Time Management: A Life-Long Process

No need for perfection, especially at the beginning

Dean Arthur Rubenstein, M.B.B.Ch., and Asst. Prof. Jonine Bernstein, Ph.D.

Taking Control of Your Calendar

  1. What do you want to achieve? Set long/short term goals
  2. Analyze how much time you spend per day/week on certain activities — keep a log
  3. Set priorities for your tasks/activities by placing them in the following grid — include all areas of your life (work, family, health, personal/spiritual)
    IMPORTANT Do First!  Schedule and commit to these as they are the least likely to get done.
    NOT IMPORTANT  Most Tasks - Figure out how to avoid or delegate  Toss, ignore, delegate, or say "NO"
  4. Figure out what tasks you must do to accomplish your goals
    • Organize your tasks to fit into your schedule — start with weekly planning
    • Break large projects into small tasks
  5. Find a good mentor

A Collection of Management Tips from highly efficient people, inside and outside MSSM

On Setting Goals/Priorities

  • Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize
  • Start with whatever makes you most anxious
  • Be realistic — Don't over- or underestimate your ability
  • Don't procrastinate — finish up loose ends. Never let problems linger
  • Each day, make a list (mental or written) of 2 or 3 things that you absolutely must accomplish that day

On Setting Limits

  • Any meeting that lasts more than an hour is unlikely to produce any results after the first 60 minutes
  • Being perfect should not be a goal — you are caught up only when you quit, retire, or are dead
  • Be willing to say NO

On the Best Times to Work/ On Scheduling

  • Block out sacrosanct day(s) for writing, reading, and thinking — NO exceptions
  • Respect you own, idiosyncratic body clock — schedule certain tasks for times in the day when you are most productive
  • Schedule writing at home. Work when the office is closed
  • Leave town and don't pick up messages
  • Get enough regular exercise, rest and play
  • Plan your week ahead of time

On Email/Phone Calls

  • Deal with phone calls, email and mail only twice a day
  • Spend at least 15-30 minutes on an important task before you check your email

On Delegating

  • Make sure that you have complete trust in the people who supply you with information and who speak in your name
  • Once you have delegated a piece of work, don't take it back, no matter how frustrated you are

On Making Lists

  • Create specialized sets of lists — to do today, active projects to work on continuously, clinical questions to pursue, and personal ideas. A single to-do list is inefficient
  • Prioritize your "to do" list
  • Unanticipated, immediate concerns -- sometimes a quick response might be better than no response at all
  • Clean up 2nd order priorities — get a small feeling of accomplishment

Nuts and Bolts Techniques

  • Do one thing at a time, complete short tasks, when you feel overwhelmed
  • Maintain an uncluttered, organized workspace
  • If you have multiple projects, use color coded file folders — saves time trying to find things
  • Dictate thoughts immediately after a meeting, don't wait until the next day

Further References



*The final version of the experts' presentations have been edited by Sandra K. Masur, Ph.D.(WFG President), Miki Rifkin, Ph.D.(WFG Vice President) often from notes of Kathryn Kaplan, Ph.D.,MSSM Consultant, Organizational Development.

Back to Time Management