Hello everyone;

BLUF: I would like to get suggestions on how people stay committed to 90-minute "strategic goals" time slots.

I have been working on my "time management" (and, nope, time has not asked for my management expertise yet). One of the things that I got from MT, the GTD system and Peter Drucker is to schedule 90-minute time slots for your strategic objectives. The problem that I have is that when I get to the 90-minute time slot I end up getting "redirected" by other tasks or tasks currently in-work end up going past the start time of these chunks of time.

I would like to hear some secrets from those who have a good system down as to how they help themselves become more disciplined in these 90-minute slots. Any and all suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

regas14's picture
Licensee Badge

I'm working on the same thing and have a very, very long way to go.

Of course it's all a matter of discipline. Here's what I do:

I have a folder on my desk called "Unplugged." Monday afternoons and Thursday mornings are supposed to be my "Unplugged" times. I turn the monitor off on my computer and turn the ringer down on my phone and I work with a pen and paper.

The vast majority of the highest leverage things I can do to accomplish my key objectives for the year are important but not urgent. In order to accomplish them I have to really step away from the things that pose as high urgency. (This urgency-importance concept is from Steven Covey's "7 Habits of Highly Successful People.") The phone ringing, e-mail coming in, a piece of data popping into my head, these things are much less important than my primary objectives but they repeatedly climb to the top of my task list under the veil of urgency.

My "Unplugged" folder is my way of giving myself permission to forego urgency and focus rather on importance. I manage this folder similar to the way I manage my task list on Outlook. Throughout the week, I put into the "Unplugged" folder items I'll work on during my next session. The goal of each session is to either empty the folder or evolve the task to the next step.

Yesterday was the first "Unplugged" session I missed in 2008. Now, those things I meant to do yesterday in that time are starting to feel urgent. The point is, because it's on my calendar and in my head it's helping realign my priorities to what they should be.

refbruce's picture

I do one of a couple things for that strategic time.

1) Go someplace else and work from there, with Outlook in Offline mode. In some extreme cases, I've even gone off site and off the grid, which is why I try to schedule one strategic block at the start of a day and the other at the end of a day.

2) If I'm in my office for that time, the door is closed, the phone is forwarded to voice mail (does not ring at all), the blackberry is in silent mode, and Outlook is in offline mode.

My staff have been told that it needs to be a major emergency to disrupt me during those times, and my boss knows that if it's critical, he should call my admin and she'll get my attention (boss is in another building). So far, people are cooperating. But I have a good boss and he's on my case to make sure the strategic stuff gets done and I don't waste my time on all of the stuff that's merely urgent.

CalKen's picture

Great, thanks for the initial inputs. These are very helpful.

The one thing that I get from all of this is that when you schedule your times you "unplug" yourself from everything. Although I am in a high-traffic area, I will try to find an area that is quiet where I can focus on these things. I have an office, but I have a co-worker with me and she has her own priorities/questions to ask me.

CalKen's picture

One other thing I wanted to ask but forgot was how often you find useful to schedule these 90-minute blocks. I try to schedule two per day but I am finding that I may need to reduce the number of blocks I create for this purpose.

maura's picture
Training Badge

Are you able to get into work a little earlier than normal sometimes? If so, try it, and schedule your strategic time as the very first thing that day - before the other interruptions derail you. I'm not a morning person by any means, but getting a jump on the day even once a week can make a huge difference.

refbruce's picture

I have two 90 minute blocks in a week for strategic issues. That does not count the time I have blocked off to do things like a) prepare the weekly reports due to my sponsoring agency, b) prepare for my staff meeting, c) prepare for my 1:1 with my boss, and d) deal with debris from my boss's staff meeting.

And I also (deliberately) work an early "shift". I was in today by shortly after 6:00 AM and left shortly before 4:00. That early morning time is wonderful for getting stuff done. Tomorrow will be a bit later, but that early morning time is wonderful for relatively uninterrupted time.

Another thought to try -- reserve a small conference room, go in, and shut the door.

lazerus's picture

I do this weekly on the weekend, usually Sunday.

dorian.w's picture
Licensee Badge

One thing that has worked for me is that when I get to the end of my 90 minute slot, I shift my thinking into 'what do I have to do in the next scheduled 90 minutes.' I found that for me, it took me a while to get re-engaged into what I was doing if I just picked up the file cold, and by taking the last 5/10 minutes of each 90 min time slot to chart out the "Next Action(s)" for the next 90 minute slot, I hit the ground running.

That doesn't deal with external interruptions, but it did make the time I spent more efficient.

mwbirren's picture

[quote="CalKen"]Hello everyone;

BLUF: I would like to get suggestions on how people stay committed to 90-minute "strategic goals" time slots.

what does BLUF stand for?

stephenbooth_uk's picture

[quote="mwbirren"]what does BLUF stand for?[/quote]

Bottom Line Up Front


mwbirren's picture

Bruce (5-7-4-3)

Is this a DISC thing?

stephenbooth_uk's picture

[quote="mwbirren"]Bruce (5-7-4-3)

Is this a DISC thing?[/quote]


The DISC test gives you a score between one and seven for each behaviour type, the higher the score the stronger that behaviour is in you. The example you gave tells us that Bruce is a High-I with significant D and S behaviours. Mine shows that I'm a High-C with a lot of D and practically no I.