This week, we’re learning how to improve on our time management skills with help from Tiffany Dufu, Founder and CEO of The Cru. And spoiler alert: effective time management is not about time-blocking, to-do lists, or the Pomodoro Technique. Instead, it’s more about how to get clear about your priorities, how to utilise your calendar to get things done, and the questions to ask yourself when debating over which tasks are most important.
Tiffany is the author of the book Drop the Ball: Achieving More by Doing Less, and her startup, The Cru, is a peer coaching platform for women.
Highlights from this week’s episode
From the Tiffany Dufu Interview
On how to hone in on your priorities:
I think it’s really getting clear about what matters most to you…I often ask people what matters to you, and people usually rattle off aspects of their life. “My career matters to me. My family matters to me.” What I try to coach people toward is what do you hope to achieve in relationship to what matters most to you? You know, for me, it’s advancing women and girls. That’s my life’s work. That’s what I’m here to do. My career matters. But if, in the end, I haven’t advanced women and girls, for me that wasn’t a career that was worthy of having…My kids are important to me. Parenting is important to me. But what matters most is that I’m raising conscious global citizens. That’s what I hope to achieve in relationship to my parenting. And once you have clarity about what matters most to you, you begin to create a filter for what you should actually be focused on and doing. That’s really rooted in the next step, which is getting clear about your highest and best use in achieving what matters most to you, instead of just saying yes to everything that comes over the fence and your highest and best use is pretty much a combination of what you do very well with very little effort, not because you are a prodigy, usually because it’s something that you’ve just done over and over again, combined with what are the things that only you can do that would be either callous or highly irresponsible to delegate to another person.
On how a calendar can be more effective than a to-do list:
I’ve done away with a to-do list altogether. I personally can’t use them because I don’t have enough discipline to account for the reality of the world. You know, it’s a 24 hour day [and] there are, seven days a week. It’s time-boxed. And yet my to-do list never factored in the fact that I’m one human being and there’s only 24 hours in a day. What I would end up doing is just keep writing. I would keep adding to the to-do list, and then I would keep beating myself up and feeling terrible that I wasn’t getting everything done, even though rationally, if I looked at the list, it probably wasn’t humanly possible to get everything done on the list. So I use my calendar as an accountability mechanism for myself. When something comes over the fence, I add it to the calendar, I create a calendar and before for it, even if it seems like it’s something silly, like don’t forget to go to the post office or go, it’s like I put it on the calendar. That is an accountability measure for Tiffany, because if I can find no place for it in the calendar, then it forces me to do a reality check about whether or not this is something I need to go ahead and say yes to, whether or not I need to tell the person who might be inviting me or involved. I’m not able to do this or to go back to someone else.
We recommend listening to the full episode to hear more of Tiffany’s brilliant advice on how to manage our time better.