I saw a post recently on the Portland startup switchboard looking for time management recommendations. At first I thought it was an easy questiont to answer, however the more I thought about it I realized it wasn’t. Here’s the essence of what I posted and some other thoughts.

It All Depends

My experience is that being productive and managing time well depends on a variety of factors. This is a valuable question and an important one to answer, however I believe to give a lasting, effective solution would depend on knowing more about a few things:

  • Personalities of the people invovled
  • Number of people involved
  • Type of business / industry
  • Type of product or project under way
  • What kinds of time management or productivity problems need to be solved (individual productivity, product launches, etc.)

You’ve Got to be Clear on Why

There are lots of tools out there and many of them are good. It’s also easy to chase new tools and techniques in an effort to feel more productive. My experience is that it’s not the tools or techniques themselves that make a lasting winning approach to productivity and time management, it’s the right combination of (in order of priority):

  1. Knowing your WHY
  2. Being clear about what you want and where you are going
  3. Clarity on what the most important things are
  4. Committement to a process and a willingness to apply it for a period of time
  5. Consistency and discipline
  6. Follow-up / accountability by someone somewhat removed/independent of the process
  7. Tooling & techniques

Be Productive on the Right Things

New tools and innovative techniques often give short term wins, but without getting really clear on why you need to be productive and on what, it’s easy to build tooling and technique around the wrong things. And then, while you might be productive and managing your time well in certain areas, the ultimate payoff you want doesn’t come in the areas you really want or need.