Some changes to how I’m managing my time

by Jeff Hilimire on May 29, 2014

I’m starting to become slightly obsessed with how I manage my time. I have to be as I’m pulled in a lot of directions and if I’m not careful, I’ll end up spending too much time on the less important critical things and not enough time on the things that are the most important to me: family, friends, Dragon Army, and “Doing Good”.

With those four areas of focus as the driving force, I’m tightening down on how much of my time goes elsewhere. Areas of my life that will be affected the most:

Calendar. I have a color coding system with my calendar to help me see where I’m spending my time. I’m going to share this in a blog post soon, but essentially this helps me make sure I’m spending my time in the right places. When I see too many things that aren’t essential on my calendar, I start to cut back.

Blogging. I’ve been on fairly solid 6-7 posts a week for a while now. I’m going to take that back down to 3-4 posts a week. I love blogging and it helps me personally and professionally, but slowing the cadence down will help with my time challenges.

Meeting with people that don’t check one of those four boxes. I get a lot of requests to talk to people. About their startups, innovation in general, advice, etc. And I love doing that. I enjoy meeting new people and hearing what they’re up to. But I created Advice For Good in order to help make sure that if I’m going to spend time with someone then I’d like them to do some good in the process. And that’s working, but I’m also going to limit the # of times I have these meetings to three times a week (and I’m going to have those be a certain color on my calendar to keep myself in check).

Email. I’m getting better about pushing non-essential email to a period where I can sit and crank out responses for a few hours. I currently use a combination of Boomerang and Mailbox to help get emails out of my inbox and have them return at a later date. The trick is weeding through emails to find the ones you need to respond to quickly and the ones that you can wait on. I get somewhere between 100-200 emails a day in my Priority Inbox on Gmail (everything else goes into Archive and I never see them), which means 95% of those are important enough to read. So, yeah, that’s a lot.

What’s your process for time management?

  • Drew Hawkins

    Most of my time management challenges are morning related. Recently I cut my morning coffee meetups to just one per week. I had a month where I had a morning meeting with someone several times a week. I loved hanging out with folks but it threw me out of my exercise/reading routine for a while.

    Looking forward to learning more about your calendar system. That’s something I’m still trying to figure out myself.

  • Jeff Hilimire

    Cutting down morning coffees is a great idea. It’s just so hard to say no :)

    Btw, if I keep seeing you at the Village for meetings and we don’t get coffee while you’re here, I’m going to lose my mind.

  • Drew Hawkins

    Often times I stop in there to work in Octane for a bit to get a change of scenery. I’m around the corner – I’ll let you know next time I’m going to be there. Coffee would be good!

  • Dave Williams

    I found that when in early startup mode that I had to cut out everything that was non essential and as things got crazy that unfortunately meant almost everything. Family, friends, non essential networking, etc. when it is do or die, something had to give. Obviously, when things are going well and the business is in cruise control then you can change gears. I am a big proponent of solid away vacation time with no internet or cell access, and trying to keep health in the mix, although this tends to suffer too. I didn’t see this in your mix. At the end of the day, the end goal is a balanced life but sometimes that is impossible when in an early stage startup. The best thing I learned was to just say no.

  • Jeff Hilimire

    Solid advice as always, DW. The solid away vacation with no internet or cell access is not something I’ve built into my routine. Is that something you learned later in life or did you always have that as a priority?

  • Dave Williams

    I have been doing since 2005 but really took this to heart post 360i having biked through Vietnam, hiked Kilimanjaro, trekked the Tour du Mont Blanc, kayaked and trekked the Fjords of Norway, rafted in Chile, multi-sport in the Galapagos, scuba on the Great Barrier Reef, heli boarded in Whistler, and other such things! It is the challenge, adventure and separation from the day to day that ignites creativity, passion for the business, and keeps you healthy and ready for any battle! REI Adventures has some amazing trips to check out, or a company called Southern Explorations for South America!

  • Adam Wexler

    I love my routine, and it’s unfortunately compromised far too much by my travel schedule of late. When I can stick to it though, I avoid morning coffees as the AM is me-time, but I try to always have a productive lunch planned. When it comes to other windows for outside meetings, I’ll open up a 6p slot first so I can have a productive afternoon, and a post-lunch meeting would be next available if necessary. Have to block out time in the afternoons for internal meetings or blocks of personal productivity, otherwise late-night work sessions pop up a little more than I would like.

    In general, I love this weekly routine layout from Michael Hyatt, and I look forward to thoroughly implementing something similar soon enough:

  • Vlad Gorenshteyn

    I was just talking to a friend this evening about how “off the grid” is nearly impossible. I made a statement that being connected 24/7/365 is a lot of “momentum” and to expect to go cold turkey is not realistic. So, the conclusion was to wean off a few weeks prior and reintegrate at the same pace.

    As far as doing away with family…I’m not sure I’d be able to that as I’m not wired that way but something I struggled with in the past, but somehow all that pain forced me to “say no” and it’s much better these days.

  • Vlad Gorenshteyn

    Aside from the obvious benefits, I discovered incredible utility in marriage.

    Wife. Enlist your significant other to help contribute in separating wheat from chaff so you can more easily decide on what is important and what is not. The fact that my wife has photographic recall and keeps our family calendar, my gigging schedule, and red-hot dates at work, allows me to focus on thinking strategically and not get caught up in the administrative weeds that is scheduling. Side benefit, your partner gets a say so in your life, which makes for a better partnership.

  • Jeff Hilimire

    I’m going to assume that you meant “going away with family” vs. “doing away with family”, otherwise I’ll need to alert the authorities ;)

  • Vlad Gorenshteyn


    What I was actually referring to was DW’s comment about “cut out everything that was non essential”…in other words I don’t place family on the essential vs. non-essential scale. Businesses and opportunity come and go and I can always make more money but I cannot hire a new family and close friends. But success and wealth is defined differently. Personally, those two things are one of the “means” to an end I envision for myself.

    To be clear: I do not want to discount DW’s wild success. Much respect to DW and his contemporaries for the fearless dedication they placed into their companies.

  • Dave Williams

    It is very easy to get off the grid, but you need to go to places and do things that allow for this. Anyone that says you “can’t” do something or that is not willing to make sacrifices will be challenged as an vet represent as can’t is not part of an entrepreneur’s vocabulary and only leads to mefiocrity and/or failure. It’s a bad way to think and won’t result in positive outcomes.

  • Dave Williams

    I would reend a solid advisory team versus relying on your wife too much because when and if the shot hits the fan you will need professional guidance from pros that have been there done that, and the stress of a downturn in the business, economic issues, customer attrition, potential financial ruin many times is best left to getting advice from the pros. Partners can be great to share with but are not always the best to give advice and could damper the relationship long term. My advice would be to get at least 2-3 experiemves advisors to add to your advisory mix.

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