Volume 64, July 2006: Organization

Keyzine: An E-zine for Leaders about the People Side of Business

This is a monthly electronic magazine for anyone who wants to be a better leader, coach, facilitator, or simply, to tune up their people skills. It is a complimentary publication, devoted to the next evolution of Quality Thinking.

Publisher: © Key Associates, LLC, 2006 ISSN # 1545-8873

“Anybody who accepts mediocrity – in school, on the job, in life – is a person who compromises, and when the leader compromises, the whole organization compromises.” — Charles Knight

“Half our life is trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save.” — Will Rogers

“Time is life.” — Alan Lakein

“The time to relax is – when you don't have time for it.” — Sidney J. Harris


  • What’s Hot in Leadership
  • Maintaining Yourself as a Leader
  • Frequently Asked Questions from Leaders
  • Educational Opportunities
  • Useful Websites & Newsletters
  • Articles/Publications

What’s Hot in Leadership

  • Understanding “work as process” and making every effort to streamline work processes in accordance with what has value for the customers.
  • Identifying and eliminating time-wasters.
  • Thinking through the most effective use of your time and reallocating the rest.
  • Becoming a shaper of the future and not a victim of the immediate.

Maintaining Yourself as a Leader

Time is the only thing you cannot create more of. As a leader you must juggle priorities, efficiently produce volumes of work, and coordinate others to meet the goals of your organization – to produce “value” (quality at a reasonable cost). The scheduling of your time is a major asset to the organization. Use your calendar to create space for important activities. This includes: creative think time, time to return phone calls, due dates, meeting times (including open office hours), time to complete administrivia, and personal goals. Start each day by planning that day, and review your accomplishments at the end of the day. Look at your time as an investment, and determine what has the greatest pay-off for you and your organization.

Frequently Asked Questions

“I am over-worked, tired, and tense. I do many things that matter very little to me. Is there a way out?”
Control starts with planning. This includes making a list and setting priorities. Lakein’s (1989) classic ABC system suggests sorting tasks by:
  • A = High Value
  • B = Medium Value
  • C = Low Value

These can be further sub-divided by A-1, A-2, etc. Make sure you hit the “A's” in the course of a day, and try to delegate or eliminate the “C's.” Your A items are guided by your lifetime goals. Set goals, clear clutter, and stay focused. A similar system is to flowchart the steps in your work processes and classify them by:

  • Value-added
  • Necessary, and
  • Waste

See Keyzine: Lean Does Not Have to Be Mean.

“I don’t know where my time goes, but there’s never enough.”
Most people don’t either. Time logs are not new to the cache of organizational techniques, but they do allow us to analyze our time usage and identify which tasks have the most value, could be delegated, interrupted, etc. Since most of us don’t realize where the time actually does go, this tool forces us to document where and how we get things accomplished. Only when can we see what it is can we change our system and create a new workable one. See the Activity Log tutorial at the Mind Tools site.
“My schedule is overwhelming. How can I get it organized?”
In the 80’s it was the Day-Timer and Day-Runner. In the 90’s, it was Covey and Franklin planning. Now we have ’roles and goals’ which helps with long term planning. But what about the daily grind? David Allen (2002) says that every task, promise, or assignment has a place and a time. With everything in its proper place and time, you feel in control and replace the time spent on vague worrying with effective, timely action. As a result, the accomplishments grow while the pressure to accomplish decreases. He has a process in which you write down a note about everything: when you take on a new responsibility, make a new commitment, or have a useful thought. All of this ends up in a sort of “in” box. You then go through your “in” box and decide what needs to be done next for each item. For simple issues, this includes identifying the action you should take first and when to take it. Allen has a Two-Minute Rule: if there’s anything you absolutely must do that you can do right now in two minutes or less, then do it now, thus freeing up your time and mind tenfold over the long term. For tougher issues, you schedule an appropriate time to work on your approach to the problem in more detail. You develop your plan, and review your options for what you should be doing weekly (A-B-C).
“Okay, I am a procrastinator. Is there a cure?”
Fiore (1988) notes that procrastination is actually rewarding to many people; knowing how and why it happens is half the battle. Psychologists believe that fear is at the root: fear of failure but perhaps even fear of success and the responsibility that comes with that. Other causes of procrastination can be as simple as waiting for the “right” mood or the “right” time to tackle the important task at hand; opting for more pleasurable or easy-to-do tasks; underdeveloped decision-making skills; poor organizational skills; or perfectionism (why do it at all if you can’t do it perfectly). In psychology, we have a saying, “little steps for little feet.” This means that progress can occur when you take large, intimidating or undesirable tasks, break them down, and organize them into smaller, sequential steps – what to do and when. Then just begin – starting is the way out of procrastination. You will soon feel the value in being a producer versus a procrastinator.


Time management seminars: The Productivity Institute.

Personal time management guide and newsletter.

Free guide to eliminate time wasters and common mistakes: Time Thoughts.

Keyzines on related topics: Meetings, Lean Does Not Have to Be Mean, Bureaucracy, and Picture of a Process.

Useful Websites & Newsletters

Time management skills from Mind Tools: Time Management.

Scheduling software: Goal Pro.

The pickle jar theory of time management: Time Management: The Pickle Jar Theory.

Key Associates offers

  • Leadership Development
  • Help in Streamlining Work Processes
  • On-Site Training Seminars



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