On Leading Yourself: Mastering Your Time

Leading Oneself

One of the biggest killers of time these days is the stream of e-mails that continue to bombard our inbox.

Some of this avalanche of information is important, some interesting, but most is simply a lot of junk.

Many people see e-mails as so important that they need to reply the second they pop into our inbox, I know as I often find myself doing this.

This action is often to the detriment of other more important tasks in our daily routines.

A Better Way to Lead Oneself

I would like to suggest a tool that can make your day considerably more productive.

I was introduced to this concept a few years ago and have found it to be one of the most effective time management tools around. This tool breaks your day into ‘mini-days’.

It will take some dedication and some initial preparation but I can guarantee you that it will help you get control of your day and become more productive.

Step 1: Mini-Day Preparation

Over the next three days take a note of everything you do, each and every individual task and how long it took. Don’t group tasks at this stage but ensure you note down everything. For example

Day 1

  • Phoned Joe for to set up sales meeting – 5 minutes

  • E-mailed Mary to respond to accounts query – 5 minutes

  • Meeting with xyz company to present new product range – 2 hours

  • Lunch – 20 minutes

  • Prepared sales report for management – 1 hour

  • Etc…

Day 2

  • Phoned XYZ company to follow-up on sales meeting – 20 minutes

  • E-mailed Henry product information – 5 minutes

  • Etc, etc…

Day 3

  • Phoned XYZ company to follow-up on sales meeting – 20 minutes

  • E-mailed Sarah product information – 5 minutes

  • Training on new product – 1 hour

  • Etc, etc, etc…

Do this for a minimum of three days. This task alone will surprise you as how much time you are spending on non-productive tasks.

Step 2: Grouping

  • Look through your list and group the individual tasks into categories i.e. e-mails, phone calls, business development, meetings, financial, personal time, etc. The categories will be different for different people but try to break it into at least five broad categories.

  • Tally up the time you spent on each category.

  • Order your categories into the most appropriate times each day to undertake that task. For example you may like to make all your phone calls first thing in the morning and have meetings in the afternoon. This may vary on different days of your week, dependant on the influences.

Allocate a defined time period for each category, for each day.

  • E-mails – 1 hour

  • Phone calls – 1 hour

  • Business Development – 2 hours

  • Meetings – 2 hours

  • Planning  / Operations – 2 hours

Step 3:  Define your Mini-Days

8:00 – 9:00AM – Emails

9:00 – 10:00AM – Phone calls

10:00 – 12:00PM – Business Development

12:00 – 1:00PM – Lunch

1:00 – 3:00PM – Meetings

3:00 – 5:00PM – Planning / Operations


  1. It is important to stick to the mini-day allocation, once the time for the next mini-day has arrived, finish what you are doing and move to the next mini-day. Don’t be tempted to knock over another couple of e-mails or make another couple of phone calls. Any tasks not completed in each mini-day, leave to the following next time you have scheduled that activity.

    It is rare that the e-mail can’t wait 24 hours or the phone call has to be made today.

  1. If you work in an office environment, inform your colleagues, managers, assistants of your mini-day plan so they do not schedule meetings out of time. It may take getting used to but you will find that everyone will become more efficient if they know your schedule.

Step 4:  Stick to It, But Be Open to Change

The biggest piece of advice I can give is to stick to the schedule you have.

That does not mean you should not re-evaluate after using it for a few weeks as you might find that as you become more efficient with your time you can reduce some of the mini-days and allocate that time to other mini-days or add a new category.

Good luck with setting up your mini day.


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Dean Howell is Owner and Founder at Imagine Dream Believe

He serves clients with Business & Personal Development, Leadership, and Recruiting
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter |  Web 

Image Sources: nurizzatiabdulaziz.blogspot.com


One response to “On Leading Yourself: Mastering Your Time

  1. Pingback: On Leading Yourself: Mastering Your Time » Preben Ormen·

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