Solutions at a Glance All Up

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Solutions at a Glance provides a map of common challenges and a summary of solutions to specific problems.  You can use Solutions at a Glance to get the big picture and bird’s-eye view to help you improve your personal productivity, time management, and work-life balance.

Action

  • How to get started on something
  • How to take action more often
  • How to avoid analysis paralysis
  • How to improve your ability to take action

Action Solutions at a Glance

The keys to action are chunking things down, making time for things, focusing on outcomes over activities, and testing your results. Action is at the heart of results. For many people, a lack of action is what holds them back from great results. They have great ideas that they’ll never test. They have results they want, but they’ll never take action to get them. Action is actually a competitive advantage. Your ability to take action, produce results, and change your approach based on feedback is a powerful loop for achieving whatever you want in your life. Here are some solutions at a glance for action:

  • How to get started on something
  • Plan, then execute. Make a list of actions, and then execute your actions. Scrimmage your results. By taking action and testing your results as quickly as possible, you’ll find out what you know, don’t know and need to know next. If it seems like risk is holding you back, chunk it down to limit or constrain your risk. Small tests plus feedback go a long way. If you’re in unfamiliar territory, ask somebody who has paved the path.
  • How to take action more often
  • Chunk things down. Start with something simple. Focus on hitting windows of opportunity. Focus on good enough for now versus perfection. If you’re finding that you never get enough time to take action, you might be over-planning, over-engineering, or making things too big.
  • How to avoid analysis paralysis
  • Set time limits. Flip from spending 80 percent of your time on the problem and 20 percent on the solution to spending 80 percent of your time on the solution and 20 percent on the problem. Another simple way is to find three small things you can do.
  • How to improve your ability to take action
  • One way is to get clarity on your results. If you know what you want to accomplish, it’s easier to find the motivation. Another way is to start thinking in terms of action items. When you’re at a meeting, ask for the next steps. When you’re in training, look for three things you can start doing. Another way is to use Timeboxes. Test how much you can get done within a short time frame. Another thing that helps is simply counting your actions. Focus on rewarding yourself for taking action, in addition to rewarding your results. If you have a bias for action, you can tune your results.

Efficiency and Effectiveness

  • How to boost your productivity levels
  • How to improve efficiency
  • How to improve effectiveness

Efficiency Solutions at a Glance

The keys to improving efficiency and effectiveness are spending the right time, with the right energy, working on the right things, in the right way. Efficiency is about the “means,” while effectiveness is about the “end” result. Efficiency is a metric for speed and cost, while effectiveness is metric for quality and goodness. Asking, “Is it effective?” is really asking if you are achieving the goal. On the other hand, asking, “Is it efficient?” is asking if you are doing it at the least cost in terms of time, money, and energy. Here are some solutions at a glance for efficiency and effectiveness:

  • How to boost your productivity levels
  • Think in terms of daily, weekly, and monthly results as a rhythm of results. The key factors for influencing your productivity include focus, energy, time, technique, strengths, motivation, and teamwork. Focus on outcomes over activities. By focusing on results, you can find more efficient ways to produce those results. Another way is to reduce open work. If you have to task switch across a lot of work, you’ll spend more time figuring out where you left off and more time in administration or planning, and less time executing. Another way is to improve your focus. Improve your focus by working on fewer things that are higher priority. Improve your energy to improve your results. You can improve your energy by finding your motivation, as well as spending more time on your strengths, instead of things that make you week. Carve out time for results. Increase your power hours and your creative hours and schedule them to match up with your natural rhythms and cycles. Pair up and team up with people that improve your performance.
  • How to improve efficiency
  • There are several ways to improve your efficiency: give yourself less time, do things during your power hours, change your pace, and find the best techniques. One of the best first steps is by giving yourself less time—it forces you to find a better way. You can then test different techniques with the same amount of time, to see which produces the best results. For example, if you give yourself less time to spend in email, you’ll quickly find ways to improve your efficiency. One of the simplest ways to find other techniques is to ask people you know.
  • How to improve effectiveness
  • There are several ways to improve your effectiveness: know what good looks like, know the tests for success, improve your feedback loops, and change your approach. First get clarity on the results you want. Ask yourself, “What do I want to accomplish?” To find the tests for success, ask yourself, “If I got the result I wanted, how would I know?” A big part of improving your effectiveness is taking action, testing your results, and changing your approach if you’re not getting what you want. Your feedback informs you how to change. Sometimes the best thing you can do is shorten your feedback loop so you have a tighter connection between your actions, your results, and your feedback. Another way to improve your effectiveness is to model from what works. Find three reference models or examples that you can learn from. This can include using mentors to help improve your effectiveness.

Energy Management

  • How to set boundaries
  • How to deal with resistance
  • How to find your passion
  • How to improve your energy
  • How to maintain your energy for the long haul
  • How to use your energy effectively
  • How to find your strengths
  • How to play to your strengths

Energy Management Solutions at a Glance

The keys to energy management are managing your physical, mental, and emotional energy. On the physical side, the three big keys are eating, sleeping, and working out. On the mental side, it’s about avoiding task overload and doing activities that are challenging enough to keep you engaged, but not so tough that they overwhelm you. On the energy side, this is about finding your motivation, following your passions, and playing to your strengths. It’s about spending more time with people and things that catalyze you and less time with things that drain you. Here are some solutions at a glance for energy management:

  • How to set boundaries
  • Setting boundaries is one of the most effective ways to keep your energy strong. You can set boundaries using time, such as setting a minimum or a maximum amount of time you will spend on something. You can also set boundaries based on emotional energy, which you can do by limiting the time you spend on something. You can also set boundaries by using quantity. You can set a minimum or maximum quantity and use that as your gauge. If you’re finding yourself drained, change your limits.
  • How to deal with resistance
  • Reduce friction. Hack away at the little friction that slows you down or gets in the way of your recurring activities. Create glide paths for your common activities. Have a compelling “Why” to keep you going when times get tough or you need to find your motivation. Think about resistance as making you stronger. If resistance is counter-productive, then find ways to eliminate it or go around. Find a way to ride the wave versus swim upstream.
  • How to find your passion
  • Pay attention to where you naturally feel drawn to or where you want to spend your free time. Ask yourself, “Would I do it for free?” Be brutally honest: do you really enjoy something, or do you enjoy it because you think you’re supposed to or because other people enjoy it? Pay attention to whether your current skill or ability limits your passion.
  • How to improve your energy
  • Spend more time in your strengths. Spend less time in things that make you weak. Know your limits. For example, eat before you get hungry. Take breaks before you hit your mental fatigue. Add activities that catalyze you to your weekly schedule. For example, you can meet with a friend who tends to inspires you.
  • How to maintain your energy for the long haul
  • Find your compelling purpose that you can use to inspire action. Learn your limits for mental, emotional, or physical fatigue. Find rituals that renew you, such as favorite ways to take breaks or optimal bed times. Spend more times in strengths and less time in weaknesses. Spend more time with people that lift you up, than people who bring you down.
  • How to use your energy effectively
  • As a general pattern, consolidate things that make you weak and do them first, when you’re at your strongest (“worst things first”).
  • How to find your strengths
  • As you spend your time, pay attention to what makes you feel strong and which activities you feel naturally drawn to.
  • How to play to your strengths
  • Rather than focus on improving your weaknesses, focus on improving your strengths. Find ways to spend more time in activities that play to your strengths. At work, find ways to use your strengths to deliver value. On your team, find ways to use your strengths to contribute and fill key gaps. While you should play to your strengths, be sure to limit liabilities or weaknesses that get in the way of your best results.

Expectations

  • How to manage expectations
  • How to set expectations
  • How to reset expectations

Expectations Solutions at a Glance

The keys to managing expectations are setting realistic expectations and resetting expectations as needed. Crossed-expectations is a common pattern for frustration. In fact, just improving your ability to manage expectations can improve your own satisfaction as well as the satisfaction others have when working with you. The following are solutions at a glance for managing expectations:

  • How to manage expectations
  • Your goal in managing expectations is to answer the question, “What to expect?” Additionally, you want to reset this as you learn more and gain clarity. It’s a game of progressive rendering. The closer things get, the more clarity your get. The more you reduce surprises, the more you can avoid crossed-expectations and frustrating scenarios, for yourself and others.
  • How to set expectations
  • The general rule of thumb is to under-promise, and over-deliver. This helps you avoid dropping the ball when there are dependencies on you. Things go wrong, so it’s good to include a buffer.
  • How to reset expectations
  • The sooner you reset expectations the better. Resetting expectations means explicitly identifying what to expect based on your latest information. This means being honest with yourself and others about what to actually expect. The goal is to reduce surprises for all parties.

Focus

  • How to improve your focus
  • How to change your focus
  • How to find your flow

Focus Solutions at a Glance

The keys to focus are setting your eyes on the prize, focusing on the vital few things that make a difference, and training your focus. Find your personal patterns for focus, such as how long you can do sustained thinking or how you can reset your focus when it drifts. The following are solutions at a glance for focus:

  • How to improve your focus
  • Work in shorter bursts. Change your pace. Work on things that you find more engaging. Use your outcomes as guide posts to stay focused.
  • How to change your focus
  • The key to changing your focus is changing the question that you ask.
  • How to find your flow
  • Find activities that challenge you and you enjoy. Avoid activities that are so simple you get bored, or activities that are so difficult you get overwhelmed. Look for activities that stretch your skills and that let you feel fully engaged.

Goals and Objectives

  • How to find your purpose
  • How to set goals
  • How to set SMART goals

Goals and Objectives Solutions at a Glance

The keys to effective goals are clarifying meaningful results. Goals are the results you want, and objectives are the checkpoints along the way. Goals help you set the direction, and the pursuit of your goals helps you become more in the process; meanwhile, objectives help you maintain a sense of progress. You already have goals, but the key is to put them out there where you can see whether they serve you. It’s getting mindful about what you want to accomplish. At a simple level, you already have goals for things like eating and sleeping for the day. As you move up the stack, your goals are outcomes you want for other areas of your life, such as your career or relationships. In some cases, time is important: goals have deadlines because of windows of opportunity you want to hit. In other cases, it’s not time that’s important, but progress. In which case, you can use your goals like flight plans, you’re your objectives are the flight instruments to help you move towards the direction you want and adjust as necessary. The following are solutions at a glance for goals and objectives:

  • How to find your purpose
  • Ask yourself, “What’s my purpose in life?” Keep asking until something sticks. Try to get it down to a one-liner that’s easy to say. It should resonate and feel compelling. If you don’t feel an emotional connection to your purpose, then you haven’t found it yet.
  • How to set goals
  • Get to the heart of your goals by asking, “What do I want to accomplish?” Test your goals by considering how your world would be different if you accomplished your goal? If it’s not compelling for you, then find a more compelling goal. Sometimes goals are about improving pleasure, and other times, they are about reducing pain. Optimize your goals around what motivates and inspires you most.
  • How to set SMART goals
  • SMART is an acronym: specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and timely. By addressing these questions, you can improve the clarity of your goals.

Learning

  • How to fail forward
  • How to avoid learned helplessness
  • How to learn and respond
  • How to use monthly improvement sprints

Learning Solutions at a Glance

The keys to learning are turning feedback into lessons, carrying the good forward, and staying curious. The worst pitfall for learning is falling into learned helplessness, where you start to shutdown or think that no matter what you try, it won’t work. The following are solutions at a glance for improving learning:

  • How to fail forward
  • Turn failures into lessons. Don’t just ask, “Why did I fail?” It’s important to also ask, “What did I learn?” Carry the good forward.
  • How to avoid learned helplessness
  • Keep testing your results. At the very least, if you think you can’t accomplish something, test that assumption and prove whether you really can or can’t—you might be surprised.
  • How to learn and respond
  • Shorten your learning loops so that you can adjust your approach. Stay flexible in your approach. Use feedback as your guide to improve your results. When something is not working, find the way forward by paying more attention to what you’re learning from the experience.
  • How to use monthly improvement sprints
  • A simple way to keep learning is to pick a theme and focus on it for a month. Using this approach, you can cycle through and experiment with other domains or interests.

Motivation

  • How to motivate yourself
  • How to stay positive
  • How to switch gears
  • How to beat perfectionism
  • How to beat procrastination
  • How to find effective metaphors

Motivation Solutions at a Glance

The keys to motivation are finding a compelling why or purpose, changing how you’re doing something, and using metaphors or mindsets that help keep you going. The simplest way to think about motivation is pain and pleasure. We do things to increase pleasure or reduce pain. The following are solutions at a glance for mindsets and motivation:

  • How to motivate yourself
  • If you’re not that motivated, your why just isn’t strong enough—find a compelling why. Another way is to change how you do something; for example, turning it into a game can make it fun and exciting. Team up with someone who complements your skills. You can think in terms of pictures and use visualization to motivate yourself. You can get leverage on yourself by either using pain or using pleasure.
  • How to stay positive
  • Ask, “What’s great about this situation?” Shift to the future and ask solution-focused questions, such as, “How to make the most of this situation?”
  • How to switch gears
  • To shift gears, you can imagine putting on a different hat. For example, you might put on your explorer hat or your results hat. You can also shift gears by asking yourself different questions, such as, “How much can I get done in the next 10 minutes?”
  • How to beat perfectionism
  • Think of perfection as a path, not a destination. Ask yourself, “What’s good enough for now?” Think in terms of versioning your results. Imagine how much better the tenth version will be than the first version. Improve upon it each time through, rather than try to get it all right up front. Worst case, set simple time limits to unblock yourself.
  • How to beat procrastination
  • Treat it like a challenge and focus on getting the ball out of your court. Rather than over-think or over-analyze your action, simply take action and make progress. You can always correct course, but what you want to avoid is inertia. Inertia will slow you down and wear you down. The better you get at doing the things you need to do, the more you build momentum for results.
  • How to find effective metaphors
  • Figure out whether the problem you are working on should be like blasting with dynamite or chipping away at the stone. This will help you pace yourself for results. Turn your projects into epic adventures if that helps you connect with your sense of adventure. Turn your problems into hurdles you can jump, if that helps you make forward progress.

Opportunity

  • How to test the potential of an opportunity
  • How to experiment more often
  • How to innovate in your approach
  • How to create effective buffers

Opportunity Solutions at a Glance

The keys to opportunity are recognizing windows of opportunity, having buffers in terms of time and energy so you can leverage opportunity, and evaluating trade-offs of missed opportunities. The following are solutions at a glance for finding, exploiting, and maximizing opportunities:

  • How to test the potential of an opportunity
  • Imagination is not enough. Test your results. Find the smallest thing you can do to test an opportunity for feasibility. Lots of things look good on paper or sound good in theory; yet, they don’t pan out. In contrast, lots of things can sound silly but turn out to work great. Test against reality to best assess an opportunity.
  • How to experiment more often
  • Give yourself the freedom to experiment, by simply calling more things experiments. For example, try something new; at worst, have that be an experiment if it doesn’t work out. Find a simple system for adding experiments into your life. For example, it might mean picking a focus for the month and testing your results. You can then cycle through a different experiment each month. You can also test whether adding an experiment each week helps you find more breakthroughs.
  • How to innovate in your approach
  • Periodically test new techniques against results. Changing how you do what you do can boost your results. Evaluate both the process and the results. You might not change your results, but you might change how much you enjoy the process. Changes like these are worthwhile since they help you achieve more sustainable results.
  • How to create effective buffers
  • Even if you don’t feel like the proverbial camel where one more straw will break your back, create buffers of time, space and quantity. Create space by having places that help you get far enough away that you can step back from the problem or situation, and see the bigger picture. Work at a pace where you can get things quickly off your plate rather than being constantly overloaded, and you will naturally have spare capacity. This will help you deal with unexpected events as well as capitalize on opportunity. I’ve heard from an acquaintance who knew someone at the White House that it’s policy for the President to be able to make a chunk of time available within a few hours’ notice if needed; by design, the schedule cannot be packed back-to-back with too-important-to-reschedule items. In terms of quantity, have less open work or fewer balls in the air. Instead of five commitments, have three. Focus on the vital few.

Planning

  • How to create a work breakdown structure
  • How to estimate time
  • How to plan for distractions and disruptions
  • How to avoid plan rigor mortis

Planning Solutions at a Glance

Whether you are planning your next task or planning a project, the idea is roughly the same. Spend the time to map out the work, so you can execute. The keys to effective planning are getting clarity on the outcomes, identifying the work to be done, prioritizing effectively, and dealing with risks and issues. The following are solutions at a glance for effective planning:

  • How to create a work breakdown structure
  • Start with the outcomes and identify the work to be done to achieve the outcomes. Make a list of the jobs to be done. Keep listing the work to be done until you can’t break it down any further. An effective work breakdown structure helps you see at a glance, the type and quantity of the work. You can also get input from somebody who has been there and done that, to help you avoid surprises.
  • How to estimate time
  • Rather than work on things until they are done, decide how much time it’s worth spending on a given task. You can always adjust, but avoid spending 20 minutes on a 5-minute problem. You can base your estimates on previous experience, and you can consult with other people who might have more experience than you. The more you estimate your time, the better you’ll get. If you consistently underestimate or overestimate, then find out why that is.
  • How to plan for distractions and disruptions
  • Stuff happens. Even the best plans have to allow for something to go wrong. If your plan is based on everything going the best possible way, that should raise a flag. Add time buffers, identify potential risks, and have a fallback plan.
  • How to avoid plan rigor mortis
  • If plans are too stiff, they tend to fail against real-world scenarios. Having flexibility in your plans will help you adjust to changing scenarios. Another issue is letting your plan get stuck in analysis paralysis. Plan, then execute. Get the feedback and adjust accordingly. Avoid overly detailed plans. Plan just enough to provide a map, while allowing flexibility.

Prioritizing

  • How to prioritize
  • How to prioritize what gets done first
  • How to triage your issues

Prioritizing Solutions at a Glance

Prioritizing is how you figure out your next best thing to do. It’s about working on the right things in the right sequence. The key to effective prioritizing is working backwards from what you want to accomplish. This includes figuring out what you value most, and making effective trade-offs. Keep in mind that time changes what’s important. This is why you should avoid spending too much time prioritizing lists that will likely change. Prioritize just before you do the work. This will let you respond to emerging needs and windows of opportunity. The following are solutions at a glance for effective prioritizing:

  • How to prioritize
  • Start by figuring out your big picture. You need to have something, one thing that you make time for. I would think of this in threes: one thing for you, one thing for your family, and one thing for work. Carve everything else around that. Set limits. Use limits to spend a minimum of time in things, and a maximum of time in things. I limit my non-value, non-essential, ineffective things, and I maximize my high-value, essential, and effective things.
  • How to prioritize what gets done first
  • Prioritize your incoming actions against your outcomes. The pitfall is to just do what’s easy or just follow routines, answering the question, “What’s next?” Instead, identify what you want to accomplish and ask a more precise question, “What’s the next best thing to do?” This will help you stay focused on your results and help you cut through the forest of to-dos.
  • How to triage your issues
  • If it’s not important for your results, let it go. Otherwise, triage your incoming actions: do it, queue it, schedule it, or delegate it. Do it: if it’s quick, and you can avoid paper shuffling. Queue it: if it belongs on your plate. Schedule it: if you need to allot a certain amount of time for it or if there’s a more appropriate time to focus on it. Delegate it: if it makes sense or if you just don’t have the skills for it. If doing incoming actions is creating too many interruptions, schedule a time in the day or later in the week to batch and focus on the issues. If you’re reacting more than you’re driving, or if you’re spending more time shuffling than doing, than you aren’t triaging effectively.

Reference Information

  • How to factor reference from action
  • How to avoid information overload
  • How to improve your information management

Reference Information Solutions at a Glance

Reference information is any supporting information that you need when working on your results. For example, you might have a long email that has three action items in it. The email is reference. You might have information about your project. The key is to factor the action items from your reference, so you don’t have to work too hard, just to find the action items. The following are solutions at a glance for reference information:

  • How to factor reference from action
  • If you can’t do it, it’s reference. Consolidate your actions separate from your reference information. For example, rather than use your email inbox as a collection of action items, simply write the actions down in a separate list, and drive from that. A simple, consolidated list or index of actions is easier to manage than shuffling larger collections of reference with actions interspersed along the way.
  • How to avoid information overload
  • The best way to avoid information overload is to use effective filters. You set your own filters. The most important filters are your objectives or outcomes. You can use your objectives or outcomes as a filter to find, organize, or filter any relevant information. If it’s not important for your outcomes or objectives, you can let it go. This is a simple, but effective way to cut through a vast amount of information with precision.
  • How to improve your information management
  • Your actions should be easy to find and organize. Simple, scannable lists are the way to go. It should also be easy to archive or get rid of information that’s in your way. You create stable places for your information so that you don’t have to work too hard to find things or to store things. Consolidate your places to look. If it’s not working, change it. If you keep looking for something, but it’s not there, then put it there. For a given type of information, figure out whether to optimize for storing it, or optimizing for finding it, or optimize for viewing it. Just by figuring out how you use information, will help you structure your system better.

Self-Awareness

  • How to improve your self-awareness
  • How to understand and use your strengths
  • How to understand and avoid your weaknesses
  • How to find your blind spots
  • How to learn your personal success patterns
  • How to learn your personal anti-patterns

Self-Awareness Solutions at a Glance

The key to self-awareness is to know your default thinking, feeling, and doing patterns. Rather than lucking out with success, you should know your personal success patterns and anti-patterns. The following are solutions at a glance for self-awareness:

  • How to improve your self-awareness
  • A simple way to improve self-awareness is to reflect on your results each week. Each Friday, you can ask, “What are three things going well and three things to improve?”
  • How to understand and use your strengths
  • Strengths are activities that catalyze you. Strengths are things that come easy for you, you enjoy doing, and you do better than other people. To find your strengths, you can pay attention during the week to which activities you feel you do your best. You can also reflect on what people go to you for or consider your strengths to be. Get input and test.
  • How to understand and avoid your weaknesses
  • Weaknesses are activities that drain you. Improvement comes slowly, if at all, and you don’t enjoy the activity. If a weakness is a liability, try to reduce it. Find ways to spend less time in your weaknesses. Consolidate activities that make you weak if you can’t get rid of them. This helps limit the time you spend in weaknesses.
  • How to find your blind spots
  • Find a sounding board you trust. This could be a trusted set of friends or colleagues that know you well and can provide effective feedback. Ask them what they think your blind spot is. Once you have some suggestions, find ways to test some behaviors that help you deal with your blind spot. Your friends and colleagues might have some good suggestions for how to improve in your blind spot areas.
  • How to learn your personal success patterns
  • Look to your past to see what’s worked. Chances are, you know when you are at your best for various things. For example, you probably know your best routines for sleeping, eating and working out. If you flip back through your life, you can probably remember key patterns that worked well.
  • How to learn your personal anti-patterns
  • Just like success patterns, you can flip back through your life and find patterns that didn’t work for you. You probably have key patterns that work against you. If you can identify these, it will help you avoid these because you can name and organize them.

Strategy

  • How to choose strategies for more effective results
  • How to shift from time-based to value-based
  • How to shift from productivity to results
  • How to flow incremental value
  • How to shift to Timeboxing
  • How to shift to strengths from weaknesses
  • How to pace yourself

Strategy Solutions at a Glance

Tactics are the things we do. Strategy guides our tactics. The right strategy is essential to make your tactics effective. For example, choosing to spend more time in your strengths is a strategy. The techniques you use to perform your tasks are the tactics. Focusing on your strengths improves the results from your tasks. The following are solutions at a glance for strategies:

  • How to choose strategies for more effective results
  • Ask yourself what you want to accomplish instead of what you are trying to do. Measure results by what works. The key is to test and evaluate your results and adapt to improve iteratively. Find and test strategies that help you spend more time on the right things, producing the right results, in a way that’s sustainable for you.
  • How to shift from time-based to value-based
  • Spending more time doesn’t necessarily produce more value. It’s not whether you put in 40 hours or 60 hours. It’s the results you produce. Spend less time by working on the most valuable things and finding the most effective way to achieve results. If the value is for you, check what you’re trading against. You can only spend your time and energy on so many things. If the value is for somebody else, be sure to check what they really value. If they have a lower bar, it’s easy for you to over-engineer. If they have a higher bar, you could miss their expectations. Finding the bar will help you avoid over-investing or under-investing.
  • How to shift from productivity to results
  • Focus on the results you’re getting instead of just on productivity. If you’re not getting the results you want, change your approach. It’s easy to be busy and feel productive when, in fact, you aren’t actually making any real progress toward the right goal. Use your results as a yardstick.
  • How to flow incremental value
  • Chunk your results down. Instead of monolithic or big-bang results, find ways to make incremental progress. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but each day, pieces of it were. You want to bite off chunks that you can quickly start and finish. This will help you bring more things to completion. It helps you build momentum. It builds confidence for you and others that you can produce effective results.
  • How to shift to timeboxing
  • Time limits can help you make sure you’re spending enough time on one thing, and not too much time in another. If you throw time at problems, you don’t find the most effective technique. If you throw time at problems, you throw other areas of your life out of balance. Timeboxing is a strategy that helps you optimize the time you spend and spend your time in the right places.
  • How to shift to strengths from weaknesses
  • Spend more time improving your strengths, than improving weaknesses. You’ll improve more by spending time in your strengths, and you’ll keep your energy strong. The exception is if you have a weakness that limits you or acts as a liability, preventing you from achieving the results you want. Eliminate activities that make you weak. Add more activities that make you strong. Consolidate activities that make you weak as best you can.
  • How to pace yourself
  • Know whether you are running a marathon, a sprint, or a series of sprints. Pace yourself for the long haul. The key is to find a sustainable pace.

Task Management

  • How to manage your tasks
  • How to prioritize your tasks
  • How to manage your plate
  • How to say no

Task Management Solutions at a Glance

Task management includes how you organize, prioritize, and execute your tasks. The following are solutions at a glance for task management:

  • How to manage your tasks
  • The key to managing tasks is making them scannable. Don’t mix action items with reference information. Factor out reference from action; this way, you are able to quickly sift through your potential action items. It should be easy to scan your tasks, and it should be easy to re-sort your list if needed. Another key is to have one place to look. A test is whether you can quickly find the relevant actions for a given objective, and whether you can quickly figure out the next best thing to do without working too hard.
  • How to prioritize your tasks
  • Prioritize your tasks against outcomes. Let things slough off if they get in the way of your best results. Focus on your next best thing to do, and results will take care of themselves. The more you spend your time doing your next best thing, the more you will build momentum and achieve your meaningful results.
  • How to manage your plate
  • Manage your plate by learning your capacity and don’t bite off more than you can chew. Start by setting time limits for your week. This way, you can use time as a budget to spend on your tasks. For example, if you set a limit of 40 – 50 hours for the week, then that’s your time budget for results at work. This gives you a way to prioritize, focus on the vital few, and push back where it makes sense.
  • How to say no
  • Rather than saying no, focus on what you would need to say yes. For example, what resources or time would you need to take this on? Or, what would you need to drop to be able to work on this? When you think in terms of negotiating your results, you get out of defensive mode and into opportunity mode. You open the door for more creative possibilities. Most importantly, you get a good handle on how to think about managing what’s on your plate, as well as setting and resetting expectations.

Time Management

  • How to improve time management
  • How to wake up earlier
  • How to create buffers
  • How to make time for what’s important
  • How to improve work-life balance
  • How to design your week
  • How to design your day

Time Management Solutions at a Glance

Time management boils down to this: what you spend your time on, and how you spend your time (including who you spend your time with). The keys to time management are managing your energy, scheduling time for what’s important, leveraging your power hours and creative hours, and treating time as a first-class citizen. When you treat time as a first-class citizen, you can hit more windows of opportunity. Sometimes the best thing you can do is get lost in the moment and stop watching the scoreboard. If it feels like you keep missing the train, then stop focusing on how you missed the train and focus on catching the next train. The following are solutions at a glance for time management:

  • How to improve time management
  • It’s not how much time you spend; it’s the results you produce. Work at reducing the time you spend, so you can improve your efficiency. Carve out time for what’s important. If you’re a morning person, spend your productive hours in the morning, including your power hours. If you’re a night owl, make those your productive hours. Set time limits and use Timeboxes.
  • How to wake up earlier
  • As simple as it sounds, one of the most effective ways to wake up earlier is to go to bed earlier. This means shifting from trying to add more to your day, and instead, trying to get a fresh start and a jump on tomorrow.
  • How to create buffers
  • Rather than jam your schedule full, create time in your schedule for the unexpected. This will both help you deal with things that go wrong, as well as jump on opportunities that come up.
  • How to make time for what’s important
  • Start with what’s most important and work around that. Make the most important things, the first part of your day.
  • How to improve work-life balance
  • Find balance by investing in your Hot Spots: mind, body, emotions, career, financial, relationships, and fun. These categories support you, and the categories support each other.
  • How to design your week
  • Identify three results you want for your week. Set maximum limits on how much time you spend on work. Set minimum limits on how much time you spend on your relationships. Establish a rhythm for eating, sleeping, and exercise. Carve out time for your fun and renewal. Design your week to spend more time in your strengths and less time in your weaknesses. This will help you renew your energy each day.
  • How to design your day
  • Identify three results you want for your day. These are your tests for success each day. Create a startup routine, such as exercise, breakfast, and taking the back way to work. Create a shutdown routine for the end of the day, such as reading before bed. Carve out a chunk of time, such as a 30-minute Timebox, where you can think about all your problems or stress; when you get distracted by your problems throughout the day, defer them to your Timebox.