The Eagle Blog

Managing Multiple Commitments

Man wearing many hatsPersonal productivity is another of my favourite topics … I blog about it relatively often, the most recent was called On the Brink of Out of Control.

When I was a programmer the time management skills that I needed were fairly simple. I had specific tasks to accomplish, there may be a few different “bugs” to fix, some development work, some meetings etc. Perhaps I would have to fit in some ancillary meetings for the social committee, or charitable involvement. It wasn’t too hard to do.

When I was a salesperson life was a little more complicated. I had multiple accounts with multiple contacts in each account. There were multiple sales campaigns to run, and depending upon where they were in the selling cycle I might be involved in a few proposals. Again I might have some ancillary commitments.

Today I am CEO of my own company and life gets quite complicated. I have multiple commitments for various parts of my business. I have client relationships to manage. I have staff to manage. I am heavily involved in two industry associations, which demands a lot of my time. I am active in several charities which again requires a lot of time. As a business owner I have commitments with the company’s external advisors, banks, accountants etc and I have relationships to maintain within the industry.

As a job gets more complicated so too does the “job” of staying organized.

I am probably an anomaly but I don’t have a personal assistant … I have tried it and I drive them nuts! I’m an ex techie and very comfortable doing my own organizing etc … and maybe it makes me a little busier but I also think it gives me a comfort level that I am in control. (oops a little “control freak” thing happening maybe).

So here is a glimpse into MY system for staying on top of all these commitments.

Franklin Time Management QuotesI take lots of notes and my notebook becomes my bible. This becomes a record of what I have done … not necessarily what I have to do!

I have an electronic calendar to keep track of my schedule. This is a record of my past and future time commitments.

I “drive” my activity ( and that is a critical part of personal productivity … you MUST DRIVE the activity and not let IT drive you) with “To Do” lists … and after much experimentation with electronic solutions and paper solutions, I have a hybrid system.

I use my technology to force me to work on specific tasks that I know I need to get done. For these I set up a meeting with myself and block time off.

I have two types of To Do lists … the master list is just a list of the “Projects” on my plate. I may have multiple “projects” for each “hat” that I wear … for instance with one industry association I am driving a survey which is one project requiring lots of tasks to be completed. For my united Way major gifts campaign I have about 20 people to contact … each of them becomes a “task”.

I end up with multiple tasks for each of the multiple projects for each of my multiple roles. One of those roles is my “Personal” role … and I may have projects related to our cars, our home, our family etc.

I try to keep all of my projects “moving” in the right direction and if I’m honest, I’ll let urgency decide when a task just MUST be done.

Each day I scan my “project” lists and determine if there are any urgent items and try to keep all the projects moving along … some days I can do that, others I can’t.

Overall I think I get a lot done this way … there are more automated systems, there are more complicated systems but this seems to be working for me right now. As always, I will continue to refine my “time management methodology” and tweak it to get even better in time.

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Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
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4 thoughts on “Managing Multiple Commitments

  1. Thanks for sharing the "secret sauce" Kevin!

    I remember you mentioning that you also adhered to some elements of David Allen's Getting things Done (GTD) how do you integrate these elements in your process?

    My biggest failure is use of a notebook, I write tonnes but don't go back and read what I wrote enough…;-)

    I would be curious to find out your prioritization secrets as well…maybe in a future Blog post!

    Keep it up and take care

  2. Thanks for sharing the "secret sauce" Kevin!

    I remember you mentioning that you also adhered to some elements of David Allen's Getting things Done (GTD) how do you integrate these elements in your process?

    My biggest failure is use of a notebook, I write tonnes but don't go back and read what I wrote enough…;-)

    I would be curious to find out your prioritization secrets as well…maybe in a future Blog post!

    Keep it up and take care

  3. 1. GTD. David Allen's time management methodology is based a lot on common sense, a lot on shared experiences and has some tools that mean you don't need to recreate the wheel.

    So … I use elements of GTD, such as his Tips and Tricks, "To Do" lists and weekly reviews.

    2. Prioritisation. I keep it very simple … things are either a priority A or "something else". In determining what is a priority the "important/not-important urgent/not-urgent" matrix helps me.

    I used to have a separate priority for P – personal. Now that is a "hat" I wear and there may be several personal projects each of which will have tasks. Those tasks can be as important as work tasks, and so I take A holistic approach. If I am getting everything done that I "need" to get done then I'm "winning". If I also get some of the less important tasks done then I feel like I am getting ahead of the game.

    My job is just another part of my life … and sometimes the balance is more on work side, occasionally I need it to tip towards the personal side. So … as long as everything is "working" its all good!

  4. 1. GTD. David Allen's time management methodology is based a lot on common sense, a lot on shared experiences and has some tools that mean you don't need to recreate the wheel.

    So … I use elements of GTD, such as his Tips and Tricks, "To Do" lists and weekly reviews.

    2. Prioritisation. I keep it very simple … things are either a priority A or "something else". In determining what is a priority the "important/not-important urgent/not-urgent" matrix helps me.

    I used to have a separate priority for P – personal. Now that is a "hat" I wear and there may be several personal projects each of which will have tasks. Those tasks can be as important as work tasks, and so I take A holistic approach. If I am getting everything done that I "need" to get done then I'm "winning". If I also get some of the less important tasks done then I feel like I am getting ahead of the game.

    My job is just another part of my life … and sometimes the balance is more on work side, occasionally I need it to tip towards the personal side. So … as long as everything is "working" its all good!

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