6th February 2017

Choose Time Investment Tactics That Work For You

Starbucks President Michelle Gass wakes up at 4:30 a.m. every morning to go running. Avon chairman Andrea Jung wakes up at 5:00 a.m. Vogue editor Anna Wintour is on the tennis court by 6:00 a.m. every morning before work. For these women, starting early is a key tool for increasing their productivity and effectiveness throughout the day.

Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Work Week, takes a different approach to investing his time. He says that there are “two synergistic approaches for increasing productivity. Limit tasks to the important to shorten work time. Shorten work time to limit tasks to the important.”

What is right for you? Let’s maximize the hours in each day by choosing time investment tactics that work for you. Outlined below are the time investment strengths of each Productivity Style to use and leverage as you invest your time and complete work. Specific tactics you can use to capitalize on the minutes you have each day follow the time investment strengths.

Remember to personalize your tactics. Look first at the tactics for your primary Productivity Style. If you have a primary preference or a very close preference for two styles, look at the tactics listed under each style and combine them in a way that works for you.

If You’re a Prioritizer

Your Strengths Are:

• Effective, efficient utilization of time

• Maximization of time to increase work output

• Ability to focus on the highest value task

• Ability to avoid wasting time on tasks/projects that are unproductive or unimportant

So Try These Tactics:

• Time how long it takes you to complete routine tasks, so you can plan your days and weeks even more accurately.

• Start your day with your highest priority project or task.

• Eliminate all clutter – physical and mental. No clutter means no time wasted on maintenance.

• Think about projects that may be completed during down time or slow time. Without a high volume of work, you become bored, which negatively impacts your effectiveness and efficiency.

A Prioritizer in Action: When executive Marissa Mayer was at Google, she typically crammed 60 meetings into her work week. To offset that grueling schedule, she planned a one-week trip roughly every six months, often to a new location. Knowing that she would be out of the office forced her to put systems in place to keep things running smoothly.

If You’re a Planner

Your Strengths Are:

• Ability to plan the time needed to complete tasks

• Sequential organization of tasks

• Accurate, complete project plans

• Minimization of risk of re-work by following best practice or historical precedent

So Try These Tactics:

• Schedule open or buffer time each week to allow for unexpected opportunities, issues, or problems.

• Build fluidity and flexibility into your plans, allowing for creative insights and the ability to effectively navigate issues or crisis.

• Create a structure and plan for the week.

• Include thinking and reflecting time, which is especially valuable to you as a Planner.

A Planner in Action: Illene Gordon, CEO of Ingredion, a global ingredient manufacturer that works with food companies like Nestle, Kraft, and Unilever, said, “I am a big believer in being organized. Every Sunday night was family night. We’d have dinner and lay out a plan for the week and month. Sometimes my daughter would say: I have a big paper due, and I’d like your input. I would copy the chapter she was working on, take it with me, and call her from the road so we could talk about it. Once, I gave her a spelling test from the back of a taxi. It was a lot of energy and you have to be willing to do it, but I never thought for a moment it wasn’t possible. You have to have a plan. We had a backup to the backup.”

If You’re an Arranger

Your Strengths Are:

• Ability to see the big picture

• Ability to encourage teamwork to maximize work output

• Intuitive decision-making in real time as events unfold

• Ability to block time to complete work

So Try These Tactics:

• Know your attention span and plan around it.

• Turn off your email notification feature.

• Schedule time in the day to connect and interact with people.

• Align the execution of the task to your energy level.

An Arranger in Action: Author Keith Ferrazzi is a classic Arranger—in fact, his best-selling book is titled Never Eat Alone, which is a typical Arranger’s motto. Keith advises, “If you have 15 minutes to spare – ping someone – email/connect – use extra time in the day to send an article, make a call or send a text. Taxi time is pinging time. Plane time is pinging time. I reserve those moments for relational curation.”

If You’re a Visualizer

Your Strengths Are:

• Ability to see the big picture

• Ability to work well under pressure

• Ability to work very quickly

• Ability to effectively manage and juggle multiple tasks and projects

So Try These Tactics:

• Ask yourself, “What is the best use of my time right now?”

• Set firm but realistic deadlines.

• Stay away from boring and repetitious work.

• Keep your calendar visual at all times and stick to simple, basic time frames.

A Visualizer in Action: Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, shared this classic Visualizer advice with entrepreneurs, “Give the rest of your team space to work—in many cases, by moving your office out of the building. Remove yourself from the business’s day-to-day functions and find someone to replace you as head of operations so that you will have enough uninterrupted time to look at the big picture and make decisions about the company’s future direction.”