Navigating the Seven C’s of Time Management

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” -Mark Twain, Author


  1. Capture: The important thing here is to record ideas that you feel might have value as part of your thinking or future action. At this stage just, just as in brainstorming, the key is to collect ideas with an open mind and broad view. The review, critique and assessment of these ideas with a critical eye comes later. Write down things you feel you might need to do; document decisions that may be required; record innovative or promising ideas, and list things you feel you should investigate further. 
  1. Categorize: Organize the captured thoughts by the major areas of your life. A good approach is to take what you have written down or recorded and group items to compartmentalize your life goals: Family / Social / Life Partner / Spiritual / Intellectual / Physical – Health / Business – Career / Financial / Artistic – Creative. A good gut-check at this point is to make sure that you compile a good balance of ideas or thoughts across the various sectors of your life… if not you might give that additional thought! 
  1. Classify:   Now is the time to review and determine disposition of what you have captured and categorized. Consolidate all into one list and note that there is no sense keeping a hodge-podge of unimportant stuff on your list.  Evaluate the merits and relevancy of all items on your list.  Convert thoughts or ideas into action items, as it is actions you want to manage in the next steps. Then classify by assigning one of the following dispositions for each action item on your list:  Do or Delegate / Delay / Dump. For items where your feelings about retaining are mixed or unclear, put them in the delay class for further consideration. Classify items that require action as DO or Delegate, but don’t take action yet, just code them as such. Scrub the Dump items from the list. 
  1. Calibrate: The next step is to prioritize your list by importance and then by urgency. Items are important if they are tied to basic needs such as health & safety and/or support your goals or the needs of family, close friends, or strategic partners. Using a High, Medium, Low calibration level scheme is simple and works well. Prioritize all action items from High importance to Low importance by listing them in descending order of importance highlighting all urgent items by color. 
  1. Combine:  Now with an eye to organizational efficiency, group your listed items by areas of activity – such as errands / household / at the office.  At this stage decide whether you want to “Do’ or “Delegate” items you classified earlier as requiring action.  Where it makes sense, consolidate items into a shorter list, combining related actions that can be handled one after the other. For example combine all errand running together into one session to limit number of trips. Or group all household chores together if you think they can be made into a family project. Or group creative thinking activities together as there may be a time of day when you are at your most creative. 
  1. Calendarize: Place all action items on your calendar (one calendar in one place for personal and business). Schedule your activities by time blocking appointments, commitments, important (goal supporting) activities as well as time to refresh.  For any action items you classified earlier as “Delay”, determine the first step you want to take and schedule that activity in your calendar.  Look at large, longer term, multi-step activities (projects) and break them down into steps & milestones. Clearly highlight all milestone / goal progress commitment or completion dates on your calendar and schedule all activities so that all commitments to other people and to project deadlines can be met. When you schedule activities on your calendar that are progress items (work in progress to be fully completed later) chunk and calendarize them as smaller steps and make sure that you also schedule the future date for total project completion. This way all activities on your calendar represent a finishing task or a progress task with identified finish time.  Break your daily calendar into 30 minute time blocks for all your life activities – business, family, social, etc. ensuring that you have set time aside for all your routine activities as well. When time blocking activities, leave yourself some extra time on creative tasks and put in contingency time when your activities require involvement of others. Calendarize with an eye to momentum and flow giving yourself time to get into the in the “zone” on uninterrupted work.  Always include time to transition and to re-focus between disparate tasks. 
  1. Commit: Just as you want to make a personal commitment to your goals and to the promises you make to others, you want to commit to timely completion of all the activities on your calendar.  Indeed, your calendar represents a commitment to yourself. When necessary and only after best efforts to complete, adjust your calendar to time block additional time for activities that are running over schedule or past due…. AND then get them done!

Patrick Leask
Tampa, FL
Award Winning Business Strategist and Coach.
Helping Professional Service & Project Based Businesses Accelerate Growth.
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