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A 90-Minute Plan for Personal Effectiveness

| March 8, 2011

by Jim Bruce

Today’s reading focuses on building a practice to increase your daily personal effectiveness.  The IT Leaders Program emphasizes being intentional and planful with the use of your time.  Specifically, we’ve suggested identifying and formally setting aside regular times to plan your week/day.  For example, you might schedule time Sunday evening or on Monday morning to review the coming week to make sure you have reserved time to address your priorities.  Another option would be to schedule time at the start of each day to review that day and make any adjustments to the day necessitated by events unknown to you when you planned the day.  And, of course you could do both weekly and daily planning and review.

In our reading for today – “A 90-Minute Plan for Personal Effectiveness” – Tony Schwartz, president and CEO of the Energy Project, argues that you should set aside 90 minutes near the beginning of each day to address the most challenging task you need to work on that day.  He notes that many of the tasks he works on are ones that are “important but not urgent.”  As Schwartz notes, these are just the tasks we most likely postpone, deciding to do those tasks appear more urgent, easier, and provide more gratification.

Swartz says that his success in doing this depends upon starting at a specific time, working for 90 minutes, turning off email and messaging, not answering the phone, and closing all windows open on his computer not associated with the task at hand.  I think the examples of what Swartz was able to accomplish are compelling.

So, why don’t you give this a try.  For a number of years when I was CIO, I reserved 9-12 on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for such work.  I’d block off the time — defensive calendaring, so to speak — so that there would always be time for me to work on the longer projects that were all too easy to put off because there wasn’t time available.  I’ve gotten out of the habit and am working to get back to it being a practice again.  Won’t you join me!


.  .  .  .  .     jim