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December 17, 2020 4 mins

Schedule time to think about important things

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:05):
Good morning. This is Laura. Welcome to the New Corner Office,
the podcast where we share strategies for thriving in the
new world of work, where location and ours are more
flexible than in the past. Today's tip is to schedule
pro active time or pro time for short. This is

time dedicated to tasks that, as Stephen Covey would say,
are important but not urgent. Actually putting this time into
your daily schedule vastly increases the chances that you put
first things first. The term pro time comes from a
Harvard Business Review article by Charlotte Blank, Laura George Laurel Newman,

and Ashley Willins called getting your team to do more
than meet deadlines. As the title suggests, most of us
know how easy it is to spend all our time
on earth a gent tasks. When an assignment has a deadline,
it always cuts to the front of the line. We
do what's urgent because it demands our attention right now. Unfortunately, though,

this can mean we rarely get to the tasks that
are important but that don't have a specific deadline. Think
researching new clients or writing a white paper to build
your expertise, or thinking through an employee's career development. Important
tasks are even more likely to get deferred if they
are hard. Urgent tasks offer a quick, easy win. We

love crossing these things off and then feeling productive, even
if in the grand scheme of things we aren't. The
Harvard Business Review article describes the author's research about a
strategy to help workers do their most important work rather
than being consumed by what is urgent. One group of
workers identified tasks that were important and tasks that were urgent,

and then scheduled pro time daily for the important but
not urgent tasks. Compared with a control group, the workers
with dedicated time for important, non urgent tasks reported that
they were more effective with their time, accomplished more, and
felt less overwhelmed, while they remained just as responsive to

client requests as those in the control group. That last
finding is huge. One of the reasons people don't schedule
uninterrupted pro time is a worry that clients will urgently
need them. It turns out that clients also like people
to come up with good ideas, which is hard to

do when you're constantly answering email. Good to know, So
consider whether pro time could offer similar benefits for you.
And your team. Try setting aside a block of time
every day to work on tasks that are important the
partest sappens in the study used two hour blocks of time,
so you could start with that amount and then try

different durations until you find what's best for you. If
two hours every day doesn't seem doable, try two hours
three days a week, or an hour daily, and then
a just upward as you start to see benefits. As
part of your weekly planning routine, identify the tasks you
want to accomplish during pro time, Tasks that are important

with a potentially big payoff for you and your employer.
Then during your scheduled pro time, focus just on the
task you've identified. Block out distractions, put away other tasks
if there are other people in this space where you're working,
shut the door if you can, or put on headphones.
When your pro time comes to an end, note what

you've accomplished. If you're a manager, consider introducing your direct
reports to pro time too. You can work together to
determine the right amount of pro time based on the
nature of people's job responsibilities. With a whole team of
people setting aside time for important but not urgent things,
you may be amazed at what you accomplish, and if

you try this pro time, I'd love to hear how
it went. You can let me know at Laura at
Laura Vanderkam dot com. In the meantime, this is Laura.
Thanks for listening, and here's to succeeding in the New
Corner Office. The New Corner Office is a production of

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