Archive for Time Management


Posted in "Self-Discipline and Time Management" by Brian Tracy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 17, 2012 by Robert Finkelstein

Along with hundreds of inspirational quotes, beautiful images, recommending reading, and my own personal and business blogs, at “Behind the Scenes / Virtual COO” you will find the writings and videos of those whose intention is to inspire, motivate and push us to think outside the box.


There is perhaps no area of your life where self-discipline is more important than in the way you manage your time. Time management is a core discipline that largely determines the quality of your life.

Peter Drucker says, “You cannot manage time; you can only manage yourself.”

Time management is really life management, personal management, management of yourself, rather than of time or circumstances.

Time is perishable; it cannot be saved. Time is irreplaceable; nothing else can replace it. Time is irretrievable; once it is gone or wasted, you can never get it back. Finally, time is indispensable, especially for accomplishment of any kind. All achievement, all results, all success requires time.

The fact is that you cannot save time; you can only spend it differently. You can only move your time usage from areas of low value to areas of high value. Herein lies the key to success, and the requirement for self-discipline,

Time management is the ability to choose the sequence of events. By exerting your self-discipline with regard to time, you can choose what to do first, what to do second, and what to do not at all. And you are always free to choose.

You require tremendous self-discipline to overcome the procrastination that holds most people back from great success. It is said that “procrastination is the thief of life.” A native Indian once told me that it is even worse. He said, “Procrastination is the thief of dreams.”

The Pareto Principal, the 80/20 rule, says that 20% of the things you do contain 80% of the value of what you accomplish. This means that 80% of what you do is worth 20% or less of the value of what you accomplish.

Because of this disparity, some things you do are five times, and even ten times, more valuable than other things. The challenge for most people is that the most important things you do are big, hard and difficult. The 80% of things that you do that make little or no difference to your life are fun, easy and enjoyable.

You can tell the value that something has to you by the amount of time you invest in it. You always pay attention to and spend time on what you most value, whether it is your family, your health, your social or sports activities or your money and career. It is only by looking at how you spend your time that you, and everyone else, knows what is really important to you.

The essence of time management is for you to discipline yourself to set clear priorities, and then to stick to those priorities. You must consciously and deliberately select the most valuable and important thing that you could be doing at any given time, and then discipline yourself to work solely on that task.

In your personal life, you goal is to get the highest “return on energy” from your activities. Ken Blanchard refers to this as getting the highest “return on life.”

Just as you would be careful about investing your money to assure that you get the highest rate of return, you must be equally as careful when you invest your time. You must be sure that you earn the highest level of results, rewards and satisfaction from the limited amount of time you have.

Always, before you commit to a time consuming activity, you must ask, “Is this the very best use of my time?”

Lack of self-discipline in time management leads people to procrastinate continually on their top tasks, leading them to spend more and more time on task of low-value or no-value. And whatever you do repeatedly eventually becomes a habit.

Many people have developed the habit of procrastination, of putting off their major tasks and instead spending most of their time on activities that make very little difference in the long run.

One of the most important words in developing the discipline of time management is “consequences.” Something is important to the degree that it has serious potential consequences for completion or non-completion. A task or activity is unimportant to the degree that it does not matter if it is done or not.

Completing a course of study at the university can have enormous consequences that can impact your life for many years to come. Completing a major task at work, or making an important sale, can have significant consequences on your job and your income.

On the other hand, drinking coffee, chatting with co-workers, reading the newspaper, surfing the Internet or checking emails may be enjoyable, but these activities have few or no consequences. Whether you do them or not makes little or no difference to your work or your life. And it is precisely on these activities that most people spend their time.

There is a simple time management system that you can use to overcome procrastination. It requires self-discipline, will power and personal organization, but by using this system, you can double and triple your productivity, performance and output.

Start by making a list of everything you have to do each day, before you begin. The best time to make this list is the evening before, at the end of the workday, so that your subconscious mind can work on your list of activities while you sleep. You will often wake up with ideas and insights on how to more effectively complete the tasks of the day.

Apply the A B C D E Method to your list:

A = “Must do” – Serious consequences for non-completion;

B = “Should do” – Mild consequences for doing or not doing;

C = “Nice to do” – No consequences whether you do it or not;

D = “Delegate” – Everything you possibly can to free up more time for those things that only you can do;

E = “Eliminate” – Discontinue all tasks and activities that are no longer essential to your work and to achieving your goals.

Review your list of activities for the coming day and write an “A,B,C,D, or E” before each task before you start.

If you have several “A” tasks, separate them by writing A-1, A-2, A-3, and so on. Do this with your B and C tasks as well.

The rule is that you should never do a B task when you have an A task left undone. You should never do a lower value task when you have a higher value task before you.

Once you have organized your list using this system, discipline yourself to start on you’re A-1 task first thing in the morning, before you do anything else.

Once you have begun work on your most important task, you must discipline yourself to concentrate single-mindedly, with 100% of your time and attention, until that task is complete.

It takes tremendous self-discipline to select your most important task, and then to start on that task rather than doing anything else. But once you begin work on it, you will start to feel a flow of energy that motivates and propels you into the task. You will feel more positive and confident. You will feel excited and happy. The very act of starting on an important task raises your self-esteem and motivates you to continue.

Deep within each person is an intense desire to feel strong, effective, powerful and in control of his or her life. You automatically trigger these feelings of self-confidence and self-esteem when you start to work on the task that is most important to you at the moment.

This ABCDE Method seldom takes more than about ten minutes to organize your entire day. But you will save ten minutes in execution for every minute that you invest in this way of planning before you begin.

As you feel yourself moving forward, making progress on your most important task, your brain will release a steady flow of endorphins, nature’s “happy drug.” These endorphins will make you feel positive, focused, alert, aware and completely in control.

When you discipline yourself to continue to push through against your natural resistance, and complete a major task, you get an “endorphin rush.” You experience this as a sense of elation, exhilaration, happiness and higher self-esteem. By completing a major task, you feel exactly like an athlete who has crossed the finish line first. You feel like a winner.

Your payoff from excellent time management is continuous. As soon as you begin to plan and organize your time, set priorities, and begin on your A-1 task, you will feel happy and more in control of yourself and your life.

Starting today, you should apply these key time management principles to every area of your life. Apply them to your work, your family, your health, your exercise routine and your financial decisions and activities.

You require tremendous discipline to set priorities and then to stick to those priorities. You require the continuous exertion of discipline and will power to overcome the procrastination that holds most people back. And the more you discipline yourself to use your time well, the happier you will feel and the better will be the quality of your life in every area.

– This excerpt is from “The Power of Discipline: 7 Ways It Can Change Your Life” by Brian Tracy

If you’re interested in a complimentary 30-minute business strategy session with Chief Operating Officer, Robert Finkelstein, or for more information, please refer to Behind the Scenes Consulting. If you have questions, please email Robert at Your comments are welcomed below. Thank you.

TIME MAKEOVER: Free Up Hours You Didn’t Think You Had by Laura Vanderkam

Posted in General Management, Life Management, TIME MAKEOVER: Free Up Hours You Didn’t Think You Had with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 6, 2011 by Robert Finkelstein

Along with the inspirational quotes, the beautiful images, and my own personal and business blogs, at Behind the Scenes / Virtual COO you will find the writings and videos of various thought leaders.

TIME MAKEOVER: Free Up Hours You Didn’t Think You Had by Laura Vanderkam

Most of us have more free time than we realize. Even those who work 60 hours a week and sleep eight hours a night still have 52 additional hours each week. The problem is that we tend to burn many of those hours thoughtlessly on things that aren’t vital or particularly enjoyable, such as watching TV or browsing the Internet.

Our lives would be more productive and fun if we consciously chose what to do with our time. Here’s an eight-step time-management makeover to do just that…

* Step 1: Log how you spend your time for a week. Record your activities in a notebook or on the free downloadable spreadsheet available on my Web site (, click “Your Time”). Be sure to include any breaks that you allow yourself in the middle of other tasks. If you think the week isn’t representative of a typical week, record another week.

* Step 2: Create your “List of 100 Dreams.” There’s a reason most of us don’t spend much time pursuing the things we really want—we don’t know what we really want.

Create a list of 100 things that you would like to accomplish—not just big, ambitious goals, but also smaller things that you suspect would make you excited or joyful… or that you might remember with fondness or pride when you look back on your life.

Examples: Your list might include vacation destinations that you would like to visit… projects that you want to complete related to your career or a hobby… skills that you would like to acquire… even books that you would like to read.

At least a few of the 100 dreams should be things that can be achieved in one day. These are likely to be checked off the list quickly, boosting your confidence in your ability to accomplish your more difficult dreams.

Examples: Reading a children’s book you never got around to when you were a kid… attending a performance of your favorite opera… making an apple pie from scratch.

Helpful: If you can’t come up with 100 dreams, try just 25 and proceed with the following steps anyway. Return to your list periodically until you get to 100.

* Step 3: Identify your core competencies.
What do you do better than anyone else… and what are you better positioned to do than anyone else?

Examples: Perhaps no one is as good as you at dreaming up new sales channels for your company’s products… or at teaching young children.

We tend to feel most useful and happy when we devote time to tasks for which we see ourselves as irreplaceable. Examine your one-week time log. How much of your time are you devoting to your core competencies? You want to devote as much time to them as possible.

* Step 4: Clear the slate. Rethink your time commitments. There are 168 hours in each week, and how we spend those hours is for us alone to decide. Yes, we all need to eat and sleep, and most of us need to do something to earn money—but it’s empowering to start from scratch and rethink every time commitment, even those that seem inflexible.

Examples: If you are willing to earn less, you could quit your job and find a less time-consuming career. If you are willing to eat simpler meals, you could save the time you spend cooking.

* Step 5: Print out a new, blank weekly log from my Web site… or take out a fresh piece of paper. Fill in your new schedule with your priorities and options in mind. Start by thinking in broad terms about when you would like to work… sleep… spend time with family and friends… and engage in specific, structured leisure activities.

Example: If your goal is to spend more time with your young children or grandkids, you could leave the office at 4:00 twice a week, then make up that lost time by spending an hour or two responding to nonurgent work e-mails from home after the kids are in bed.

Also, put your morning hours to better use. The morning is when we are most alert and energetic—yet most of us waste this time puttering around, checking our e-mails or sitting in rush-hour traffic. Make the morning your time to pursue your most important dream… or to get some exercise. If you currently have no free time on weekday mornings, go to bed an hour earlier and get up an hour earlier.

Next, schedule your core-competency time. Block out specific work time and personal time to pursue whatever it is that you do better than everyone else.

Finally, choose one or two entries from your “List of 100 Dreams,” and write them into this week’s schedule wherever you find openings. Larger dreams should be broken into specific “actionable steps,” which can be included on the schedule.

Example: If the dream is “launch my own business,” the first actionable step might be “speak with experienced business owners I know about how to get started.”

* Step 6: Ignore, minimize or outsource things that you don’t enjoy, that aren’t very important or that others could do as well as you. What household tasks do you like least? Which chores absorb the most time? Answers might include mowing the lawn, doing the laundry or picking up clutter. Pay someone to do these things, or lower your standards—who says that you have to clean every week?

* Step 7: Fill free moments with small sources of joy. There are brief open blocks of time during even the busiest days. We tend not to take full advantage of this time because we are not properly prepared for it.

Compile a list of things that give you joy that take 30 minutes or less… and another list of things that give you joy that take 10 minutes or less.

Examples: Reading a few pages of a novel… doing yoga stretches… or working on a crossword puzzle.

* Step 8: Tune up your schedule each year. Does your life feel in balance? Are your major priorities being met? Are you making inroads on your 100 Dreams list? If not, again log your time for a week and search for time that could be put to better use.

Eventually, creating a life in which you have it all will no longer seem so hard.

– Laura Vanderkam

If you’re interested in a complimentary 20-minute business strategy session with Robert Finkelstein, for more information, please refer to Behind the Scenes Consulting. If you have questions, please email Robert at Your comments are welcomed below. Thank you.

INVEST IN YOURSELF by Robert Finkelstein

Posted in General Management, Life Management, Time Management with tags , , , , , , , on June 29, 2009 by Robert Finkelstein

invest in yourselfYou know any good investments? I do. I always do. My answer, “Invest in yourself.”

This is a lifetime investment and it can pay immeasurable dividends. Ask yourself what you do to create a wealthier you…and I’m not talking about money.

If you want to be rich, try some of these investment strategies.
1. Read – Find books that stretch your imagination, challenge your way of thinking, raise your bar and lead you down a path of growth and transformation. Don’t forget to turn of the TV in the background.
2. Exercise – Talk to your doctor. Get a report card. Design a fitness routine that’s appropriate for you and one you’ll stick to. I’d recommend finding a workout partner too. Remember, no pain, no gain.
3. Diet – Again, talk to your doctor. Find out what’s missing and what you might have too much of. You got one body. I suggest you treat it right.
4. Manage your time – Over the last few weeks, I’ve offer some great tools. Re-read them. Keep a journal. Stay organized and on task. Make the most of your day, every day. The feeling of accomplishment is very satisfying.globe
5. Your Time – Whatever time during the day you can dedicate exclusively to you, make it happen. Perhaps it’s a lunch break, could be your commuting time, you decide. What time is it? Tend to you.
6. Expand your network – This couldn’t be easier. With all-too-addicting social networking websites like Facebook and MySpace, you can find the ones that appeal to you, your interests and career. Of course, the old fashioned, meeting in person, social groups is always nice. Whatever you preference, get to work on that network.
7. Education – As the Managing Director of a seminar company, I’m a big advocate for continued education. Do your research. Find seminars, trainings, online programs and night classes that expand your world. Knowledge is so empowering.
8. Invest in someone else – Take care of yourself first, and when that’s on track, share your transformation and learnings with someone else…and then someone else…and then…. You get the idea.

These are just a few simple ideas. You probably have lots more.

**RING** The market just opened. Start investing!

If you have any questions or comments,
please write them below or email me at

Building Rapport

Posted in General Management, Life Management, Time Management with tags , , , , , , , , on June 25, 2009 by Robert Finkelstein

rapportI’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “Lead By Example.” Regardless of your position in a company, be a rapport builder. Quite honestly, it’s easy to do and the benefits far out way the alternative. Being liked is not a bad thing, and that doesn’t mean you can’t be a tough manager of a team. What it does mean, is that to you, it’s not all about work all the time. Your relationships, in and out of work, are what will determine much of your success.
Here a few great ways to build rapport…and put smiles on faces.
1. SMILE more often
2. Don’t forget to use these very important words: Thank you, Please, Good morning, Goodbye
3. Take no one for granted
4. Acknowledge birthdays and special occasions, and when necessary, tragedies as well
5. Watch your language, keep it clean
6. Lend a helping hand when able
7. Don’t speak about other employees behind their back
8. Try to confront issues and not the person
9. Take time to talk to the team, individually if possible
10. Be approachable; doesn’t have to be all the time, but find the time
11. Don’t play favorites

Pretty simple, wouldn’t you say?
Now smile…you’re building your rapport.

If you have any questions or comments,
please write them below or email me at

In Who Do We Trust?

Posted in General Management, Life Management, Time Management with tags , , , , , , , on June 24, 2009 by Robert Finkelstein

TrustSome people are very trusting. Others, because they’ve been burned, require a whole lot of effort before they’re willing to let someone in again.

Call me naive, call me crazy, or don’t call me at all, but I generally like to believe that most people come from a good place. Most are not out to get ya. That being said, I’m no pushover either. So I decided to make a list of the some of the telltale signs of someone you just might want to reconsider going into business with, lending money to, or handing over the keys to your new
1. Those who blame you for everything, even when they clearly carry some of the responsibility
2. Those who never let you off the hook
3. Those who are chronically late and don’t apologize
4. Those who push their work on you
5. Those who are too busy to help you
6. Those who never return the favor
7. Those who feel that their ideas are always superior
8. Those who don’t look you in the eye
9. Those who always want to work with their vendor, their friends…and not yours
10. Those who seem to have an excuse for everything
11. And above all, those who rarely do what they say they will

Remember: “Trust everyone, but cut the cards.”

If you have any questions or comments,
please write them below or email me at

Teamwork Makes It Easier by Robert Finkelstein

Posted in General Management, Time Management with tags , , , , , , , on June 18, 2009 by Robert Finkelstein

TeamworkLet’s start this off with a line from one of my favorite childhood movies, Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang
“Teamwork, can make a dream work, if we all pitch in and try.” I couldn’t say it any better.

So how do you foster teamwork in your workplace? Here are a few suggestions that will definitely help.
1. Create team problem solving sessions.
2. Respect everyone’s ideas and opinions.
3. Help others whenever it’s appropriate.
4. Increase time for the team to be together inside and outside of work.
5. Lead by example.
6. Improve your communication with the team.
7. Take interest in the team, aside from just business.
8. Reward progress and teamwork.
9. Anticipate concerns and problems. Be proactive.
10. Have fun!


“It is amazing how much you can accomplish when it doesn’t matter who gets the credit.” That’s what teamwork is all about.

If you have any questions or comments,
please write them below or email me at

Decide Not To Decide by Robert Finkelstein

Posted in General Management, Time Management with tags , , , , , , , on June 15, 2009 by Robert Finkelstein

decision makerHow many decisions do you make at work that probably could have or should have been make by someone else? If you’re dedicated to managing your time more efficiently, then it’s time to let some decisions go.

If you’ve assembled a strong team, then you need to empower them to make most of the decisions. Establish their guidelines and limitations. Once those are in place, step away. Remember, “don’t sweat the small stuff.” Delegating projects that require a minimal amount of your attention can be placed in the team’s capable hands. They’ll come to you when they need to…I can assure you. Assuming they’re doing a good job, then gradually, they’ll do that less and less.

Use the additional time you now have wisely. As with all the time management tools I’ve suggested, the intention is to improve your business and the balance in your life.


Remember, make it clear what decisions still rest in your hands. The big ones – perhaps financial targets, policies, hirings, promotions, business strategies and alliances. You know your business best.

You decide…what to decide.

If you have any questions or comments,
please write them below or email me at