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When your time management is not enough

To Do List Question


During a recap of the previous week’s action plan with a client of mine, a new problem surfaced which he had not associated with the original need to get a grip with his time mismanagement.  A hardworking individual who managed to fit in a lot during the course of the day, but still wondered where his day went, there was utter chaos and our common goal was to bring order back into his day so that he had a chance to step back and look at the big picture.


A whole session of brainstorming with 22 action points was produced. The client was given the option to implement any 3 of them based on his own priorities and what he thought he could achieve.  One of the actions he chose was the To Do List.

A week later, he was able to confirm that the days when he prepared his To Do list were much better and more productive for him. He was directed to celebrate and give himself a pat on the back. But by Friday of the week, he had slipped from the wagon and had not prepared the list since his Thursday had been a day from hell.


Why, if he had the To Do list, did the day become so bad?

There were many reasons, which included putting in too many things for action. But more importantly, there were tasks that had to be urgently completed and the employee responsible for preparing it had not done it with the excuse that he had other things to do compelling him to go into a fire fighting mode at 6 pm since the documents had to be submitted to a statutory authority.

This brings me to the point for this week on two new aspects of efficient time management:

The number of tasks on a To Do list should never be more than 8 or 10 unless the tasks can be completed quickly. More than 12 in a day is a sure way to fail and the associated feelings are not worth it.

Where a particular task requires inputs from others, make sure that the other person knows the necessity of his input to get the task done. What may be an urgent and important task for you may be an urgent but not important task for the other person who will find ways to be busy with less important tasks which are worth doing but which are low on the priority list for you. This is the combination of the arts of delegation and assertive behavior.

In other words, the strategy for time management where your success depends upon others requires that they be made aware of their responsibility to get the job done.  Be more specific, give timelines and THEN follow up at the specific appointed time. Do not sit down to do the task yourself but insist that it be done. Your subordinate or colleague or even family member may slip up a couple of times but the message that you are being firm and assertive will get through.

Assertiveness is a key ingredient in this type of time management.  Instead of doing the task, you have a talk with the other person. Do not ask why the task was not done, which would put the other party on the defensive.  Excuses such as ‘I was busy doing other things’ or ‘Sorry, I made a mistake’ will only provoke you into further frustration and reaction which you might not like when the dust has settled.

Instead, say ‘This document/report/letter had to have gone out by the end of today, what exactly stopped you from completing the task?

The answer could be anything from their not realizing the importance or even that someone else had delegated a task to them with a clearer sense of urgency.  Worse still, they might know that if they delay it long enough, they won’t have to do it since you will get around to it.

In the meantime, reassess your method of delegation. Give clear and concise instructions, set deadlines and having been assertive, stick to your guns no matter what the provocation. More importantly, the message that you are sending out will be clear.

I’ve shown you what you need to do. If you want to ace this by finding out how to do it, click here to learn more about my Time Management coaching service.


Written By: Vatsala Shukla

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2 Responses to “When your time management is not enough”

  1. I was a full-time working mom with 2 kids and an entreprenaurial husband. My calendars were color coded and there were always extra activities sych as plays, tennis lessons & matches, rehearsals along with my own evening interests and volunteer work. The only way it all got done was my managing with a reasonable to do list. To this day, every task ^& call gets written down & I see where in the week it fits best.
    I feel for those who are not naturally organized & thank goodness they have you.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Thank you for the compliment Roslyn, you’ve made my day! I follow a similar system with a rolling To Do List for the week where I put in the dates by which particular tasks need to be done before they become ‘headless chicken’ time tasks. I also make sure that I am proactive in completing those parts of tasks which require other people’s inputs and then pass it on to them while I focus on tasks on my list that I alone can do. Sometimes I’m teased at home for acting like an Army Officer but the truth is, when I run a tight ship, I get more time for creative pursuits and family. Thanks for sharing your method, Roslyn, I know a lot of readers will find it beneficial.

Meet your coach

I work with driven, passionate, talented and ambitious professionals who've hit a speed breaker in their business or career create their desired breakthrough reclaiming control of their situation with customized strategies and tactics that work.

Using a combination of intuition and analytical skills, I help my clients identify their real issues with exercises to still their mind and allow their inner feeling to emerge in a place of confidentiality and trust. 

When my clients first come to me, they are not in a very happy place and need clarity about themselves and their chosen vocation. Their professional problems are playing havoc with other areas of their life. They know they need to take radical steps to change the status quo but they also know that they need support and accountability to get them their desired result.


I really get it, because at one point, I also experienced getting lost in my work rationalizing decisions that were detrimental to the other aspects of my life. I’ve struggled with and won battles of stress management, life balance and career decisions to emerge in a place where I can confidently say that I live my desired life according to my personal Manifesto and have created a business that provides me with a platform for my desired lifestyle and self-expression for myself. I want that for you too!

I adhere to the Certified Coaches Alliance Code of Ethics and Standards. A copy is available on request.
1st place BCB 2012
Email: Vatsala(at)karmicallycoaching(dot)com Phone:91 9818517664
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