Hacking Your To-Do List.

Hacking Your To Do ListThis week our Twitter feed included a Tweet about consultant Etienne Garbugli’s slideshare, “26 Time Management Hacks I Wish I’d Known at 20.”  Beyond the cheeky conceit of translating “Tips” into “Hacks,” (just have to start doing that!) the presentation is loaded with great advice to save your calendar, your productivity and ultimately your sanity.  I thought it deserved more attention so I’ve pulled out a handful of my favorites from the list.  But first, a short detour to a completely different piece.

On LinkedIn (of course) I read an article by LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner called “The Importance of Scheduling Nothing.”  It’s a manifesto on the critical value of keeping unscheduled blocks of time (30-, 60- or 90-minutes) on your calendar.  Weiner rightly argues that managing your time and organizing your life simply to fit a few more meetings and tasks onto your calendar is a fool’s errand.  Without open time to think, coach, share and consider, managers can’t manage, leaders can’t lead and professionals never grow.  So read Weiner’s article so you know what you should be doing with all that time you save.

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#11:  Separate Thinking and Execution to Execute Faster and Think Better.  How often we find ourselves hammering nails while also revising the blueprint.  This is a classic case of slowing down some so you can ultimately go faster.  To stick with the carpentry metaphor, “Measure twice.  Cut once.”

#2: Only Plan 4-5 Hours of Real Work per Day.  Over-estimating how much you’ll be able to get done in a workday is a sure fire buzz kill.  Days fill up with the unplanned and unanticipated.  This one fits really nicely with Jeff Weiner’s advice to maintain open blocks.  Some of the best stuff can happen when you’re not chained to an impossibly long bullet list.

#12: Organize Important Meetings Early During the Day.  Time Leading Up to an Event is Often Wasted.  Not only that, but eliminating those 5 or 6 hours of second-guessing and performance anxiety just might bring out the best in your team…and give you the back half of the day to execute on the brilliant ideas and breakthroughs you hatched over bagels and coffee.

#20:  If Something Can Be Done 80% as Well by Someone Else, Delegate.  This one hit me right between the eyes.  If there was a patron saint for micro-managers and control freaks, I’d build a shrine.  I see it in myself and in others:  the only way our industry, our companies and our teams grow is by letting go.  But the “80%” in this sentence puts the onus on you to brief, train and communicate clear goals and directions to your people.  Vital.

Being more effective and efficient with your time doesn’t just mean getting more stuff done.  What you discovered, who you empowered, how you decided an important question…this is the stuff of true success.