I enjoyed being a guest on the “Tug of War With Time” podcast, hosted by Penny Zenker. During the episode, we talked about my book, Get Organized!: Time Management for School Leaders. We talked about email, Evernote, and managing tasks. Time management techniques are important. We talked about the need for having a system. The text of this post covers the major points.

Here are excerpts from the interview. At the end of this post, you’ll find a link to the full interview.


The uniqueness of the book

With all the time management books on the shelves, why does the world need one more? That was the question in front of me a decade ago when I wrote Get Organized!: Time Management for School Leaders. I faced the same question five years ago while updating the book for a second edition. Time management books generally focus on the business world, but are applicable to other fields. My approach was different. The book is specific to schools and can be applied to any field.

The book also fills a void. Each of us has “repeating tasks” in our lives. These tasks are those we do the same time every week, every month, or every year…

Get Organized!, organization, time management, Evernote, digital task list, zero inboxprovided we don’t wind up forgetting. Yet, the literature on how to handle that feature of our lives is absent from most of those books.

Second, we know that good documentation can save us time, embarrassment, money, and legal troubles. Most time management books are silent on that subject.

The email debate

Even those in the productivity space don’t agree on everything. In the interview, I talk about getting email empty every day. Penny Zenker, the host, advocates keeping everything in her inbox. Listeners will enjoy the two contrasting viewpoints. Some people have collections of folders for their email. I have none. Time management techniques are not necessarily universal.

The calendar and the task list

Quite a few authors favor putting everything on the calendar. I take a different view. The calendar is a place for “where I am.” It’s also a place for date-and-time specific information. For example, I have the dates for Alabama and Auburn football games on my calendar. The reason is not because I will be attending a game. But if I am planning a visit to Tuscaloosa on a fall Saturday, I want to know if I will be fighting game-day traffic.

While my calendar dictates where I am, the task list is a place for all the things I need to do. Few tasks have to be done at an exact time. Starting on that report at 9:00 is fine. An equally-fine time would be 9:15.  The task list lets me choose a date. But if something doesn’t get done on the date planned, it rolls to the next day with no rewriting.

It’s about having a system

Life doesn’t have to be as hard as we sometimes make it. Sure, we have demands on our time. Sometimes those demands are heavier than others. What we need is a system that allows us to put it all in one place. That point is at the heart of the best time management techniques. That way, we can see it all. When you can see all your choices, you make better choices.

One of the secrets is to keep the system clean. Lots of things work. When the system bogs down, it doesn’t mean it’s time to change the system. Usually, it means you need to clean up the system.

Come over and listen to the full interview here.


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