
- Ever higher expectations on the
job. "Very seldom do people report that this year their
organization expects less of them than last year!"
- A rising complexity in the work
environment. Some of the elements are foreign competition,
total quality management, self-directed work teams, and
- When the pace of change becomes
greater than an individual’s ability to cope with
it, problems develop. Most of these problems revolve around
Because time management really means
the control of events, it can be tied to many other professional
development topics. These include communications, mission
statements, team building, continuous learning, problem-solving,
In his discussion of time management,
Mark McCormack says that decision-making has become captive
to today’s rapid pace:
Slow decisions are usually better
than fast ones. No decisions are better than wrong ones.
The world prefers fast decisions
to slow ones, wrong ones to none at all…In an accelerated
age, where people put a premium on speed and hyper-efficiency…you
have to fight like mad against the impulse to rush a decision…
Unfortunately, a lot of people
can’t deal with that…And so they importune
us for snap decisions. They make us supply the answers
as quickly as they ask the questions.
And that is a dangerous way to
High technology is one of the reasons
for this rush to decide:
Word processors smother us with
documents, seducing us into believing we are adequately
informed. FAX machines make even the most trivial request
seem urgent. Overnight deliveries force us to respond
in kind: We make decisions overnight…
McCormack believes that modern office
technology may be "prodding us too quickly to make decisions
that need far more thought."
Sometimes people push up the pace just
to appear busy. A. Roger Merrill, coauthor of First Things
First (1994), writes about an R&D division in which he
was expected to teach time management. Before offering any
training, Merrill did some analysis:
As I was escorted from one office
to another, I became increasingly intrigued to see the
identical scene over and over again. In each office, a
somewhat frazzled man or woman — one hand on the phone,
another on the computer, desk literally piled with papers—would
look and say, "just a minute! I’ll be right with
After hurriedly completing some
task or phone conversation, the person would sigh, take
a quick look at the clock, and push papers aside long
enough to tell me how incredibly busy they were and how
there was literally more to do than could possibly be
When walking between offices, they
rushed down the halls. They increased their pace whenever
they walked in front of someone else’s door.
There was "a sense of gushing energy
and panic everywhere." These people, Merrill decided, did
not want time management. The wanted to look overwhelmed.
Their business was busy-ness.
Merrill returned to the manager of
I said, "These people love urgency.
They’re out there trying to convince each other
and themselves that they have more to do than anybody
else. This is where they’re getting their security.
Urgency dominates the culture. I suspect that the real
problem is that nobody really knows what the priorities
She sighed, "That’s right.
There’s a big power struggle between the vice-presidents
in terms of what R&D is supposed to do. Each one has
a following. Frankly we’re at odds with each other.
There’s not a clear set of signals. We don’t
know how long it's going to last, but one of these days
things are going to come unglued."
The employees were keeping frantically
busy in order to maintain their identity and security in the
organization. They wanted to seem as if they were really needed.
Shortly thereafter, the big shake up came and many lost their
jobs anyway. Merrill writes:
Before their reorganization we
could have taught traditional time management till we
were blue in the face. The core problem was a lack of
a shared vision.
Whether or not it is always productive,
the breakneck pace will only increase in the years ahead.
FUTURE SHOCK REVISITED: THE GHOST
OF WORKPLACE TO COME
David Ricardo (1772-1823) was one of
the first economists to recognize that the time it takes to
make an item is an important part of its value. In Power Shift
(1990), Alvin Toffler portrays a future in which the value
of time is far more critical than ever before. It is a world
in which entire nations are either "fast" or "slow":
Their pace is determined be the
speed of transactions, the time needed to make decisions,
the speed with which new ideas are created in laboratories,
the rate at which they are brought to market, the velocity
of capital flows, and above all the speed with which data,
information, and knowledge pulse through the economic
According to Toffler, the rapid pace
of the American economy is starting to bring back some jobs
that had been farmed out to slower, cheap labor countries:
"These shifts can be traced, in part, to the rising importance
of time in economics." More than a matter of technology, home-based
operations increase the speed with which decision can be implemented,
controlled, and changed.
Time becomes a ghost in the economic
machine, a spirit that feeds on itself:
In due course, the entire wealth
creation cycle will be monitored as it happens…making
each unit of time more valuable than the last…a positive
feedback that accelerates the acceleration. The consequences
of this, in turn, will not be merely evolutionary, but revolutionary,
because real-time work, management, and finance will be
radically different from even today’s most advanced
BACK TO THE CANCELED FUTURE: THE
GHOST OF WORKPLACE PAST
Time, like a precious metal, seems
to become more scarce even as it increases in value. For many
workers, this can translate into longer days for smaller prizes.
A generation ago, the future seemed
to offer something very different. Robert Half, founder of
the personnel recruiting agency, Robert Half International,
Back in the 1950's, when the economy
was booming, housing was plentiful and cheap, and jobs
were easily available…there was a growing emphasis
on leisure time. It wasn't a negative thing; it didn't
represent a generation lazier than the previous one. A
recurring time management topic of that era was what to
do with the increasing abundance of leisure time that
was sure to come. It was widely hoped that this new time
ownership would mean more time for intellectual growth
and the betterment of society. The editors of Life proclaimed
that the United States was on the edge of "golden age"
in which an American would be: Freer and bolder than the
Greeks, more just and powerful than the Romans, wiser
than the Confucian, saner than the French, more responsible
than the Victorian, and happier than all of them together.
As late as 1967, expert testimony before
a Senate subcommittee predicted that by 1985 we would be able
to choose between a 22-hour workweek, a 27-week work year,
and retirement at age 38.
BACK TO REALITY
By 1989, the world looked very different.
The paucity of time (the reality) had reached a point where
it rated a cover story in Time (the magazine). Nancy Gibbs
wrote in the April 24 issue:
These are the days of the time
famine. Time that once seemed free and elastic has grown
tight and elusive, and so our measure of it’s worth
has dramatically changed. One of the factors cutting into
free time was the need for constant training and retraining:
The pace of change and the explosion mean that professionals
are swamped with too many facts to absorb. Meanwhile,
the drill press operator discovers that the drill comes
with a computer attached to it. Workers find that it takes
all of their energy to remain qualified for their jobs,
much less acquire new skills that might allow for a promotion.
According to Harvard economics professor
Juliet B. Schor, "From the end of the 1960’s to the
present, Americans have increased the time spent at work by
almost 160 hours—or nearly one month—per year. In The Overworked
American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure (1992), Schor
says Americans work more hours than any other industrial country
Even that difference, she says, is
offset by the fact that Japan’s mostly male workers
do nearly all of their work on the job and almost none in
the home. The same can not be said of American workers, whether
male or female.
Echoing Schor’s finding, a Lou
Harris survey reports that leisure time has shrunk nearly
40 per cent since 1973. The average workweek has expanded
from 40 to 47 hours, and in some professions 60 hour workweeks
have become common.
Ralph Keys, author of Timelock (1991),
From telegrams to faxes, one technological
innovation after another has met our demands for a faster
tempo, then speeded it up some more. Labor-saving devices
eased the drudgery of our lives but added to the expense.
So we become two-paycheck families, work overtime, and
We’re time warriors who keep
huge appointment calendars…buy gadgets that promise
to save us time, give up such activities as reading as
luxuries from the past, try to do everything just a bit
faster and wonder why none of the above seems to ease
time’s crushing pressure.
THE QUEST FOR THE PERFECT ORGANIZER
PART ONE: TIME IN A SEVEN-RING
In a quest to win back time, many people
turn to time management tools to plan and record events. For
pragmatic personalities, an organizer can seem like the perfect
way to keep up with what to do, when to do it, and how to
Stephen Covey calls this the "Magic
Tool Approach" to time management. In First Things First he writes:The Magic Tool Approach is based on the assumption that the right tool (the right
calendar, the right planner, the right computer program,
the right handheld or laptop computer) will give us power
to create quality in or lives. These tools typically help
us keep track of priorities, organize tasks, and more easily
access key information. The basic assumption is that systems
and structures can make us more effective.
Classy-looking leather planners
have even become something of a status symbol—an indicator
that people are on the fast track and really have their
According to Covey, there is much merit
in the idea of using the right tool for the job. A tool can
help you keep track of priorities, keep goals in front of you,
organize tasks, and organize and quickly access information: The sheer number of both paper-based
and electronic tools on the market suggests that this is a
highly popular approach. Tools are a symbol of hope. There’s
a sense of order that comes from having something in hand
that suggests order. There’s a feeling of satisfaction
in writing things down, checking things off, keeping track
of things in our lives. Covey also points to some weaknesses in
the "magic tool" approach. One is that it fails to consider
the "extrinsic realities that govern the quality of life." Another
is that no tool or technology is a substitute for "vision, judgment,
creativity, character, or competence."
A person becomes like the frustrated
photographer who believes that a highly programmed camera
is necessary for a good photograph:
A great camera doesn't produce
a great photographer. A great word processor doesn't make
a great poet. Neither will even a great organizer make a great
life — although a new planner or organizer often carries
such an implied promise. A good tool can enhance our ability
to create quality of life, but it can never create it for
us. The printed organizers come in sizes ranging
from pocket size to legal-page size. More and more an organizer
is a program for a personal computer or stand-alone digital
However, the typical organizer is a
seven-ring binder with sheets that are half-letter size. The
best known organizers are the Day-Timer, the Day-Runner, and
the Franklin Day Planner.
Here are some elements that most organizers
have in common:
This list includes actions that help achieve
the goals. It is also a place holder for other tasks such as
ordering office supplies or cleaning out the garage. It can
be written either as a single list or as a separate list for
- A place for recording personal goals
and goals with an organization.
- A place to list all the tasks that
need to be done.
Most planning tools include one-page monthly
calendars and additional one-page calendars for future years.
The Stephen Covey First Things First system adds weekly
calendars to encourage weekly planning.
- Calendars for weekly, monthly, and
The daily calendar has separate places
for tasks and appointments. In the appointment section, you
write only items scheduled for a specific time. The task list
is a place to write all the other actions planned for the day.
There can also be sections to record expenses and telephone
- Calendars for daily planning.
Most daily planning pages include space
for recording data received on that day.
- A place for frequently used telephone
- A way of organizing material according
to the subject matter.
- An organizer may include tabbed
divider sheets. Users can assign tabs to subjects that meet
their specific needs. Examples include: values and goals
lists, mission statements, ongoing projects, hobbies, persons
spoken to on a regular basis, agenda for meetings, and favorite
- A system for recording and retrieving
A simple retrieval system is to attach
a paper clip or Post-It ™ to any page with important
information. Another method is to look at the monthly calendars
to get back to information on a daily page.
A more comprehensive approach is to
create a summary index: List each day of the month and write
a key word for each item on that date. Some people keep a
card catalogue that records all the dates when a subject appears.
Any tool is only a tool; it is not
the actual control of events. Yet, probably more than any
other people in the world, Americans have always searched
for methods to help assure success.
TIME CAPSULES FROM AMERICA'S PAST
In working toward his doctorate, Stephen Covey conducted a
systematic study of American success literature since 1776.
In The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People (1989)
I began to feel more and more that
much of the success literature of the past 50 years was
superficial. It was filled with social image consciousness,
techniques and quick fixes…
In stark contrast, almost all the
literature in the first 150 years focused on what could
be called the Character Ethic as the foundation
of success —things like integrity, humility, fidelity,
temperance, courage, justice, patience, simplicity, modesty
and the Golden Rule…
But shortly after World War I the
basic view of success shifted from the Character Ethic
to what we might call the Personality Ethic.
This Personality Ethic appeared in two
forms: One was human and public relations
techniques, and the other was positive mental attitude (PMA).
Some of this was expressed in inspiring and sometimes valid
maxims such as "Your attitude determines your altitude"…
Other parts of the personality
approach were clearly manipulative, even deceptive, encouraging
people to use techniques to get other people to like them,
or to fake interest in the hobbies of others to get out
of them what they wanted, or to use the "power look,"
or to intimidate their way through life…
The basic thrust of this literature
was "quick-fix influence techniques, power strategies, communications
skills, and positive attitudes."
A BOOK OF VIRTUES
One example of the early character-based
advice is Benjamin Franklin's autobiography. In it, Franklin
describes his thirteen "virtues," values that he
worked to establish as permanent habits in his life:
1. TEMPERANCE. Eat not to Dullness.
Drink not to Elevation.
2. SILENCE. Speak not but what may
benefit others or your self. Avoid trifling Conversation.
3. ORDER. Let all your Things have
their Places. Let each Part of your Business have its Time.
4. RESOLUTION. Resolve to perform what
you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.
5. FRUGALITY. Make no Expense but to
do good to others or yourself: i.e., Waste nothing.
6. INDUSTRY. Lose no Time. Be always
employ'd in something useful.—Cut off all unnecessary Actions.—
7. SINCERITY. Use no hurtful Deceit.
Think innocently and justly; and, if you speak; speak accordingly.
8. JUSTICE. Wrong none, by doing Injuries
or omitting the Benefits that are your Duty.
9. MODERATION. Avoid Extremes. Forbear
resenting Injuries so much as you think they deserve.
10. CLEANLINESS. Tolerate no Uncleanness
in Body, Cloaths or Habitation.
11. TRANQUILLITY. Be not disturbed
at Trifles, or at Accidents common or unavoidable.
12. CHASTITY. Rarely use Venery but
for Health or Offspring; Never to Dulness, Weakness, or the
Injury or your own or another's Peace or Reputation.
13. HUMILITY. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
Franklin explains how he endeavored
to make each virtue a reality:
I judg'd it would be well not to distract
my Attention by attempting the whole at once, but to fix it
on one of them at a time, and when I should be Master of that,
then to proceed to another, and so on till I should have gone
thro' the thirteen.
Franklin produced a book that contained
a page for each virtue. At the top of each page was its name
and its clarifying statement.
He divided each page into rows and
columns. Along the left side of the page, he listed all thirteen
virtues. Along the top, he wrote the days of the week. This
layout created boxes for each virtue under each day of the
He put a black dot in a box for each
time he violated a virtue, but he put his main effort on one
virtue at a time:
I determined to give a Week's strict
Attention to each of the Virtues successively. Thus in the
first Week my great Guard was to avoid every the least Offense
against Temperance, leaving my other Virtues to their ordinary
Chance, only marking every Evening the Faults of the Day.
To help satisfy his desire for "Order," he created
a schedule for all of his regular activities. Franklin admits
that he had trouble actually following his schedule. His reason
is one that most people could relate to today: "tho'
it might be practicable where a Man's Business was such as
to leave him the Disposition of his Time" it became difficult
when someone "must mix with the World, and often receive
People of Business at their own Hours."
American literature also offers example
of people who try to plan their day—often with ironic results.
We find two examples in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (1925). Gatsby is an ambitious entrepreneur
who has quickly made a fortune as a bootlegger. He buys a
mansion on Long Island to be close to a former lover, Daisy.
She is a society woman who has since married a rich husband,
Meanwhile, Tom has acquired a mistress,
Myrtle Wilson. In a scene early in the novel, Myrtle lists
her planned activities:
I’m going to make a list
of all the things I've got to get. A massage and a wave,
and a collar for the dog, and one of those cute little ash
trays where you touch a spring, and a wreath with a black
silk bow for mother’s grave that’ll last all
summer. I’ve got to write down a list so I won’t
forget all the things I’ve got to do. When Daisy accidentally kills Myrtle in
a hit-and-run accident, Tom convinces her husband that Gatsby
was the driver. The husband kills Gatsby before taking his own
Although Gatsby had conducted lavish
parties, involving hundreds of revelers, only two appear for
his funeral. Gatsby’s father, Mr. Gatz, arrives shortly
before the burial. Gatz is met by Nick Caraway who serves
as narrator in the novel.
Mr. Gatz shows Carraway a book which
Gatsby had owned as a boy. It includes a daily schedule with
an exact time for such activities as "practice elocution,
poise and how to attain it," and "study needed inventions."
It also includes a list of goals ("resolves") such as "bath
every other day" and "read one improving book or magazine
Caraway describes the scene this way:
"I just come across this book by
accident," said the old man. "It just shows you, don’t
it? . . .Jimmy was bound to get ahead. He always had some
resolves like this or something."
He was reluctant to close the book,
reading each item aloud and then looking eagerly at me.
I think he rather expected me to copy down the list for
my own use.
During the climax of his novel, The
House of the Seven Gables (1851) Nathaniel Hawthorne contrasts
a character’s written plan for a day with what actually
In a prologue to the story, Hawthorne
describes how Colonel Pyncheon, a Puritan leader in colonial
Salem, Massachusetts, had erected the House of the Seven Gables.
The Colonel acquired the land by having the original owner,
Matthew Maule, tried and hanged for witchcraft. The wizard
aims these last words at the Colonel: "God will give him blood
The Colonel builds his mansion on Maule’s
property and schedules a grand reception. When the Colonel
fails to appear, his guests find him seated in his chair with
blood on his beard—dead at the moment of his greatest triumph.
Nearly 200 years later, one of the
colonel’s descendants, Judge Jeffrey Pyncheon, sits
in the very same chair in the very same house. He is like
the original patriarch in appearance, temperament, and ambition.
The judge is waiting to speak to his
cousin Clifford. The cousin has just emerged from prison,
having served 30 years for a murder he did not commit. The
judge, who played a role in Clifford’s confinement,
hopes to blackmail him for information on a vast tract of
land. Should Clifford fail to provide the information, the
judge will have him declared a lunatic and put him away for
a second time.
The judge allots only 30 minute for
his business with Clifford. Using a very simple time management
tool, a list on the back of one of his business cards, the
judge has planned many activities for the day.
Yet, two hours pass and the judge continues
to wait in the ancestral chair. In his narrative, Hawthorne
chides the normally punctual judge for his sudden "sluggishness":
Half an hour? Why, judge, it is
already two hours, by your own undeviating chronometer!
Glance down your eye at it, and see. Ah; he will not give
himself the trouble to bend his head, or elevate his hand,
so as to bring the faithful timekeeper within his range
of vision. Time, all at once, appears to have become a matter
of no moment with the Judge! And has he forgotten all the
other items of his memoranda?The judge is dead, struck down by same
mysterious ailment that has killed several of his ancestors.
Clifford, finding the body, has fled the house, leaving the
judge as its only occupant.
As the time of day progresses, the
narrative details each action that the judge had planned.
Each item is sardonically described as if he was still capable
of accomplishing it. The list includes buying a new horse,
visiting his doctor, replacing a broken gravestone for his
late wife ("better, at least, than if she had never needed
any!"), and attending a banquet at which he is to be hand-picked
as the next governor.
With macabre irony, the author exhorts
him again and again to rise up and attend to his schedule.
As the judge continues his silent vigil, the day fades into
night and the night fades into the following day. The morning
reveals a fly buzzing around the judge’s open eyes.
Hawthorne concludes:Canst thou not brush the fly away?
Art thou too sluggish? Thou man, that hadst so many busy
projects yesterday! Art thou too weak that wast so powerful?
Not brush away a fly! Nay, then, we give thee up!
It would be hard to find a clearer example
of how far real events can veer away from a written schedule.
Stories like these also show that it is hard to control events
when someone has his values out of alignment with reality. An
emphasis on values and principles has been the main contribution
of recent time management systems.
CHARLES R. HOBBS: THE PYRAMID PRINCIPLE
Charles R. Hobbs is the
most influential time management trainer of recent decades. Yet little has been written about him on the web.
The following paragraphs will help to address that gap.
Charles R. Hobbs helped popularize value-based time management training, and many subsequent programs build upon ideas that Hobbs first developed.
Hobbs received his doctorate from Teacher’s
college at Columbia University. In 1974, he left his position
as Associate Director of the Teacher Development Program and
spent the next eighteen months developing his Time Power system.
Hobbs sees his curriculum as the logical outgrowth of his
"life career question": "How can a teacher bring about change
in the lives of people through group instruction?"
Hobbs decided that existing time management
training was "mechanical and disconnected." Hobbs writes:
The ideas they taught were not
interrelated into a cohesive system. The humanness of the
people was casually traded for ploys to "get the job done,"
and the jobs that were being done …were too-often
low yielding activities draped in the cloak of screaming
urgency; impulses, not priorities.
He wanted a system that would "help the
student attain measurable increases in his personal productivity
at work while maintaining a balanced personal life perspective."
Hobbs says that Time Power causes "permanent change" in people
because it builds the "continuity of experience" advocated by
John Dewey, the educator and philosopher: Dewey proposed that each experience
builds on what has gone before and modifies the quality
of what comes after. It came to me that the planning of
goals in light of one’s total experience calls for
the same kind of continuity. The key, Hobbs decided, was to tie together
each individual’s personal values, goals, and daily planning
into one continuous system.
Hobbs says you should determine what
ideas make up your personal value system and write each of
them as an action statement. These are very general statements
that represent the "highest priorities in life." Hobbs calls
these statements "unifying principles." They can form the
basis for setting goals and making other decisions.
Examples include: Commit to a more
excellent way. Earn the good will of others. Be honest. Be
a leader. Believe in people. Grow intellectually. Have personal
integrity. Hobbs states:
There is a reality that few people
recognize. An individual can not effectively manage time
without personal congruity, and congruity is not possible
without clearly defined values that are brought under control
in personal thought and performance. Hobbs defines congruity as "experiencing
balance, harmony, and appropriateness with events in your life."
Incongruity is "tinkering with tantalizing trivialities." You
can achieve "self-unification" when there is congruity between
your value system and actual performance. According to Hobbs: As you form a congruity between
what you believe to be right and how you perform, you will
experience the highest form of self-actualization.Hobbs says he is not trying to impose
any particular value system. The purpose of his program is to
reach all persons no matter where they are "coming from."
Religious persons would go to the inspirational
literature of their religions to help them form their unifying
principles. Hobbs says many secular sources, such as Shakespeare
and other classic literature, may also include the "highest
truths." Hobbs found his own best treatment of "humility"
in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales . He also recommends
biographies for generating ideas on unifying principles. He
advises against relying on the field of psychology, since
much of it is "theory" that has not yet "stood the test of
All other goals build on these "unifying
principles." From that point, planning goes to goals that
are increasingly specific. Long-range goals build upon the
unifying principles. Intermediate goals build upon the long-range
goals. Daily goals include actions that help achieve the intermediate
Hobbs calls this the "productivity
pyramid." It is illustrated as a pyramid with the unifying
principles at the base and daily actions at the top.
Hobbs recommends a 15-minute planning
session every day to maintain continuity in the planning process.
The daily plan, goals, and unifying
principles all go into a Day-Timer organizer. The format he
recommends has a two-page spread for each day of the month.
Available from Day-Timers, Inc., in Allentown, Pennsylvania,
they come in sizes ranging from pocket-size to full letter-size.
Regardless of the size selected, Hobbs
says you must carry the Day-Timer everywhere you go. The idea
is to keep all of planning materials constantly available
and to have a place to write incoming data. You must limit
yourself to only one Day-Timer: If you use more than one,
you’ll be "flitting back and forth" between them trying
to find information.
The use of the Day-Timer builds upon
Hobbs’ "theory of accessibility," developed in his doctoral
dissertation at Columbia University. The theory states: "If
a goal is meaningfully, directly, and continually visible,
your chances of achieving it increase." By keeping their values,
goals, and planning in the Day-Timer, people will be more
likely to perform in the ways they had intended.
The system includes a series of questions
to help select and prioritize the unifying principles, personal
life goals, goals with an organization, and items on a daily
Time Power also includes "productivity
goals." These are ongoing goals that emphasize time management
itself. Their purpose is to help keep people focused on the
need for time management and to help them succeed with the
Here are some examples of productivity
- Do the most vital task now.
- Limit TV programs to the vital few—if
- Be sensitive to the vital priorities
- Clean my desk every afternoon before
- Never seek a solution to a problem
until it is clearly defined.
- When talking with someone, take
100% of the responsibility for seeing that communication
- Never say in 100 words what can
be better said in ten.
Hobbs suggests that you place a list
of productivity goals in the Day-Timer and re-write two or
three of them on each daily action list.
INTIMIDATE THY NEIGHBOR
Day-Timers now down-plays Time
Power in favor of its new 4-D program. They no longer offer
Hobbs’ tapes to the public.
However, the Franklin Quest Company
in Salt Lake City offers a remarkably similar program. The
company CEO Hyrum Smith has written two books and recorded
several audio cassettes that capture his TimeQuest seminar.
Like Time Power, he bases his program on a "productivity pyramid."
The seminar parallels many of Hobbs’ key points and
uses many of the same anecdotes and illustrations.
Franklin Quest offers the Day
Planner, an organizer comparable to the Day-Timer Two-Page-Per-Day
Less academic than Hobbs, Smith
can often turn a phrase in a way likely to be remembered.
Here are a few of Smith’s observations:
On "not having enough time ":
I f you called me on the
phone today and said, "Hyrum, I’d like you to have
dinner with me tonight," and I answered, "Sorry, I would
really like to have dinner with you tonight but I just don’t
have the time," I would be lying. What I am really saying
is: "I value some other event more than having dinner with
you." Why don’t I just come out and say that? Well,
it’s culturally okay to say "I don’t have the
time." It’s not culturally okay to say, "I
value another event more than having dinner with you—so
I’m not going!"
On having an unclear job definition:
It’s like speeding
down the highway and running into a fog bank.
On the need for daily planning:
If there is anything that I could get you to do…it would be to spend ten
to fifteen minutes each morning planning your day. If I
could get you to do that, you’d not only scare yourself,
you’d intimidate everybody on your block.
On the feeling created by a crossing
a task off a list:
Suppose you accomplish a
task that was not on your "to do" list. What do you do?
You add it on and cross it off. It feels terrific doesn't
it?…Do you know why it feels terrific?…They’ve
discovered that when you accomplish a task and cross it
off, your brain produces a chemical called endorphin that
causes you to experience a euphoric high similar to the
effect of taking morphine.
Hyrum Smith recalls a conversation
that illustrates his retrieval system with the Franklin Day
Planner: Early one morning, Smith is planning his day. A note
on his daily task list tells him that he needs to call someone
named "Bill." He doesn't remember the man at all.
The note refers him to a page
four months earlier. That page tells him that the man is a
prospect for his seminar and gives some details about their
discussion. Smith is now ready to speak intelligently with
someone whom he did not ever remember just a few minutes earlier.
The time is 5:30 A.M., Salt Lake City time. The conversation
goes like this:
Hyrum: Good morning, Bill, this
is Hyrum Smith. What time is it now in New York?
Hyrum: You may recall we had
a conversation on January 14 at 4:30 in the afternoon. We
spent twelve minutes on the phone. Do you remember that conversation?
Like Hobbs, Smith tells people
to carry their organizer everywhere. In his book, The Ten
Natural Laws of Successful Time and Management (1994), he writes:
If you don’t have it
with you, you’ll end up writing things on scraps of
paper and becoming disorganized. And since you will put
everything that relates to your values, goals, and daily
task list in this tool, you need it with you almost always.
I have people ask me all the time, "Hyrum, if this thing’s
so important, what happens if I lose it?" I just tell them,
"Listen, if you lose this thing, you may as well jump from
a tall building, because it’s all over." Of course,
I’m just kidding…In his seminar recording, he answers
even more succinctly: "The answer is: You don’t lose it."
For people who won’t carry
the Franklin Day Planner everywhere, the company offers "satellite"
filler pages. These are pocket-sized sheets that can be added
later to the main organizer book.
The Day Planner comes with divider
sheets. Printed tabs create sections for addresses and telephone
numbers, values and goals, finances, key personal information,
reference materials, and long-term planning. There are also
six numbered tabs for tracking specific people and projects.
Despite the light-hearted tone
of the program, Smith adds just enough philosophy to put all
in a meaningful context. Toward the end of the seminar, he
gives his personal definition of "character." It is "the ability
to carry out a worthy decision after the emotion of making
that decision has passed."
He asks the participants to give
the program a "serious shot" for 21 days. If they will, he
promises "a major reduction in stress." You reduce stress,
he says, as you gain a greater sense of control.
Smith gives the participants
an assignment. Using the Day Planner, they must schedule a
letter that they will write to him 21 days later. At that
time, they will report how they are doing with their organizer
and with their productivity pyramid.
Smith says, "We have a whole
division of people who do nothing but respond to these letters."
He personally sees many of the letters and finds it "wonderful
to see what has happened in people’s lives in that short
21 day period. It is almost scary."
According to Smith, the key to
their success is the time spent on the productivity pyramid:Building this pyramid is
the single toughest thing you have ever done. There will
be a temptation as surely as you sit there not to build
the pyramid…If there is a gap between what you value
and what you’re doing, there will be pain. The only
way to get rid of the pain is to bring in line what you
do with what you value.
Smith concludes with a poem by
an unknown author. At least 100 years old, the words appear
on a sundial at Wellesley College:
The shadow by my finger cast,
Divides the future from the past.
Behind its unreturning line,
The vanished hour, no longer thine.
Before it lies the unknown hour,
In darkness and beyond thine power.
One hour alone is in thine hands,
The now on which the shadow stands.
STEPHEN R. COVEY:
THE PRINCIPLE OF PRINCIPLES
During the aftermath of the Democratic
Party election defeats of 1994, Stephen R. Covey visited President
Bill Clinton at Camp David. On the PBS television program, The McLaughlin Group , host John McLaughlin showed
a video clip of the meeting and asked his panelists to comment.
The participants are print media
writers who represent a variety of political viewpoints. They
tend to disagree often and very loudly.
Yet, on the subject of Covey’s
visit their opinion was unanimous: The fact that Clinton would
turn to a motivational "guru" was a sign of desperation. The
session with Covey had lowered the president’s stock
for the week.
To further the derision, McLaughlin
juxtaposed the Covey shot with one of Anthony Robins walking
on hot coals. While still in his twenties, Robins achieved
fame as the motivational "boy wonder" for his Unlimited
Power book and tapes.
Covey—Robins—it was all the
same thing to the McLaughlin commentators. It was all so much
It is not just cynical reporters
who question the self-improvement movement. As the recent
FAA training scandals have shown, the push to reform people
can turn into indoctrination and even brainwashing.
Sometimes organizations force-feed
ideas that may or may not be popular.
In Covey’s case, Harvard
Professor Ronald A. Heifetz sees a "kind of maladaptive response"
in his popularity. "There’s something real about the
yearning" that his work brings out. "The question is whether
people are doing the right thing to satisfy it."
Fortune magazine summed
up Covey’s critics:
The problem, they say, lies
in the message that is being subsidized by management: that
individual workers are responsible for their own destinies,
and that the way to achieve security and serenity is through
continual self-improvement. For a big corporation that is
mowing down whole suitefuls of middle managers, critics
say, this can be a handy way to get employees to start thinking
that if they are laid off, the fault lies somewhere in themselves.More bluntly, economist Jeremy Rifkin
says: "You’re setting up the psychological conditions
for people to accept just-in-time employment."
Obviously, there are few motivational
speakers who see themselves in such sinister terms. However,
even when viewed in their most favorable light, motivational
materials seem to reach a point of diminishing returns. They
start to repeat the same stories and oft-heard quotations.
They generate a limited range of intellectual challenges.
Yet some motivational wares outlast
all expectations. Dale Carnegie’s book, How To Win
Friends and Influence People (1936), was derided in its
time, and its title is still a running joke among some people.
Nonetheless, it continues to sell forty years after the author’s
death. Carnegie is also a standard for comparing new self-help
So it was no small endorsement
when USA Today called Covey "the hottest self-improvement
consultant to hit U.S. business since Dale Carnegie."
No doubt Stephen Covey is in vogue.
He has made People magazine. Their editors remarked
that Covey’s maxims "sound like Gump with an MBA. But
their bite-size simplicity, as well as their emphasis on principled
behavior, is part of the draw."
And he draws many kinds of people.
In the bookstore, Covey’s books sit near the ones about
"re-engineering" and "reinventing" corporations. Browsers
also find them in the "self-help" section near 101 Lies
Men Tell Women.
The Covey phenomenon began in
1989 with The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
It was quickly followed by Principle-Centered Leadership . Covey’s latest book, First Things First, looks
at the management of time. Each of the books is available
on audio cassette. The Seven Habits has been recorded
in Spanish. There is even a Seven Habits screen saver;
it allows Covey’s maxims to flash on a computer monitor
all day long.
In short, Covey is one of the
most successful authors of all time. To understand Covey in
perspective, it may be helpful to look at all three books.
Briefly, here are Covey’s Seven Habits :
Habit One: Be Proactive . Take the initiative and choose your own response.
Habit Two: Begin with the
End in Mind . Covey states, "If you are the programmer,
write the program. Decide what you’re going to do with
the time, talent, and tools you have to work with…"
Habit Three: Put First Things
First. This is the "endowment of willpower." Covey explains:
At the low end of the continuum
is the ineffective, flaky life of floating and coasting,
avoiding responsibility and taking the easy way out, exercising
little initiative or willpower. And at the top end is a
highly disciplined life that focuses heavily on the highly
important but not necessarily urgent activities of life.
It’s a life of leverage and influence.
Habit 4: Think Win/Win. This
is the "endowment of the abundance mentality…You go from
a scarcity to an abundance mentality through intrinsic self-worth
and a benevolent desire for mutual benefit."
Habit 5: Seek First to
Understand, Then to Be Understood:
Habit 6: Synergize. "The
essence of synergy is to value differences—to respect them,
to build on strengths, to compensate for weaknesses."
Most people do not listen
with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent
to reply. They’re either speaking or preparing to
speak. They’re filtering everything through their
own paradigms, reading their autobiography into other
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw . This habit is to beef up your "PC" or "production capability."
It means "renewing the four dimensions of your nature—physical,
spiritual, mental, and social/emotional." It includes things
like reading and exercise.
In Principle-Centered Leadership, Covey tells how to make principles the foundation for leading
groups and organizations. He says these are absolute laws
that govern people:Our effectiveness is predicated
upon certain inviolate principles—natural laws
in the human dimension that are just as real, just as unchanging,
as laws such as gravity are in the physical dimension. These
principles are woven into the fabric of every civilized
society and constitute the roots of every family and institution
that has endured and prospered.
These principles are not
invented by us or by society; they are the laws of the
universe that pertain to human relationships and human
organizations. They are part of the human condition, consciousness,
and conscience. To the degree people recognize and live
in harmony with such basic principles as fairness, equity,
justice, integrity, honesty, and trust, they move toward
either survival and stability on the one hand or disintegration
and destruction on the other.
Charles Hobbs and Hyrum Smith tell
people to make decisions according to their value systems. Covey,
however, draws a distinction between values and principles.
In Principle-Centered Leadership , Covey tells this
story to make his point: When I was in New York recently,
I witnessed a mugging skillfully executed by a street gang.
I’ve sure that the members of this gang have their
street maps, their common values—the highest value being,
"Don’t fink or squeal on each other, be true and loyal
to each other"—but this value, as it is represented by
the gang, does not represent "true north," the magnetic
principle of respect for people and property. These "true north principles" are
"like compasses." They always point the way in every situation.
They provide vision and direction
for groups of people. With leadership based on principles,
groups discover long-term solutions to their problems. This
happens on four levels: the "organizational, managerial, interpersonal,
The organization weds its mission
and values to its strategy, structures, and systems. The approach
considers the customers, suppliers, competitors, and other
In the past, organizations have
tried leadership based on fairness, kindness, and efficiency.
Covey adds "effectiveness" to the other three elements. Effective
organizations recognize the "spiritual" needs of everyone
People are considered not
just as resources or assets, not just economic, social,
and psychological beings but also spiritual beings; they
want meaning, a sense of doing something that matters. They
want purposes that lift them, ennoble them and help them
achieve their higher selves. Three things have to happen if you
want to turn principles into effectiveness. They are "pathfinding,"
"empowerment," and "team building."
Covey’s third blockbuster, First Things First , appeared in 1994. He is joined by
co-authors A. Roger Merrill and Rebecca R. Merrill. The book
gives an expanded explanation of the third of the seven habits;
it also rests on the shoulders of the principle-centered philosophy.
- Pathfinding means "creating
an exciting vision of how to reach a worthy end." Covey
emphasizes that "a worthy end cannot be reached with an
unworthy means." A worthy means encompasses and reflects
all the stakeholders.
- Empowerment is teaching
people to "become relatively independent and part of interdependent,
self-managing teams." Empowerment is the result of trust
and win-win performance agreements.
- Team building means
involving people in activities that improve the team's productivity
The book’s cover shows
a compass superimposed over a clock. The point is that effectiveness
requires "true north" principles rather than an efficiency
based on the clock. Covey writes:
For many of us, there’s
a gap between the clock and the compass—between the way
we spend our time and what is deeply important to us.
Decisions are easy when it’s
simply a question of "good" or "bad." We know that some
time expenditures are wasteful, mind-numbing, even destructive.
But for most of us the issue is not the difference between
the "good" and the "bad," but between the "good" and the
"best." So often,the enemy of the best is the good.
Covey sees interest in time management
as an attempt to close the gap between the compass and the clock.
He calls this a "popcorn phenomenon" with the "increasing heat
and pressure of the culture creating a rapidly exploding body
of literature and products." He says there have been three "generations"
of time management:
1) The First Generation involves
using simple "reminders." You keep track of things you want
to do with notes and checklists. Beyond that, you just "go
with the flow."
2) The Second Generation brings
in "planning and controlling." Calendars and appointment books
enter the picture.
3) The Third Generation adds
prioritizing and controlling. People set goals based on their
Covey says that these generations
have made people more effective up to a point. Yet none of
them present a complete "paradigm." The result is like trying
to drive somewhere using the wrong map: "Changing our behavior
and attitude won’t help us if we have the wrong
map ." According to Covey, "traditional" time management
theory includes these fallacies:
- "We are in control…"
The fact is, control is an illusion. The method ignores
an essential reality: Most of our time is spent living and
working with other people, who can not be controlled.
- "Efficiency above all…"
The underlying assumption is that "more" and "faster" is
better. But if you’re headed south down the California
coast… and your destination is New York City…you’re
not being very effective.
- "Plug in your VALUES"…Values
are critically important. They drive our choices and actions.
But…just because we value something does not necessarily
mean it will create quality of life. When what we value
is in opposition to the natural laws that govern peace of
mind and quality of life, we set ourselves up for failure.
What is essential, Covey says, is
how much value you get out of you time "rather than how many
minutes or hours" you put into it.
- "The clock tells the truth…"
The clock dictates the rhythm of our lives. But is this
idea of time an adequate framework for all of human experience?
We think not. Just as some things are more important than
others, some moments are more important than others.
- "Competence is king…"
The idea is that if you can develop competencies, you can
create quality of life. But personal effectiveness is a
function of both competence and character. We can not truncate
what we do from who we are.
Covey proposes a "Fourth Generation"
time management: one that will retain the strengths of the earlier
generations while avoiding their weaknesses. The fourth generation
builds upon an "importance paradigm": Knowing what is important,
instead of simply responding to what is urgent, is the first
step to putting first things. People tend to act on anything that
is urgent. Something that is urgent may or may not be important,
but it is the urgency that drives people to action: Urgency is an addition, a
self-destructive behavior that temporarily fills the void
created by unmet needs.Yet urgency itself is not really
the problem. The problem is when it is the "dominant factor
in our lives, it overrides those things that are merely important…The
more urgency we have in our lives, the less importance we have."
- "Management cures all ills…"
Time management is a form of management, as opposed to leadership.
Management works within a paradigm. Leadership creates new
paradigms. Management works within the system. Leadership
works on the system… Before we consider the question,
"Am I doing things right?" we must first ask ourselves "Am
I doing the right things?"
To illustrate the difference
between urgency and importance. Covey provides an "activity
matrix" which is divided into four quadrants.
Quadrant I activities are both
urgent and important. Examples include handling an irate client,
meeting a deadline, and repairing a broken machine. They demand
immediate action; we all have to spend some of our time in
Quadrant II activities are important,
but not urgent. This quadrant can involve long-range planning,
anticipating and preventing problems, "empowering others,"
reading, professional development activities, preparing for
future activities, and investing "in relationships through
sincere effort and deep, honest listening." Neglecting Quadrant
II leads to "stress, burnout, and deeper crises" in Quadrant
I. By investing time in this quadrant you shrink the amount
of time in Quadrant I.
Quadrant III is the "phantom
of Quadrant I." It includes things that are urgent, but not
important. Because of its urgency, it creates the illusion
of importance. Examples include unimportant phone calls and
Quadrant IV activities are neither
urgent nor important. The reading of pulp novels, mindless
TV viewing, and gossiping are examples of Quadrant IV time
wasters. Covey states:
Quadrant IV is not survival;
it’s deterioration. We quickly find there’s
nothing there. The key to effectiveness is to maximize
the time in Quadrant II. In that quadrant we can work on the
what Covey calls "the fulfillment of the four human needs and
capacities." They are "to live, to love, to learn, to leave
Covey suggests that you plan
on a weekly basis, including Quadrant II activities into your
To translate goals into action:
The key is not to prioritize your schedule but to schedule
your priorities. First Things First assumes
that everyone either has a mission statement or would want to
write one: This is a written statement
about what you value most on a lifetime basis—what kind
of person you want to become, what unique contributions
you want to make, the principles upon which you build your
life. Just like a compass, it can help direct your path.
A mission statement can help lead your activities toward
"true north."You write goals that grow out of
your mission. You schedule activities that contribute to your
The program also brings "roles"
into the planning process:
We have important roles at
work, in the family, in the community, and in other areas
of life. If we are unhappy, it is often because we’re
succeeding in one role at the expense another.
A clear set of roles creates
order and balance.
A person can have more than one
role in the same environment. At home, roles can include both
"wife" and "mother" or both "husband" and "father." You can
also cover all the relationships at home with just one role:
At work, one job may include
several roles, such as "administrator, marketer, personnel
officer, and long-term planner."
To help implement the system,
the Covey Leadership Center markets a Seven Habits Organizer.
Also available from Day-Timers, the organizer provides a two-page
spread for planning each week.
Along the left side of the spread
are boxes for the name of each role. There is also space for
writing goals for the week that contribute to each role.
Besides the weekly planning space,
each role receives a tab section within the organizer. The
user receives instructions to record information behind the
role tabs, rather than chronologically. Each role gets its
own goal sheet, activities checklist form, telephone and address
page, and note page.
The organizer also has places
for planning and recording "sharpening the saw" (Habit Seven)
Because of its popularity, First Things First is bringing time management theory
to many people for the first time. A few comments may be in
Although the Covey Leadership
Center has obtained a trademark for "Quadrant II Time Management,"
the idea is not new. Most other well-known time management
trainers are careful to distinguish between the terms "important"
and "urgent." Charles Hobbs included an importance/urgency
matrix with his 1983 audio program "Insight on Time Management."
So it may be questionable whether Covey’s emphasis on
"importance" really constitutes a new "generation" in time
What Covey does do well is to
bring a fresh perspective to some old ideas.
For example, other time management
trainers tell people to set goals for different areas of their
lives. The result is goals for the family and for the different
responsibilities at work. So, "roles" have been covered before
even if the trainer never mentions the word.
Likewise, other programs tell
you to set up sections in an organizer for different responsibilities
and people. So, again, roles have been covered before.
What is unique in First Things
First is its emphasis on the roles themselves. The earlier
programs simply tell you to set goals for each important area
of your life. What Covey is saying is that you should think
deeply about the underlying roles and integrate them into
your week. By looking at goals from that perspective, a person
might set some that might have been overlooked.
In its discussion of principles, First Things First gets into some slippery terrain.
Covey states that "Third Generation" trainers (i.e., his competitors)
tell people to become "a law unto themselves." This is because
they tell people to write down their values according to their
own belief systems. This is unacceptable, he says, unless
you also bring natural law, or "true north" principles, into
However, it is not true that
other trainers tell people that they can get away with anything
they write as a value. They are simply acknowledging that
different people will approach life differently because of
their background and beliefs. The laws of human behavior are
not always as clear as the rising and setting of the sun.
There must surely be a way to
reconcile Covey with the other time management theorists.
When he compares values to principles, all that Covey really
seems to be saying is this: Be sure your values are the ones
that really work. And that is a point worth keeping in mind—whether
you’re an executive making a decision or Judge Pyncheon
planning his day.
BRIAN TRACY:RENAISSANCE MAN OF SUCCESS TRAINING
Brian Tracy is the speaker on countless
Nightingale-Conant audio programs. The Canadian-born seminar
leader seems to cover the entire personal and professional
development field. His topics range from corporate strategic
planning to coping with marital difficulties. Tracy studies
existing materials and tries to bring together "only the best"
of the available ideas.
Tracy talks about time management in
several of his audio and video tapes. Here are some ideas
that you can glean from the various Tracy materials:
1) Goals. The more goals you set the
"more efficient you will become." Set goals consistent with
"your highest aspirations and your innermost values and convictions."
When setting goals, concentrate on
doing the right thing, rather than doing things right: "If
it's not worth doing, it's not worth doing right." Ask yourself:
"What are you trying to do? How are you trying to do it?"
2) Organized plans of action. A plan
answers the question, "How are you trying to do it?":
The more time you spend planning,
the better and more foolproof your plans become. In
re-working your plans for achieving your goals, your
goals become increasingly believable and achievable.
Your confidence in your ability to accomplish them
grows. When you break down even the biggest goal into
its individual parts, and then organize the goal into
a step-by-step series of specific actions, it seems
much more manageable and under your control. The more
you plan, the more you drive the goal into your subconscious
mind where it takes on a motivational power of its
The pay-off from good planning
is enormous. It is estimated that one minute in planning
saves at least five minutes in execution. Put another
way, your investment in planning pays you a 500 per
3) Analysis. Make a list:
You can bring order out of
chaos faster with a list than with any other time
management tool. If, at any time, you feel yourself
overwhelmed with work, stop and take the time necessary
to list every single thing you need to do. The very
act of organizing your responsibilities on a list
will enable you to bring them under control.
4) Set priorities. Determine what is
relevant and irrelevant. Ask: "What is the most valuable use
of my time, right now? What impact will this have on the future?"
Also ask: "What is the limiting step
that determines how quickly I can go from where I am to where
I want to be. What is the bottleneck that determines the speed
at which I get there?"
5) Concentrate: "Concentration means
the ability to stay with a task until it is complete. Concentration
means to work in a straight line from where you are to where
you want to go, without diversion or distraction, without
getting sidetracked into doing things of less importance."
6) Setting deadlines and rewards:
Create a reward system for
the completion of a major task and refuse to give
yourself the reward until the job is 100 per cent
Deadlines act as a forcing
system that causes you to work harder and more effectively
as the deadline approaches.
7) The time log: Tracy suggests that
you set an alarm to go off every fifteen minutes:
Make a note of what you're
doing each time the alarm rings. Ask yourself, "Is
what I am doing now a good use of my time?"
This will bring your full attention
to what you are doing. Tracy says, "All of life is the study
8) Procrastination: It can be either
positive or negative. "You must learn to procrastinate creatively
on the 80 per cent of things that you have to do that account
for only 20 per cent of the value."
9) Delegate: "You should assign, delegate,
or have someone else do any job that can be done at a wage
less than what you earn or desire to earn."
10) Interruptions: Control the telephone
and walk-in visitors. Tracy recommends a line from John Malloy,
author of Dress for Success and How to Run the Competition
into the Ground. Just say, "Back to work!"
11) Key result areas:
Your key result area is the
answer to the question, "Why am I on the payroll."
Each person has one or two key result areas where
they can make an important contribution to the organization.
By concentrating on your key result areas you will
achieve the most significant results in the shortest
period of time.
12) Batching Tasks: "When you do a
group of similar tasks together, the amount of time it takes
you to do each subsequent task declines."
13) Neatness: "Before you start to
work clear your work space of everything except what you need
to complete the highest priority task on hand."
14) Chunks of time: Allow time for
important work. "It is not possible to accomplish meaningful
tasks in less than 60 to 90 minutes." Be willing to come in
early or stay late. To create uninterrupted time, work through
the noon hour while everyone else is at lunch.
15) Transition time: Turn waiting time
into learning time. According to Tracy, you can become "one
of the best-educated persons in North America" simply by listening
to audio cassettes in your car.
16) The telephone: Tracy says that
anyone who picks up a telephone without something to write
on "is a fool."
17) Punctuality: "Get a reputation
for being on time."
18) Work simplification: "Systematize
the work process."
19) Saying no: Say no "early and often."
You should value all your time the same as your time at work:
If your hourly rate is $25,
and someone wants an hour of your time, that person
is, in effect, asking you for $25.
If a person or activity is
not important enough for you to open your wallet and
peal off twenty dollar bills and give them away, then
discipline yourself not to do it.
20) Balance: Use your increased productivity
to "get more time to spend with the people you care about."
The purpose of time management is to help you "get more pleasure
out of life." Spend time on physical fitness. Remember that
"relaxing is often a valuable use of time."
Tracy says the key to successful time
management is to have a "long time horizon." He quotes Edward
Banfield of Harvard University, author of The Unheavenly
City. Banfield sought the cause of social mobility:
Dr. Banfield finally concluded
that there was only one factor that could accurately
predict whether or not you were going to move upward
and onward financially. He called it "time perspective."
He defined time perspective as "the period of time
that you take into consideration when making your
day-to-day decisions and planning your life."
Banfield found that successful people
planned five, ten, and twenty years ahead:
What Dr. Banfield found was
that as you go down the social and economic ladder,
the time perspective at each income level shortens.
When you get to the very bottom of the social pyramid
to the hopeless alcoholic or drug addict you find
a time perspective of one shot or one drink.
The average working person
has a time perspective of about two pay periods. You
begin to move yourself into a higher social class
the day you begin to take the long view in your own
Tracy concludes that "long view" helps
"sharpen the short view." One way to set short-term priorities
is look at the future impact of present decisions. Reading
a book, or listening to an educational tape, or taking a course
are activities with a "high potential future impact on your
career." Watching television, reading the sports page, and
taking a coffee break are activities that—no matter how well
you do them—"will have no possible impact on your life."
At the conclusion of his audio program, How To Master Your Time, Tracy sums up his philosophy
of time management
Time management is really life
management, a discipline and a habit that can be learned.
Time management must be practiced every day, all the
days of your life. It is the one habit—the one skill—that
is essential for a satisfying, fulfilling, high-performance
ALEC MACKENZIE: ESCAPING FROM THE TIME TRAP
The Time Trap is not a Star
Trek episode about being caught in the a time warp or
a space-time continuum. It is the title of Dr. Alec Mackenzie's
down to earth book on time in the workplace. The 1972 edition
of the book (revised in 1990) helped spawn the modern time
Mackenzie ties time management directly
to the issue of American productivity:
The U.S. manufacturing sector is
showing an improvement in productivity at the rate of
3.5 per cent a year. The service sector, however, has
lagged behind at a rate of 0.5 per cent since 1979. And
since service industries represent more than 70 per cent
of our economy, this is an acute problem indeed.
Therefore our productivity must
shift to individuals. If the memo writer, the marketing
vice presidents and the finance officers can learn to
get better results and do it in less time, the impact
on the U.S. economy could be powerful.
Charles Hobbs credits Mackenzie with
doing the definitive study on time wasters. Here are the 20
biggest time wasters that Mackenzie found in the workplace:
· Management by crisis
· Telephone interruptions
· Inadequate planning
· Attempting too much
· Drop-in visitors
· Ineffective delegation
· Personal disorganization
· Lack of self-discipline
· Inability to say no
· Leaving tasks unfinished
· Inadequate staff
· Confused responsibility or authority
· Poor communication
· Inadequate controls and reports
· Incomplete information
In The Time Trap, Mackenzie
devotes an entire chapter to each time waster.
Mackenzie uses himself to illustrate
the problem of procrastination. He tells of the time he kept
putting off his calls to sell Celestial Seasonings Tea on
his program. When his calls didn't go through, Mackenzie became
convinced that the president wasn't interested.
He finally reached him on the seventh
call, and Mackenzie felt the "final put-down" when the man
called him "Charlie." He had picked up the phone expecting
someone else. Mackenzie wearily identified himself. The president
said, "Alec Mackenzie? I've had your name on my desk for months.
I don't need any explanation of your program. How soon can
you come out to conduct a two-day seminar on time management
for all my people?"
Mackenzie asks seminar participants
to do "the one thing they'll not want to do," and that is
to keep a time log. For at least three days, they must write
down every interruption and change of mental attention, "no
matter how trivial."
The purpose is to find out where their
time is really going and which time wasters need to be attacked.
When you grasp the universal fact
that there will never be 25 hours in one day. when you
internalize this basic truth of contemporary existence. you
will have armed yourself with a piece of knowledge you
can use as the groundwork for making radical changes in
the way you manage yourself and achieve your goals.
He says the time log will create the
motivation leads to change:
The time log is necessary because
the painful task of changing our habits requires far more
conviction than we can build from learning about the experience
of others. We need the amazing revelation of the great
portions of our time we are wasting to provide the incentive
and the determination required to manage ourselves.
Many of Mackenzie's participants complain
that the time log itself will take up too much time. He tells
It's something you can't afford
not to take. Since you take the log while you are doing
the activity, it takes much less time than you originally
think. Jot down the entry during the phone call, while
a visitor is on the way in, and at the beginning of an
Mackenzie says a time log brings its
The most astonishing time saver
which results from a time log is the powerful self-correcting
tendency which sets in automatically once you start the
log. The time log is not only an essential diagnostic
tool, it is an extremely effective time management device
One senior AT&T executive liked
it so much that he "never stopped taking it."
Mackenzie also introduces employees
to the "ideal day." They decide the best times for various
activities and try to do them at the same time every day:
The ideal day is a template, in
effect, for your daily plan. It indicates blocks of time
for major categories of activities. Then, for each day's
plan, you schedule the specifics in those major categories.
Mackenzie asks the organization to
set up a "quiet hour," a period when everyone is able, in
theory, to work without interruption for 60 minutes. He says
that one hour of uninterrupted work is worth the weight of
three which are constantly interrupted.
Mackenzie endorses the use of an organizer
to plan and keep track of time. His Time Tactics organizer
includes "Control Sheets" to track projects and a "Contact
Log" to record decisions and follow-up items. Also available:
a "Time Waster Eliminator" form.
When he discusses the problem of the
cluttered desk, probably the most prosaic of all time management
topics, Mackenzie recalls the story of an executive in Heidelberg,
Germany. The man turned to him and said:
Herr Doctor, do you know why we
stack our desks? It's all those things we don't want to
forget. We put them on top where we'll see them. The trouble
is it works too well. Every time our gaze wanders, we
remember them, and we forget what we we're working on.
Mackenzie's prescription is to "keep
your desk clean for the rest of your life" and never have
anything on it but what you are working on at the moment.
Along with the minutia of time management
training, Mackenzie teaches a system to set and manage goals.
Mackenzie sees goals as the way to cope with turbulence in
the U.S. economy:
People in contemporary society
are likely to make at least seven significant career changes
during their adult lives—and not all of their own choosing.
This is a subject which should be dealt with universally
in secondary schools and colleges so that it is less overwhelming
when it occurs. The person who has thought through the
concepts of success, failure, and change to determine
what they really mean will be better equipped to approach
change of this kind as learning experiences and as opportunities
TRENDS IN TIME
A Focus on Teams
One recent trend in time management training is an emphasis
on groups, teams, and teamwork. In 1990, Alec Mackenzie published Teamwork Through Time Management.
As an extension of its TimeQuest seminar,
Franklin Quest offers a program on "project and workload management."
Projects tend to be team-oriented, and Planning for Results includes instruction in "project teamwork." Stephen Covey devotes a full section
of First Things First to "The Synergy of Interdependence."
By that he means achieving more as a group than you could
have done alone.
A key element in First Things First is its emphasis on "roles." Roles tend to involve other people.
In theory, a role could be something done entirely alone:
someone might write "Amateur Photographer of Wilderness Rocks"
on his list of roles. For the most part, however, the roles
mean relationships with other people: "Parent," "Employee,"
or "Work Team Member."
Day-Timers' new Four-Dimensional
Time Management also takes a collective approach. The
workbook lists these training goals:
The purpose of this training program
is to teach you how to utilize time to achieve goals.
By the end of this audio program, you will learn to use
your Day-Timer System to: Focus on what's really important
to you and your team. Plan and prioritize individual
and team goals. Act to turn goals into reality. personally
Team-up to maximize success through
the power of synergy.
The program even goes into the Tuckman
model of team development: "forming, storming, norming, and
AN EMPHASIS ON WEEKLY PLANNING
At a time when Tom Peters talks about nanosecond events, there
is at least one time perspective that seems to be getting
longer. Traditionally, time management has tended to go directly
from goals to daily planning. Now, there seems to be more
emphasis on planning by the week.
Kerry Gleeson of PEP (the Personal
Efficiency Program, Boca Raton, Florida) suggests these reasons
for weekly planning:
Events change rapidly and it is
not feasible for most people to plan a month in advance
in detail. On the other hand, if one only plans a day
in advance, there is insufficient lead time to get critical
By identifying and prioritizing
the actions to be done in the next week, you simplify
daily planning. If it's important, it will be on your weekly
The wide exposure of the Stephen Covey First Things First program has helped generate interest
in weekly planning. Covey states:
While the objective of most daily
planning approaches is to help us put first things first,
the reality is that daily planning keeps us focused on
doing the urgent things first. The perspective is insufficient
to accomplish the result.
Of course, we can't just be focused
on the big picture either. If we don't translate that
vision into action, we lose touch with reality, become
idealistic dreamers, and lose credibility with ourselves
and with others.
Covey compares this to the lenses for
a camera. A telephoto lens makes objects appear closer than
they really are. A wide angle lens makes them seem further
away. Both kinds of lenses distort the appearance of objects.
Only a "normal" lens, one of a particular focal length, can
make objects appear as the eye sees them. Similarly, weekly
planning helps us see events in their proper perspective:
The week represents a complete
patch in the fabric of life. It has the workdays, evenings,
the weekend. It's close enough to be highly relevant,
but distant enough to provide context and perspective.
Covey suggests three other reasons
for weekly planning:
1) Balanced renewal. "The perspective
of the week prompts us to plan for renewal—a time for recreation
and reflection." During a weekly day of renewal, you can plan
for the week ahead:
Quadrant II weekly planning itself
is a renewing activity. Through it, we renew our awareness
of our needs and capacities and true north principles.
2) Whole-parts-whole. You look at the
whole picture; then you look at its parts:
We bring them together again into
the whole, marrying the strengths of both perspectives
through the normal lens of weekly organizing. As we bring
them together again, we see the interrelatedness of the
3) Content in context:
Weekly organizing puts content—the activities of our lives—into the context of what's
important. It creates a powerful framework that represents
our best thinking around what first things first are and
how we can put them first during the next seven days of
THE QUEST FOR PERFECT ORGANIZER. PART TWO: THINK DIGITAL
Digital technology has brought a new twist to time management
tools. The ultimate quest might be the ability to access any
information, anywhere and anytime.
For now, however, the Franklin Quest
Company offers a computerized version of its TimeQuest system.
The Ascend program boasts the following features:
- An appointment schedule (with alarms)
in daily, weekly, and monthly views.
- An E-mail module The ability to print on a variety
of page sizes
- A "values and goals wizard"
- The ability to connect to work groups
and coordinate schedules
In addition, Franklin Quest offers
a separate ValuesQuest program. For those who need help, it
provides "36 sample values, accompanying clarifying statements,
and long range goals."
Much of the appeal of an organizer
program is that it also works as a contact manager. Today,
many people have a lot of other people to keep up with: sales
prospects, a professional network, or contacts for a job search.
People need to record the dates of their conversations and
what they discuss with each person.
With a paper-based system, you write
notes on the daily calendar pages. Over time, the notes on
a particular subject can become scattered among widely separated
pages. It can be difficult to look at all the information
at one time. With an organizer program you can quickly pull
all the information together in one place.
Harvey Mackay, author of Swim with
the Sharks without Getting Eaten Alive, is marketing a
program called Sharkware. In his books, Mackay has repeatedly
promoted the idea of keeping a big Rolodex file. This, he
says, is the key to building a "network of power relationships."
The Sharkware software combines the functions of a Rolodex
and a time management system. Although Sharkware is a time
management tool, the main selling point is its use as a contact
IDG Books has also gotten into the
contact management ACT! The company became a publishing phenomenon
with its For Dummies series of computer books. It is
now extending the For Dummies idea into subjects that
are not purely digital. They include Sex for Dummies and Time Management for Dummies. (Only the latter book
will be quoted here.)
In Time Management for Dummies,
author Jeffrey Mayer touts ACT!, a program created by Symatec
Corporation in Cupertino, California. Mayer states:
In would like to mention I don't
work for Symatec, and I don't own stock in the company.
I'm just an everyday user who thinks ACT! is a very good
productivity improving tool. Well, to be honest, I'll
be writing ACT! For Dummies. So I'm more than just
an everyday user.
Mayer points out another advantage
that a computerized organizer has over a paper-based one:
It takes a lot of work to keep
a list of things to do up to date. We meticulously write
down the names of various tasks, projects, or other items
of business that need to be done on a specific day's page
in our daily planning book. But if that item isn't done
on the day it was entered, it must be moved to a future
day. And if it's not moved, we run the risk of forgetting
A computer-based organizer will automatically
move an unfinished item to the next day. Similarly, all that
it takes is a few clicks of a mouse to change an appointment
to another date.
There are some drawbacks to having
your time management inside a computer. Most time management
trainers say that you should take your organizer everywhere
you. That won't happen if it's in a desktop—or even a lap-top—computer.
To help get around this problem, Day-Timers
encourages its software users to print out all the daily pages.
The user can then put them into a regular Day-Timer binder
and carry them around.
This, however, seems to break another
time management "rule": Only record data into one time
management tool. Inevitably, people will type into the
computer some of the time and write on their printed pages
the rest of the time. It would take an ongoing effort to keep
the two versions aligned with one another. For example, someone
might set an appointment while carrying the printed book and
forget to enter it into the computer.
The emerging palm-top computers may
offer hope in resolving the paper versus PC dilemma. In the
fall of 1995, radio stations around the country aired this
Woman: I knew it the moment I held
Announcer: People grow rather passionate
about the new Psion Series 3A palm-top computer.
Woman: Oh, the magic of your touch!
Announcer: For good reason. The Series
3A's small size belies its strengths.
Woman: You anticipate my innermost
thoughts and needs.
Announcer: The 3A can hold your appointment
calendar for the year or twelve months worth of sales data.
It's like having an office in your pocket.
Woman: I couldn't possibly put a price
on what you mean to me!
Announcer: The Psion Series 3A palm
top computer starts at just $400 which makes it easy to fall
in love with a Psion today.
The palm-top computer seems to address
the need for a tool that is portable. Now, someone needs to
make one that won't break if you drop it and that few people
would want to steal. The paper organizers still have those
TIME MANAGEMENT RECONSIDERED
"Don't attempt to change
the way you work to fit a pre-packaged time management system.
I'm quite sure that you've had the experience of getting
so frustrated by being disorganized that you went out and
bought an expensive time management system. You probably
spent hours learning how to use it and days setting it up.
Then, you found out it was more trouble than it was worth.
It simply didn't complement the way you work or the type
of work you do."
Roger Dawson, The Thirteen Secrets
of Power Performance (1994)
Another trend in time management might
be a rebellion against the time management programs themselves.
Charles J. Givens, author of Wealth Without Risk, says:
In the Twentieth Century we have
become more and more sophisticated. We have become so
sophisticated that some people manage their time with
a thirty-pound time management book. I see them everywhere.
I mean they are this wide and this thick. It takes so
much time to use the time management book—who has time
to manage their time?
Dr. Robert Cooper of Advanced Excellence
Systems, an executive development firm in Minneapolis, says:
Here's a piece of advice that I've
learned the hard way: Don't let time management itself
become a waste of time. Elaborate list-making, minute-by-minute
scheduling and neurotic clock-watching use up more time
than they save and result in a rigid set of expectations
that can rarely be met in the modern work environment.
And, because of that, they lead to frustration and anger.
Time effectiveness is the goal not time warfare.
Even some time management trainers
say that elaborate procedures will not help harness time.
Psychologist Dru Scott conducts a program based on "sound
psychological principles." She cites one survey that reported
60% of the people who try the "conventional approach" say
it does not work for them.
The problem, she says, is that the
systems do not take individual personality styles into account.
For example, many managers believe that a disorderly desk
is a sign of an unproductive worker. Yet, there are many successful
people with messy desks. Scott states:
There should be signs that read
"a messy desk is a sign of a messy desk." The real secret
is not what the desk looks like; the secret is making
sure the things that really count get done.
Jack Gordon, editor of Training magazine writes:
The truth is if you are already
kind of logical, linear, and organized, a time management
course will make you more logical, linear, and organized.
If you're not—if you don't want to organize your life
into A, B, and C priorities—then you won't.
"In spite of the hundreds of millions
of dollars spent on it, time management training isn't working."
Surprisingly, these are the words of Alec Mackenzie, who told Fortune magazine: "Managing time is a lot more difficult
than what I imagined when I wrote The Time Trap." The
problem, he says, is that the techniques go against human
nature, like exercise or sound money management.
The Fortune article concludes:
The courses offer wisdom, but you
probably can't corral time between cow skin covers. Consider
this: When Mackenzie spoke with us, he asked if we had
tried his Time Tactics organizer. "You really should,"
he urged. He promised to mail it the following day. But
despite Mackenzie's theories, his best-seller, and his
system, human nature intervened. He forgot to send it.
THE OLIVER TWIST
Twenty-five years ago, in Future
Shock, Alvin Toffler expressed some concerns about the
technological marvels predicted for end of the century. One
of them was something called OLIVER (On-Line Interactive Vicarious
Expediter and Responder) A type of personal computer, Toffler
said it would "bear directly on the issue of man's adaptability."
It would be the ultimate time management
tool. OLIVER would free up his time by making more and more
of his decisions for him. At its simplest level, OLIVER would
provide information about his friend's preferences, data about
traffic routes, the weather, and stock prices. It could also
"remind him of his wife's birthday" and order the flowers
automatically. It could pay the bills on time. It could obtain
information from computer libraries around the world and "thus
become a kind of universal question-answerer for him."
All of these things have become realities
at the edge of the Twenty-First Century. However, much more
was predicted for OLIVER:
It is theoretically possible to
construct an OLIVER that would analyze the content of
its owners' words, scrutinize his choices, deduce his
value system, update its own program to reflect changes
in his values, and ultimately handle larger and larger
decisions for him.
OLIVER would go to business meetings
in place of its owner and would make the same decisions he
would have made. OLIVER, of course, would not meet with people
but with other OLIVERs. Furthermore:
OLIVER would know whether its owner
would vote for candidate X, whether he would contribute
to charity Y, whether he would accept a dinner invitation
from Z. In the words of one. computer-trained psychologist:
"If you are an impolite boor, OLIVER will know and act
accordingly. If you are a marital cheater, OLIVER will
know and help."
OLIVER becomes your digital "alter
ego." The trek toward the perfect organizer has finally arrived.
And yet Emerson's Law of Compensation
remains in force. Just as you acquire one technology to save
some time, another technology appears to take a piece away.
A clap of thunder sets off a nearby
car alarm. It is not the car being stolen but the time of
the person who has to hear the alarm. As long as the alarm
wails, you are not as productive as you would have been without
Technology brings a more efficient
process to a factory. Hundreds of people lose their jobs.
They spend thousands of hours looking for new ones. This is
time that they are not adding anything to the economy. You acquire a computer. You can do
more with it than you could with a typewriter, a notebook,
and library card. However, a few months later, a new operating
system comes along: you have to upgrade your system, or you
will fall behind the technology. You give one slice of your
time to learning the new system; you give another slice to
making the money to pay for it. This is all time that you are not doing anything else.>So, self-management is only part of
the time management equation. Technology plays its role in
the daily drama. So do circumstances and the season. Nonetheless,
it is in the nature of people to try to bring it all under
In Future Shock, Alvin Toffler
came to this conclusion about the effort to cope with change:
No matter how individuals try to
pace their lives, no matter what psychic crutches we offer
them, no matter how we alter education, the society as
a whole will still be caught on a runaway treadmill until
we capture control of the accelerative thrust itself.
Most of us would rather just own our
time than manage it.
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Vasthead is the professional web site of
Grady McAllister of Houston, Texas.