Posted on Sep 22, 2011 in Weblog | 3 comments

No B.S. Time Management for Entrepreneurs provides some insight into high-powered entrepreneurs like Dan Kennedy, who ran businesses so they worked for him in his favor, instead of the other way around. I routinely try to find ways to complete projects as effectively and efficiently as possible, so this book gave me some very interesting thoughts. And these are great for physicians: I often find doctors running around like headless chickens trying to perform surgery on one patient while answering pages about other patients in the PACU orSICU and juggling teaching medical students andresearch and side projects of running clinics in Africaand having a marriage.

(gasp) Let me exhale for a moment.

In the book, Dan Kennedy provides nuggets called “No B.S. Time Truths”, with some of my thoughts:

If you don’t know what your time is worth, you can’t expect the world to know it either.

Know what your time is worth by calculating your base earnings target for next year, divided by the work hours in a year. This roughly shows you how much you can earn a year. And use this to judge whether a project or a task is worth your time. e.g. One attending physician here at UC Irvine spent hours cleaning her own house, but it got to the point where it was more beneficial financially for her to hire a housekeeper.

I believe this is where grocery delivery services — like Safeway and Amazon.com — and online shopping come in handy.

For me, coincidentally, this is why I spend a lot of money on public transit. I consider it a great waste of time to be sitting in traffic and driving cars — and audio books don’t work for me as I’m a visual learner. I’d rather take buses and trains as I can read books and process e-mails at the same time. I also bicycle as it knocks out three goals at once: commuting, burning calories, and keeping the environment clean.

Time Vampires will suck as much blood out of you as you permit. If you’re drained dry at day’s end, it’s your fault.

Essentially, train people to either ask someone else, or ask you questions in a succinct, concise manner. Prevent “time vampires” and drama queens from wasting your time. Avoid meetings as they often end without resolution — but if you do have them, (1) set them before lunch or the end of the work day so people are eager to leave, (2) don’t serve refreshments as it adds more chit-chat time to a meeting, (3) have an agenda ready in advance, (4) and have a clear goal/objective for the meeting.

I’ve realized that this is why physicians routinely order PRN meds, so they don’t get interrupted. Metoprolol PRN high blood pressure. Diphenhydramine PRN insomnia. Acetaminophen PRN fever, pain. Morphine PRN pain. Hydrocodone PRN pain. OndansetronPRN nausea/vomiting. Docusate and sennosides PRN constipation. The list goes on.

This is also why I triage e-mails. I try not to answer some people’s e-mails instantaneously, and instead reply about a day later. I unfortunately have to check e-mail messages often for mission-critical announcements like job interview requests (in my case, for residency).

If they can’t find you, they can’t interrupt you.

I fondly remember the days working for Microsoft/Tellme where you could take “WFH” days — Working From Home — to save 90-120 minutes off commuting, stay at home, and just focus on a particular project or task. Dan Kennedy recommends to not have an open-door policy for C-suite executives, as it invites interruptions. Don’t carry a cell phone. Don’t be addicted to e-mail — check it only once or twice a day. “Be busy and be obvious about it.” But if people must speak with you, set a time limit on your conversation up front (“I have a meeting in 15 minutes but I can speak with you now,” or “I’m very busy at the moment, but I can speak with you at 4pm for 20 minutes.”).

Punctuality provides personal power.

Dan Kennedy’s argument: be punctual so that you can demand the same punctuality from other people. Punctuality and integrity are linked: people who can’t be punctual can’t be trusted. And it’s a very “simple way to favorably impress others.” This is one way to demand that others be cognizant of your time.

This is probably why many patients despise doctors who run late in clinics.

By all means, judge. But know that you too will be judged.

I don’t think this is a very strong part of the book, so I’ll skip it.

Self-discipline is MAGNETIC.

The author basically says that if you can control yourself, you can execute. e.g. stick to 1-hour-a-day of writing with no exceptions. This is especially important “because the entrepreneur is his own boss and can do as he pleases with his time.” He doesn’t go into much detail on how to accomplish this; his essential point is that being lazy is not something successful people do.

If you don’t MANAGE information, you can’t profit from information.

He goes over some techniques as to how to manage information. He keeps a tickler file (folders labelled 1-30 to represent days of the month), uses executive book summary services, resist distracting useless programs like TV news programs, learn how to speed-read, and capture ideas with voice recorders, sketchbooks, or sticky notes.

Good enough is good enough.

This is a variation of the 80/20 rule: it takes just a little effort, 20%, to have good results, or 80%; but it takes 80% of one’s time and effort to achieve that last 20% of polish. One attending physician at UC San Diego, I’ve heard, says, “Better is the enemy of good.”

Some other useful tidbits:

  • “Fight to link everything to your long-term goals.” He says that part of being successful is learning how to say “no” to opportunities that may sound good, but aren’t linked with your long-term goals.
  • Delegate, delegate, delegate. Make yourself replaceable so that you can train someone else to do what you are doing, so you can move on to do other projects but still serve as a manager.