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Better Time Management is Not the Answer

| May 24, 2011

by Jim Bruce

For this week’s Tuesday Reading, we turn to a Harvard Business Review blog post by Linda Hill and Kent Lineback “Better Time Management is Not the Answer.  Hill is the Wallace Brett Donham Professof of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School and Lineback has spent many years as a manager and executive in business and government.  They are co-authors of Being the Boss – The 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader.

Too many of us are regularly hijacked by unplanned events, interruptions, and crises – you know the things that cannot be ignored.  So, what’s a leader to do?

Hill and Lineback argue that this is not you and its not a lack of time management skills.  They say that the reality is that leadership is fragmented and reactive by nature.  You have to do the work of a leader while staying aware of the day’s events.  From their point of view, great bosses use the chaos – the unplanned events, crises, delegation – to do their leadership work.

They call their approach Prep-Do-Review.  In it everything – even the unplanned events, interruptions, and crises – becomes three steps:

1. Prep – before doing anything, you prepare, even for a very short time.  Ask questions such as What am I going to do?  Why?  How does it fit into my goals?  How will I do it?  Who else should be involved?

2.  Do – take the action you prepared.  Having prepared, your doing will be more intentional and not simply reactive

3.  Review – when you’ve finished, think about what you did and what you learned?  How will I do this differently the next time?

In the name of time management, we too often take the quickest, most obvious approach.  Resolve it!  Get it done!  Do!

Prep-Do-Review can convert every activity to a means of pursuing a leadership objective – pursue a goal, develop a staff member, strengthen your team, etc.  Every action has some element of progress.

Think about making Prep-Do-Review a regular practice.  It can convert many of those activities that crowd your days into leadership moments for developing staff as individuals and as members of a group.


.  .  .  .   jim