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Effective Time Management – Clear Your Calendar

Apple Inc., was advertising how Siri could let manager “Karen” know that she faced a full day of meetings: “Another busy day today, Karen!” the virtual personal assistant said in the print ad on the back cover Time Magazine’s April 16, 2012 issue.


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At least Siri said “busy” and not “productive”. Because with a closer look at Karen’s day it was clear that her day is filled with nearly useless meetings: a status meeting, a project briefing, a development call (essentially another briefing), and an update. From morning to evening, status meeting after status meeting, with only a lunch with Emily to talk about anything apart from where things stand on this project or that.

“Countless status meetings are a sign that your work time isn’t organized efficiently so you need to fix it.”

This situation is not unique to the fictitious Karen, as people struggle with effective time management every day. In fact, the meeting-crowded calendar is so commonplace that advertising-savvy Apple used the scenario as a neutral backdrop of sorts, so the reader would focus on the delights of Siri itself.

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I used to live like that, sometimes double- and tripled-booked, scurrying to grab a Diet 7-Up between hour-long chunks of time in the fishbowl that was Executive Conference Room #2. Barely getting visibility into others’ work and making almost no headway on my own, which meant that I had to do my own work whenever the meetings finally ended for the day.

Effective time management is impossible if you actually have no time for work to manage and only go from one meeting to another. Any project manager would tell you that this means lack in visibility which needs to be cover by any possible means: reporting, daily scrum, online tool – anything that can keep you on top of your project.

Now, my calendar is largely clear, except for pointed discussions when two or more professionals need to speak live about ideas, and, dare I say, collaborate on a shared goal.

When I need to know the status of something, or to look at the business requirements of a development project, or to be “briefed” and “updated,” I look in an online tool that is part dropbox, part inbox, part chat room, part library and part project manager: Comindware Tracker. Here I view the history of a task or a work item, examine an automated workflow to understand my team’s underlying processes, read the latest revision of a document, view any background material, catch-up on recent discussions about a topic and set priorities based on what I find. It allows me to practice effective time management all from my desk, or my mobile phone, or wherever.

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If I’m called to report on an initiative, I know what’s going on, whether or not my key people are on vacation (or stuck in some meeting). If I have to make a decision about resources or strategy, I have the necessary information to proceed, or at least to know which questions to ask next.

“I write. I think. I consider.”

And you know what else? I now manage my time effectively…

During my work day, I write. Gloriously, wonderfully, amazingly, I write. I think. I consider. I have live conversations with intelligent people about mission-critical topics that don’t necessarily find their way onto a “briefing” agenda. By the way, those “briefing” conversations usually aren’t very brief.

Comindware is where I work, and Comindware Tracker the online workflow management software about which I write. But it’s more personal than that for me. You know how when you travel across several time zones from East to West, and you land at about the same time you departed? How you suddenly have an entire bonus day that you can put to good use? Comindware Tracker is like that. It’s cleared my calendar and given me back my days…

I’m “Siri”ous, give it a try for yourself.

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Kamille Nixon is Senior Manager, Product Marketing for Comindware.
A former newspaper reporter, Kamille specializes in database applications, researching how developments in graph databases help organizations reach their goals. Kamille has an MBA from St. Mary's College of California, Global Business.

Posted on:  in Leadership, Project World