I cover time management with clients often. So, I was intrigued to discuss an innovative approach with my client, Morgan, recently.

Morgan is about to take up a new role [1]. He knows this role is going to be busy and have high demands on his time. Previous incumbents have worked long hours and complained of poor worklife balance.

Morgan’s approach before he has even taken up the role is to program after-hour activities and make commitments to friends and family. Here’s a sample of his approach:

  • Once a week, Morgan commits to attending the driving range to practice his golf.
  • He has committed with a group of friends to attend a trivia night each Wednesday at the local pub.
  • Each Thursday, Morgan will go to dinner with his local alumni.
  • Every Friday, Morgan has committed to leaving work in time to make it home in time for a family event [2].

According to Morgan, this leaves him one night a week where he can work back late if he needs to.

What Morgan has done is put constraints on his working hours before his workload has a chance to get control of him. He has also made commitments to people which will assist in holding him accountable. This is a process I call ‘black-boxing’. He has created a black box inside of which he will get his work done. Outside of the black box, he will focus on his family and social commitments.

There is no doubt Morgan will need to be creative inside his black box to get his work done. The role is high-tempo. There may be times when he has to work outside of his black box. Making conscious decisions and monitoring time ‘creep’ in these situations will be critical to ensure he doesn’t make a habit of poor time management practices.

I am confident, however, that Morgan can do this. After all, he has his coach to support him and family and friends to assist him.

[1] My long-standing readers may have noticed that Morgan has multiple personas. He, or she, is an amalgam of many people with whom I work.

[2] For context, Morgan’s new role will have him working in a city approximately two hour’s drive from home. He will spend the week in that city and travel home on weekends.