Pragmatic time management - Advanced time management. [more...]


Time management means using your time wisely. Instruments to aid you in this have to be selected and adapted to help meet this goal in an optimal way. For X47 this means helping you remember what is important and keeping your notes in a compact and efficient space.

X47 Time Management: Pragmatic, If You Please

Time management today has to be simple, fast, stable, concentrated, efficient, pragmatic and above all mobile.
Disengage yourself from the paradigm of perfection and completeness.
You do not have to be perfect. You do not have to make note of everything.
You do not have to do everything. You have to do what’s essential.

X47 Time Management: Make Short Work of It

Collect and check all of the tasks that really concern you. What doesn’t concern you and what obviously does not make sense belongs in the waste paper basket.
Checking all your tasks in fast forward: Can you complete a task in 4 minutes? If yes, do it.
The management of activities should never take longer than the task itself.
Everything that remains should be graded according to importance, not according to urgency.
Importance means: What brings me closer to my objectives? - A precondition is preparatory work: You know your values and long-term objectives, both professional and private. A hierarchy of partial targets can be developed from that.
There are three levels of priorities: A – very important in order to achieve a target, B - sensible and C “nice to have". Only record A and B tasks in your time management planner, C priorities belong in your notes. Check which A and B tasks are urgent or when they will become urgent.

X47 Time Management: Urgency?

The matrix of urgency and importance that defines the priorities A, B and C defined and presented everywhere (Eisenhower-Matrix)) is not practical.

Can you always analyze the urgency and importance of a task - two completely different dimensions of assessment? And for every activity? That is hard work.

Attention: Even high urgency does not turn a B task into an A priority, unless there are impending problems if you delay.

Pragmatically that means: If it is important, do it. If it isn’t, don’t (you will make your own exceptions…)

X47 Time Management: Practical, if you please!

The age of 1001 forms is over. Naturally, it is easier for a time management beginner to start by sorting all activities, noting everything and evaluating it all logically. But where will that get you? A large investment of your time would be needed for this kind of evaluation. And in the mean time, you might lose sight of the big picture. With all the activities, there is no way of knowing what is actually important.
In your X47 organizer, space is purposely reduced. The basic idea behind this is: What doesn’t fit in your calendar organizer doesn't fit in your day.
Space is limited – just like your time.
In order to structure ideas and thoughts nonetheless, X47 provides notebooks and a project book in which you can work on twelve projects.

X47 Time Management: Important?

If you are utilizing your time to capacity and your usual optimization potential has been exhausted, you have arrived in the realm of decision-making conflicts. You have to decide straight away what is more important.
Precisely the objectives “family life” and “health” are sacrificed daily. If your work schedule is “full”, then a delay at 11am means that Daddy or Mommy will come home later from work. If your work schedule is “full”, then a talkative colleague at the coffee machine in the morning is the cause of you arriving later at the anniversary dinner you’ve been planning for weeks. And a salesman that is “coincidentally” in the area and just wanted to say “hello”, is the reason why you can’t go running after work. What is your politeness worth? Learn to say “No"!
Deciding means doing without!
Prof. Dr. Bruno Tietz, †1995
(Working) time is money – or free time! The time that you save during the day doesn't extend your work schedule and doesn't get you back any private time. With every activity, especially the time consuming activities, ask yourself: “Is this activity or conversation or level of politeness so important that I see my children less because of it?”

X47 Time Management: Set priorities!

The pivotal question in time management is: “What is important to you?" Here are three approaches to help answer this question:

  • Prioritize on instinct.
    The quickest way to make decisions is spontaneously, based on your instincts. Some people have a special talent for this and are as quick and confident as one can be. This instinct is there and you can train it to a certain degree.
    But this gift also has a down side. On the one hand, it is pretty rare and very few of us have it to the extent required. On the other hand, instinct can be influenced by external circumstances and is seldom completely "reliable".
  • Prioritize using a value plan
    The second fastest way to make decisions is by using a value or objective plan.
    The dimensions of a value plan can be found:
    • Within yourself
    • In your corporate philosophy
    • In your boss’ decisions.

    The following corporate value approaches are common:

    • “Client first” - the customer is most important
    • “Employee first”
    • “Profit first” – profit orientation
    • Profit margin, costs, turnover, …

    As well as important personal values:

    • Children, partnership, family
    • Health
    • Avoidance of stress
    • Friends
  • Prioritise the value of money

    The most involved but safest way of making decisions occurs on the basis of numbers. Here you might use monetary units per time unit. This is based on the previously mentioned value plan and refines the value system with monetary units.

    It is important to note that each employee lives by two monetary value systems:

    • The value system within a company, based on full costs per hour
    • The private value system, based on net wage per hour.

    This often leads to conflicts between objectives. While an employee thinks: “I’m just going to take a 5 minute cigarette break, that’ll just cost me a cigarette”. His boss is thinking: “He’s smoking again and there goes another five minutes, that costs me $5 (because the full costs per hour for his position costs $60)".

    More on this topic in the book “Use Time Optimally”.

X47 Time Management: Value of Free Time

What is an additional hour of free time worth to you?

As an employee, you can't really improve your net income by working more within your company. It is therefore clear, just how high your net earnings are per hour. Imagine, you could BUY more time for your family, friends or your hobby. How much is an additional hour of free time worth to you? A little brainteaser: Imagine you are working as a freelancer and are paid by the hour without a time budget, e.g. $100 per hour of work. What does that mean to you? What could it mean?

  • 1. A trip with your car for one hour that you can’t invoice, costs you $100 plus additional costs for the car. A train ticket would be cheaper and you could work during the trip.
  • 2. Cleaning your apartment, for which you need three hours, costs you $300! For that you could get someone to clean it for you for 30 hours!

If you revalue your own time with an hourly rate and disregard the “fun factor”, you would get the following time-money substitutes:

  • 1. Shop from catalogues, the internet or by telephone.
  • 2. Get your groceries delivered rather than go shopping yourself.
  • 3. Shop expensively, but quickly, rather than searching for cheaper offers.
  • 4. Use other types of transportation (taxi, bus, …)
  • 5. Use household helpers or personal secretaries (even a couple of hours a week help enormously).
  • 6. Use professional service providers.

X47 Time Management: Prioritize Consistently

To prioritize consistently means

  • ... that B and C priorities may get put off again and again... that the wrapping up of a meeting may get put off in favor of another A priority.
  • ... a B priority meeting may be cancelled at short notice.
  • ... that tidying up may not take place for a while.
  • ... that you cancel something five times.
  • ... that you allow errors sometimes (especially in emails). That you talk in short sentences, rather than chat pleasantly.
  • ... that you cancel a C deadline.
  • ... that you smile pleasantly in the corridor, but don’t stop for a chat.
  • ... that you cut a meeting short at the appointed time.
  • ... that you note down your answers to a fax by hand (better quick and pragmatic than perfect or not at all).
  • ... that you don’t take a flight that has already been paid for.
  • ... that you are not perfect for once.
  • ... that you aren't polite all of the time

X47 Time Management: Unpleasant To-Dos?

An important criteria when analyzing To-Dos is: Is it easy or does it make you nervous? Unpleasant To-Dos are the biggest bottlenecks! They hinder, delay and spoil your day. The faster these To-Dos get done, the more fun you will have at work. The following tips are helpful when dealing with such problems:

  • Deal with one unpleasant To-Do every morning!
  • Use the energy of a new day
  • The completed item frees you for the rest of the day
  • You don’t have to procrastinate on the task
  • The completed task doesn’t put pressure on you anymore!

Look for a partner!

  • Together you have more momentum
  • Create a deadline with a colleague!

Overcome your starting block!

  • First make a plan
  • Read all relevant information through again

Put yourself under pressure!

  • Set a finishing date

Promise yourself a reward!

X47 Time Management: Time and Money

A quick look in your own wallet shows you that money is becoming a scarce resource.

How do you deal with the scarce resource “money”?

You might think about what you are spending it on, save it by not buying something or try and buy something cheaper. You might invest money in savings accounts to receive interest.

Now try and use this approach on the scarce resource “time”:

Dealings with money Dealings with time
Consider what you buy Consider what you do
Don’t buy something Don’t do something
Buy less Do less
Prioritize expenditures Prioritize tasks
Save money Save time
Buy something cheaper Do something quicker
Invest money in a savings account Invest time in time management
Know what you can’t buy Know what you can’t do