How NOT to Work 60-Hour Weeks

by Cornelius Fichtner

How NOT to Work 60-Hour Weeks Podcast With Kim Wasson | PMWorld 360 MagazineWork Smarter Not Hard: In this podcast, Cornelius Fichtner interviews Kim Wasson about how to work smarter, not harder so you don’t have to work 60 hours a week.

The interview took place in California at the Project Management Global Conference in 2018. They discuss how it can be hard to juggle everything on your project. They provide tips on how to work more efficiently, so you don’t have to work 60 hours a week.

They discuss how if you take a page from agile development, by adding tools from behavioral psychology to Pomodoro and incorporating pragmatic prioritization, you’ll be able to build a personalized time management system that fits your own working style. By following the tips mentioned in the interview, you should be able to come out of this interview with a manageable system for yourself and the tools to help your team members manage their own time and priorities.

SOURCE: Project Management Podcast

So how can you work, smarter not harder? It’s hard to juggle everything on your project. And just a glance at your company’s project management methodology can make you despair about getting it all done.

But if we take a page from agile development, adding tools from behavioral psychology to Pomodoro, and incorporating pragmatic prioritization, you’ll be able to build a personalized time management system that fits your own working style. Come out of this interview with a manageable system for yourself and the tools to help your team members manage their own time and priorities.

This interview with Kim Wasson (LinkedIn Profile) was recorded at the exciting Project Management Institute (PMI)® Global Conference 2018 in Los Angeles, California.

How to work smarter, not harder—or 60 hours a week

In the interview we review the key components of a good time/priority management system, the smorgasbord of tools available, and we discuss how to create a tailored time management system and advise team members on ways to manage their time and priorities.

Oh… also… below is an image of the time management system that got Cornelius so excited during the recording:

So whether you are trying to find more time to do risk management in agile projects, or you want to reclaim some time for professional development, exam prep, stakeholder engagement or something else, let’s dive into this episode so you can pick up some new time management techniques.

Cornelius Fichtner’s How NOT to Work 60-Hour Weeks and Instead Work smarter, not harder: Podcast Transcript

Podcast Introduction

Kim Wasson: In this episode of The Project Management Podcast™, I show you how not to work 60-hour weeks.

Cornelius Fichtner: Hello and welcome to The Project Management Podcast™ at I’m Cornelius Fichtner. We are coming to you live from the exciting 2018 PMI Global Conference in Los Angeles, California.

Podcast Interview

Cornelius Fichtner: And with me right now here in the hallway is Kim Wasson.

Hello, Kim!

Kim Wasson: Hello, Cornelius! It’s nice to be with you again.

Cornelius Fichtner: Yes, thank you. Another conference, another Podcast interview it seems.

Kim Wasson: Indeed! I’ve switched directions a little bit this year talking about different things.

Cornelius Fichtner: Yeah so you’ve been speaking at quite a few number, how many is this that you are speaking?

Kim Wasson: This is three.

Cornelius Fichtner: This is the third! Oh! So I caught you at every single presentation.

Kim Wasson: Yes, you caught me right at the beginning. Yes, because we talked before I started even coming to PMI.

Cornelius Fichtner: Yeah! How is this for you as a speaker? How much value does it bring to come here, speak, meet people?

Kim Wasson: It’s actually quite valuable. The preparation for the conference gets better every year. There’s more support. They are more concise. They offer a lot more reviews and I love meeting people and I like to talk about the things that I talk about.

Cornelius Fichtner: When I presented a few years back, I had to actually submit a white paper. Do they still require it now?

Kim Wasson: They do not require that.

Cornelius Fichtner: Okay.

Kim Wasson: It was actually last year, they didn’t. The year before they did. It was quite a shock so I didn’t know I’d have to do it the year I did. I had to back up and write it down.

Cornelius Fichtner: Right. So for anyone out there who’s interested in speaking at a PMI Conference, it is now much easier and more accessible. If you have a good topic and a good presentation, you can do it.

Kim Wasson: Yes, it’s not that difficult. They have Toastmasters that you can review with and it’s very well done. People here are very nice. It’s nice to present here. People are supportive.

Cornelius Fichtner: When is your presentation?

Kim Wasson: Two o’clock today.

Cornelius Fichtner: Two o’clock today. Any idea how many people have signed up?

Kim Wasson: No! They don’t check. So I don’t know I might go into an empty room. It’s a different topic. The emotional intelligence that I talk on, the rooms are always packed because it’s such a hot topic. So we’ll see how this one.

Cornelius Fichtner: So you said it. You’ve changed your focus a little bit. Your topic this year is how not to work 60-hour weeks and we’re not going into emotional intelligence today.

Kim Wasson: No.

Cornelius Fichtner: Why the change?

Kim Wasson: I didn’t have really a lot new to say on the emotional intelligence front and I have been doing more and more of this with the people that I coach. This time management because I think we were already, project managers always have a lot of incoming. We always have and with the internet and everything else that’s going, the incoming never stops and so people get behind.

People that I work with work a lot of extra hours and it’s really hard to get hold of that. And so as I have been working through, I’ve actually codified what I’m telling people and it’s working well. It’s helping people. And so, I want to put it out to a broader audience.

Cornelius Fichtner: Alright! So let’s a put a shout-out right there. You help people with their time management.

Kim Wasson: Yes.

Cornelius Fichtner: So if anybody after this interview feels this sounds great, I need assistance because I’m sure I won’t be able to get through this on my own, they can get in touch with you.

Kim Wasson: Yes, they can absolutely do that. Yes!

Cornelius Fichtner: Excellent, wonderful! So how exactly did you come up with this approach?

Kim Wasson: Over a period of years. I’m kind of a non-standard person. And so, I had to roll my own time management and I found that a lot of other people are doing that. The CAN systems, what I think of as the CAN systems, Covey and the Day-Timer stuff and the Pomodoro, they work really well for the person who developed them. But if it doesn’t fit exactly with how you work, it’s just this extra stuff that you have to do and you drop it because it’s extra. It’s not how you work.

And so there are some ground rules that you have to have for any time management, but you need to customize and it needs to be fit in with what you do so it’s not extra work. It’s just managing the work that you have and that’s how I have evolved it. I use a lot of the emotional intelligence or at least some of those concepts like the learning styles to help people develop systems that work for them. So if you are an auditory learner, you let Siri read your reminders. If you’re a tactile learner, you use a whiteboard or whatever it is that feels right to you and doesn’t make extra work.

Cornelius Fichtner: Okay, yeah. So jumped right into it into the learning styles. But allow me to take a step back and go at this from the very beginning. Why do we need time management? What does it help us become?

Kim Wasson: It helps us understand what is on our plate. It helps us work on the right thing at the right time. That’s the biggest part of it. For various reasons, we all procrastinate on things that we know we have to do or we forget about them or the list gets too long. Or we go down a rabbit hole because somebody’s right in front of us, right? And then we get to the end of the day and really like: ‘I’m tired. I know I worked. I don’t what I did but it wasn’t I thought I was going to do when I started out.’ So that pulls it all together. It also gives us a chance to construct some time for thinking to do the things that we don’t have time to do so we skip them or we do them at home or we do them late at night.

Risk management, risk assessment, learning new things, fixing processes. Having a system helps you carve out time to do those things that on the Eisenhower Matrix are important but not urgent. They are not right in front of us but they’ll keep us out of trouble.

Cornelius Fichtner: Okay. Let’s talk about the Eisenhower Matrix by the way. Let’s get this out of the way. So it consists of four quadrants, what are they?

Kim Wasson: They are on two axes — important and urgent. So the quadrants are urgent and important,

Cornelius Fichtner: I’m showing her her slides. She is like: “No, no, no!”

Kim Wasson: Oh I got this. Now there’s urgent and important and that’s like the system is crashing and you got to deal with that. You absolutely have to deal with that.

There’s urgent and not important. That’s the guy who sits next to you coming by to talk about the game last weekend and whatever. It’s right in front of you but is not important. You know we spend our time on that.

There’s not urgent and not important, which we should not be doing ever.

And there is not urgent and important and that’s sharpening the saw. This is the thinking stuff that you do to keep you out of urgent and important, to keep you away when the system crashes and the emergencies. It’s the pre-work and meeting your long-term goals and things like that all go in important but not urgent.

Cornelius Fichtner: Okay! So we have not urgent, not important, don’t do those.

Kim Wasson: Don’t do them.

Cornelius Fichtner: Right! We have urgent and important. That’s at the exact other spectrum.

Kim Wasson: Yes, let’s do it now.

Cornelius Fichtner: That’s when something crashes, right?

Kim Wasson: Yes.

Cornelius Fichtner: And then in the middle, we have important, not urgent and urgent, not important. Which of these four should we actually be focusing on most?

Kim Wasson: Important and not urgent.

Cornelius Fichtner: Important and not urgent.

Kim Wasson: Absolutely! Although if it’s important and urgent, you have to do it. Your CEO shows up in your office, you better deal with that.

Cornelius Fichtner: Yeah, server is down.

Kim Wasson: You have to do that but the more you do of important, not urgent, the less important and urgent is going to come at you because you’ve laid the groundwork for keeping out of trouble.

Cornelius Fichtner: In your presentation, you also suggest that people should track their time for a few days to see where their time goes. Have you done this for yourself?

Kim Wasson: I have done this for myself.

Cornelius Fichtner: What did you learn?

Kim Wasson: It is incredibly annoying. It absolutely is. I totally agree with it. It’s special project management because we’re switching gears and switching gears. But it shows you where you are wasting your time. It shows you where you are doing things that you shouldn’t be doing. And it also gives you like categories of work that will help you put a time management system together. You kind of know what general areas things to go to when you start to be able to portion time to them.

Cornelius Fichtner: It’s actually kind of relatively simple table that you have. Start time, stop time, the activity you have been working on, the people who were involved. Why the people who were involved?

Kim Wasson: Because you could start to see if you have someone who sucking down your time that shouldn’t be.

Cornelius Fichtner: Ah, okay. Got it!

Kim Wasson: Or someone who needs help or education, or I mean sometimes you’re just the shortest path. But sometimes people just, they need something that they haven’t gotten and so they’re just coming to you and so you can start to identify that too.

Cornelius Fichtner: Earlier on, I believe you mentioned learning styles. What is the influence of my learning style, my working style when it comes to my personal time management needs?

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