Do This, Not That.


My best friend has recommended the book Eat This, Not That! to me several times.  Have I read it?  No.  But, I like the concept:  there are certain foods you should avoid and replace with healthier options.  Tell that to my son.  And my husband.  And me.  Anyway…


So, in lieu of reading a great book on improving my diet, I choose to write about productivity.  Denial is not just a river in Egypt.


Why is time management so important?


You know this, but I have to restate it from time to time:  without good time management skills, you will just give more and more hours to your job.  Those hours are deducted from your personal life.  Excess stress and work/life imbalance are often the result.


My personal epiphany about the need for time management came at the age of 29.  I was on an airplane and looked at my Franklin Planner.  The brutal realization was that my family was hardly visible in how I was allocating my time.


Have you had your time management wake-up call yet?  Read on, friend.


Do This:


  • Do the right things in the first place. Evaluate your activities.  Are they consistent with your personal values, life aspirations, and career goals?  Busywork is one of the biggest time drains there is.
  • Allocate time for planning. In our action-oriented culture, too little time is spent thinking through the steps to get from point A to point B and the possible roadblocks that can occur.  Being proactive doesn’t happen by accident.
  • Allocate time for self-development. Do you have a stack of articles that you haven’t read?  Is there a webinar that you want to take?  Hone your skills so that you will be the best you can be.



Not That:


  • Spend 6+ hours a day, every day, in meetings. Change your default meeting length.  Do you give everybody an hour of your time whenever they request a meeting?  Change that to 30 minutes or less.  Decline to attend meetings where you are not needed.
  • Drive all over town. Evaluate the feasibility of working from home.  Participate in meetings (even with people in the same city as you) via videoconference.  Can this be done at least some of the time?  Set up carpools for kid shuttling.
  • Allow your time to be sucked away by email. If your email inbox is your to-do list, then it is inevitable that you will spend excess time there.  Pre-determine how many times per day you will process email.  Put those appointments on your calendar.  Set a timer.  Get in and get out.  Use a to-do list to manage your action items.


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Dr. Melissa GratiasMelissa Gratias (pronounced “Gracious”) used to think that productivity was a result of working long hours. And, she worked a lot of hours. Then, she learned that productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Now, Melissa is a productivity expert who coaches and trains other businesspeople to be more focused, balanced, and effective. She is a prolific writer and speaker who travels the world helping people change how they work and improve how they live. Contact her at or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.


  1. Janet Barclay

    This is such great advice! I took a financial course where they taught that to improve profits, it’s better to reduce expenses than raise prices, and that’s proven itself to be true.

    But the same applies to time! If you want more free time, you can either work even harder to get more done in less time, or you can eliminate low-value tasks and activities.

  2. Hazel Thornton

    Isn’t it funny where we get our inspiration for blog posts? When I was working with clients I always told them that organizing might start with too much stuff and not enough containers, but it always comes down to time management. And your tips are good ones!


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