From Time Management to Time Intelligence - Zach Davis - ebook

From Time Management to Time Intelligence ebook

Zach Davis



The world has changed. It is more complex and much faster-paced than it used to be. New communication technologies have changed the business world entirely, and the demands have risen considerably. Unfortunately, most time management approaches have not grown proportionally. Exactly that is what this book sets out to change: we are talking real improvements with a focus on goals and productivity, without loosing sight of factors such as stress and satisfaction. In addition to useful strategies you will receive 40 concrete tips on how to save time, covering (among others) topics such as dealing with interruptions, retaining sovereignty over your own time, and stress reduction.

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Zach DaviswithJuliana Kushner

Time Intelligence

From Time Managementto Time Intelligence

Peoplebuilding Publishing

Zach Davis

1. Edition


Time Intelligence: From Time Management to Time Intelligence



First Edition:

Peoplebuilding, Geretsried, Germany (2014)

All rights reserved. Printed in Germany. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the written permission of the publisher.

Cover pictures:

Peoplebuilding, Geretsried, Germany

Cover design:

Berkan Sezer& Tobias Wieditz, Munich, Germany


CPI Books, Ulm, Germany


Isabell Baur

© 2014 Peoplebuilding Publishing, Geretsried, Germany

Table of Contents


The Best Rescuer in the World

The Reality Regarding Time Management

What’s the Perfect Solution?

Introductions: Zach Davis and Juliana Kushner

Learning from the Best

Some Key Terms

The Time Target

Goals? Good Results and Less Stress!

Your Roles in Life

The Wheel of Life Management

Tip 1: Commitment Management

Tip 2: Master of Procrastination

Tip 3: Creating Transparency

Tip 4: Retaining the Rights to Your Time

Tip 5: Rocks and Time Management

Tip 6: Birds of a Feather

Tip 7: Multitasking!?

Tip 8: The 4-D Formula to Avoid Leaving Fingerprints

Tip 9: The Always-and-Everywhere Disease

Tip 10: The “TBM” Method

Eight Principles of Highly Effective People

Tip 11: Two Clocks – Double Your Time?!

Tip 12: Clever Travel

Tip 13: The Good-Enough Point

Tip 14: Read and Have Read

Tip 15: Ensure Replaceability

Tip 16: Telephones as Tools for Efficiency

Tip 17: Best Organization for Filing and Inbox

Tip 18: The Master of Computers

Tip 19: The Most Important Word in Time Intelligence

Tip 20: Completely Scrap the Unnecessary

Finding Solutions When There Are No Solutions

Tip 21: Train Your Environment

Tip 22: The Story of the Woodcutter

Tip 23: The Optimal Meeting Point

Tip 24: Anticipation – Seeing the Future

Tip 25: The “How-does-it-work” Folder

Tip 26: Watch Out! Meeting-itis is Going Around

Tip 27: The Gas Principle

Tip 28: Know Your Own Hourly Value

Tip 29: The VIP List

Tip 30: Punctuality as the Rule, not the Exception

The Time Usage Pie

Tip 31: The Anticyclical Approach

Tip 32: Junk Mail & Co.

Tip 33: The Wise Use of Checklists

Tip 34: Email Processing

Tip 35: A Place for Everything

Tip 36: Create Backups and Find Alternatives

Tip 37: Keep Your Clutter, but Put It Behind You

Tip 38: The 75% Rule

Tip 39: Preliminary Information

Tip 40: Keep the Overview with an Action Item List

The ORAL Method

The Hummingbird Story

Professional Acknowledgment

Personal Thanks


Zach Davis

Trainer, Speaker, and Author

PoweReading: Double Your Reading Speed. Guaranteed!

This Book as a Special Edition from Your Company

Closing Remarks


A Modern Concept for Real Time Intelligence

For many people, the idea of achieving exactly what they want, in less time and without stress, and not only three days a week but continuously, is a pipe dream. Things can look very different in reality. Life is busy and chaotic, and often we only have time to get the things under control that are absolutely necessary. In such situations, work often stops being fun, and we end up sacrificing the quality of the work we produce. This problem affects so many people that Zach Davis was motivated to make an extensive study of the topic of time mastery. Thousands of participants in Zach Davis’s time intelligence events have shared their experiences in this area, and these stories feed into the recommendations and analyses in this book.

Ineffective time management can cause disruptions in every aspect of life. It can affect our whole personality and the impressions we make on others, and over time it can become a burden at work as well as in one’s private life. Each and every step toward escaping this rat race can have a positive impact on your life, and even a small impetus for change can work wonders.

The dream does not need to remain an impossible one. Zach Davis and his young colleague Juliana Kushner will show you a new and direct path to autonomous time management, knowing full well that the old methods of classical time management have lost some of their luster. This book provides a long-overdue update on the topic, along with intriguing and astoundingly effective strategies. Whereas previously we often found ourselves rushing from one task to the next, trying to put out one fire after another, we will now see potential, new solutions. Here’s how I like to describe one of the problems with regard to time mastery:

None of us has time to organize our papers and our desks, but we all have time to go searching for what we’re looking for.

This is also the starting point for Zach Davis. We learn how much more effective it is to improve the process itself rather than simply continue struggling within the process. This way we can develop foresight and effective strategies, so that we prevent the fires before they even start.

After all, most people whose time management is in a state of disarray know that many tasks would be accomplished more easily if they were approached in a methodical and structured fashion. While there is rarely a dearth of solutions, the actual execution is often lacking. The result is a state of dissatisfaction that can last weeks, months, or even years. In the meantime, people carry out important tasks in an uncoordinated or negligent fashion; this situation, in turn, means that more and more time needs to be spent on correcting the mistakes and omissions left over from yesterday. Plans and intentions that are important for the individual are totally neglected, although exactly these steps are necessary to implement the change that is long overdue.

That is why this topic is so important today. When professional success or private life fall by the wayside, there will necessarily be dissatisfaction – which means that stress and lack of motivation will further exacerbate the situation. After all, time mastery means far more than simply keeping your appointments. Davis and Kushner go right to the root of the matter and in the process debunk many myths that are contained in classical theories of time management. They have managed to create a novel and (literally) timely concept that does not theorize in an abstract way, but rather presents concrete suggestions for how each and every one of us can deal with the factor of time in our lives.

As you begin reading this work, you will probably recognize yourself in many descriptions and start to realize after only a few pages that there is a way to escape from the misery. Many of us feel we are in the midst of a labyrinth made up of stress, time pressure, and last-minute compensations. With a good dose of humor and an intelligent concept, the authors show their readers a path leading out of the labyrinth. If you want to do more than halfway master the absolutely necessary, I can only congratulate you on your choice of reading matter.


Stéphane Etrillard

Best-selling author, speaker, and executive

The Best Rescuer in the World

Imagine a river with a raging current. Time and again, people need to be rescued from drowning in this river. Savior Sam always comes to the rescue – he is quick, efficient, and reliable. Often he rescues the victims only at the last minute, but somehow he always manages, although actually there are far too many people to save for just one hero. Day in, day out, through sheer dedication he succeeds every time. Unfortunately, though, he never has the time to go investigate who is pushing all these people into the water half a mile up the river because he is too busy rescuing them.

Does this little introductory story bear any resemblance to your everyday life?

The Reality Regarding Time Management

“In the meanwhile, I work only half-days – just 40 hours a week.”

Does this sound familiar? At the end of a workday you take stock and realize that you were active the entire day and managed to complete a lot – just not any of the things you had intended to get done.

How would you answer the following questions for yourself?

• Do you have the feeling that you react more than you act?

• Do you feel torn between, on the one hand, urgent tasks and, on the other hand, more long-term matters that also need your attention?

• Do you somehow manage to meet your deadlines after all, although you pay the price in terms of many hours of overtime or extreme stress?

If your answer to even one of the above questions was yes, then we have a few exciting topics for the time we will be spending together throughout this book. The aspects described above are the most common ones that come up at the beginning of events on the topic of time intelligence. Many people are convinced that the situation is particularly extreme in their specific environment, which is completely understandable from a subjective standpoint. Interestingly, though, this belief is widely held, regardless of a person’s exact occupation or position. Be it staff or management, be it in the area of banks, business consulting firms, hotels, software developers, government agencies, or the wood-processing industry – it turns out many people are waiting for things to “calm down” again soon.

The bad news is that things are not going to calm down. The world is turning faster and faster. The knowledge available to humanity doubles every five years or so. Modern communication media have changed the world radically and will continue to do so, with ever increasing strength and speed. Do you remember how cell phones and email were originally extolled as devices for saving time? As useful as these technical options can often be, most people, paradoxically, now feel that they have less time, rather than more. How does it seem to you? Do you have the freedom you wish for, the freedom that comes from being in control of your own time?

What’s the Perfect Solution?

Can we offer you the perfect solution? Not really, because each person’s needs are somewhat different and the world is very complex. We have, however, summarized the best strategies, those that have brought improvement for literally thousands of people, based on experience with training and coaching the most diverse range of people – from entry-level employees to managers, as well as world-class experts in their field. Our concepts, principles, and tips will allow you to incorporate your own personal style and to prioritize and pick out the things that are the most appropriate for you personally.

You want to manage more in less time? Who doesn’t want that! Most people, at some point during their lives, deal with the topics of personal effectiveness, time management, setting goals, and saving time. Two reasons typically play a role here. One trigger may be that people notice that the tasks and demands are continuously on the increase, and they wonder, “How on earth can I manage all of this?” It happens often that a department has ten employees, and then one retires and another transfers to a new job. Since these two are not replaced, the department is left with eight employees for the work of ten. If you are familiar with such a situation you are not an exception.

The second reason for people to concern themselves with questions of effectiveness and time management is that they notice, “Somehow I seem to manage everything somehow, but the stress level keeps rising.” One result of this can be the habit of taking more and more of our work home with us – both physically and psychologically. We take some work home with us for the weekend – just to cart it back to work on Monday morning, along with our guilty conscience. Once again, we didn’t manage to finish everything that was expected of us.

Maybe you also know the feeling of being excited when 5 PM rolls around – not because your workday is over, but rather because now you can finally concentrate on the really important tasks without having other people bothering you. The provocative question we would like to ask at this point is this: What exactly were you doing up until 5 PM? Everyone has a day full of emergencies now and then; but if it wasn’t such a day, then most likely your usage of time and your regulation of your own accessibility offer room for improvement.

Introductions: Zach Davis and Juliana Kushner

Before we delve into the topic more deeply, we’d like to introduce ourselves.

Zach Davis was born in Philadelphia, U.S.A. He grew up and went to school in Germany. After studying business administration at the University of Cologne, he worked for KPMG Consulting AG in Munich in the area of human resources consulting. In 2003, Zach founded the Peoplebuilding training institute, also in Munich. These days he is often on the road as trainer, speaker, author, and coach in the field of personal effectiveness. Zach has specialized not only in time management but also in speed reading techniques.

Juliana Kushner was born in Cologne, Germany, and attended school in both Germany and Switzerland. She majored in East Asian Studies at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, U.S.A. Juliana has learned a great deal about personal effectiveness through juggling her studies with her many hobbies and activities (music, languages, travel, networking).

Both of us know the feeling, as you do, of being torn in multiple directions, between job-related demands on the one hand and private life on the other. Running a business that has ambitious goals and requires significant time for travel, for example, shouldn’t crowd out being an important and present part of one’s family and circle of friends. If you have children, you surely want to experience how they grow and change. And there are many other areas of life to be considered, such as your own health, in which the activities are very difficult to delegate to others.

For Zach, health is a very important topic. Important activities for him include doing regular sports and eating a healthy diet, something many people perceive to be a sacrifice. They could not be more mistaken. It would be much more sacrificial not to do these things. The reason is simple: if Zach didn’t take care of himself this way, he would not have the energy necessary to handle his work load, or he would collapse on the couch at the end of the week! A fairly typical week for Zach includes three days of seminars and two presentations in various locations, writing an article or chapter for a book, doing a media interview, speaking with his employees and customers, checking contents of some form, preparing a proposal for a potential business cooperation, and more.

Your workweek certainly has its own distribution of activities. Our point here, though, is that most of us bear multiple responsibilities. Nevertheless, it is possible to remain relatively relaxed and find your work to be fun most of the time. Zach has been quoted as saying that he usually “only” works around 45 hours a week.

In working with thousands of people over the years, we have observed many patterns and commonalities:

• in people who are both successful (an individual definition, of course) and very stressed

• in people who are successful and hardly stressed (what an exciting combination!)

• in people who are not successful and hardly stressed

• and in people who are not successful and very stressed (quite a tragic combination)

On the one hand, there are people who are successful and content. They experience fulfillment because they have managed to reconcile, among other things, private life and work. On the other hand, there are people with seemingly the same preconditions who have a much harder time. This latter group often includes people who feel they are caught up in the proverbial rat race.

To the external observer, some people appear to be very successful although they in fact are inwardly dissatisfied. Such situations are often a result of neglecting individual aspects of their lives, with the classics in this realm being health, free time, and family life. Let’s look together at these patterns and commonalities among people, asking what is significant and looking for solutions. The strategies presented in this book have been tried and tested – without neglecting individual differences and the variety of situations in which people find themselves.

Learning from the Best

It can be inspiring and motivating to see what others have achieved and made of their lives, especially in areas that mean something to us personally. Some people inspire us because they live the type of life we would love to have, others due to their extraordinary expertise. Still others inspire us through having experienced hardships we can hardly imagine, and yet radiating happiness and well-being. Here are three such people.

Brian Tracy is a very successful American speaker and author in economics, business, and self-development. He usually writes and publishes multiple books a year, most of which become bestsellers. He has around 100 training and speaking engagements a year and is always working on countless other projects in parallel, and yet he takes more than 100 days off per year. What an excellent example of effectiveness as it can actually be lived! He has achieved far above average results at work and at the same time has a healthy amount of free time – now that’s real effectiveness.

Meet Anne Jones from the U.K., who won the World Championship Speed Reading Competition six years in a row. Yes, there really is such a thing – a competition in which a bunch of people get together and have their reading speed and text comprehension measured. Reading speed is measured in words per minute, while the level of comprehension is measured by having the candidate answer questions about the text. The percentage of questions that are correctly answered is multiplied with the number of words read per minute to produce a score, and the candidate with the highest score is the speed reading winner. At a public performance, Anne Jones read one of the roughly 800-page volumes of Harry Potter in 47 minutes and answered more than 70% of the subsequent comprehension questions correctly.

Are people like Brian Tracy and Anne Jones simply lucky to have been born with their talent? Is genetics the most important factor here? Or are there also patterns, reasons, and behaviors that lead to extraordinary results in various larger or smaller aspects of life? We are of the opinion that the law of cause and effect is active in many areas of human development. Where there is an effect (for example, being able to read quickly with good comprehension), there is most often at least one identifiable cause that has led to that effect.

The biography of a gentleman named W. Mitchell is extraordinary in a different way. Due to a motorcycle accident that he only barely survived, W. Mitchell suffered extreme burns over more than 80% of his skin. He survived, amazingly, and somehow managed to put himself together again, both physically and psychologically. After spending months in rehabilitation, he was able to start a new career and managed to become mayor of a small city (despite his rather unusual appearance).

Four years after Mitchell’s motorcycle accident, the small plane that he was piloting had an accident during takeoff. Although all the passengers were able to leave the plane with only minor injuries, Mitchell was injured so badly that he has been paralyzed since that time. Most people would have given up on life after this second blow of fate – if in fact they had not done so earlier. Not Mitchell! For quite a few years now he has been on stage and has become an internationally sought-after speaker on the topic of taking responsibility. Despite the lasting effects of his injuries, which present him with challenges most people can’t begin to imagine, he manages his life well and is a role model for thousands of people.

We can also learn a lot from the people around us who have less spectacular stories, people who lead normal lives and have totally normal everyday problems. Such people might be children who don’t want to sleep when their parents really would like them to or colleagues with different work goals. Since there are similarities among most of us, we can find solutions to our problems by observing those who have had similar problems and challenges before.

Following the principle of observing and learning from others, we will explore together the thought patterns of highly effective people, so that you can continue to see the forest despite all the trees in situations where you need to plan and make decisions in the heat of the moment. This will help you keep the overview and with it your time intelligence and time mastery.

You will be able to profit from this technique of observation over the course of this book and learn from the ideas we’ve culled from the very best in many different areas. We find it useful to remember the words of the great English scientist Isaac Newton: “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

We would also like to draw your attention to the collection of individual tips (40, to be precise) included in this book, which are aimed at helping you to save time here and there in various life situations. These tips are primarily professionally oriented, though some of them concern private life too.