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The Other Drucker on Time Management

Sometimes it all just comes down to personal productivity.

David J. Drucker, 02/08/2007

"Okay," you ask, "why would I want to read yet another article on time management?"

Because you're still struggling with the task of controlling your time. According to a lot of journalists who write on practice management topics as I do, the number one complaint they hear from advisors is that they wished they could manage their time more effectively.

Well, most of what I know about time management I learned from Peter Drucker (no post-primate relation, as far as I know), the renowned management consultant who died in 2005. So if you'd rather get what I know directly from the source, pick up a copy of The Effective Executive (HarperCollins Publisher, 1967). Although written 40 years ago, it's one of those timeless books that is just as valuable today as it was then. Another bonus is that it dates back to a time when Drucker wrote books short enough to be read from cover to cover in one or two sittings.

Modern time management is a blend of the fundamentals espoused by Drucker and today's technology, including Web-based application service providers, desktop information management systems, and handheld devices. First, I'll walk you through the fundamentals; then I'll discuss how to execute them.

Step One is to put down on paper your ideal time allocation. Yes, this is a lot like developing a client's ideal asset allocation, except we're talking about your life -- and time--as its essential element. How much time would you like to ideally spend each day on things of importance to you? What does your list look like if you convert it to one of those pie charts you show your clients?

Step Two is to keep a diary, sort of like what you have your clients do to bring their expenses under control. For at least three days that are representative of your life, or a full week if possible, keep a log of where your time goes. I don't mean just time at your desk, but all of your time. At the end of the week, you should have a fairly good idea of how many hours you spent:

On work-related activities, such as.

  • talking on the telephone
  • meeting face to face with prospects and clients
  • number-crunching and plan writing
  • managing portfolios
  • managing people
  • doing miscellaneous administrative chores
  • executing marketing strategies
  • taking breaks

On non-work-related activities, such as...

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