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Tag Archive for: Time

How are you doing living on 24 hours a day?

How are you doing living on 24 hours a day?

There is so much that has been written about time and time management (and I’m sure there will be more in time to come) I really don’t think there’s much I can add but if you would like a copy on my little book on the subject please do get in touch and I’ll be pleased to email you a copy of the eBook version.

Blank softcover book template on white.



It’s a really short read (well you don’t have time for to waste)

I’d say about the time to enjoy one large cappuccino should do it (other beverages are of course available so feel free to make your own choice!)


For now I’ll share this with you as I feel it really does put some perspective on our 24 hours a day . . .

There is nothing exceptionally new here as there is nothing exceptionally new about time.
So I leave you with an article by the famous author Arnold Bennett who is probably best known for two of his books: “Clayhanger Trilogy” and “The Old wives’ Tale”
The article was called “How to live on Twenty-Four hours a Day” and was first published in 1910 and, I believe, holds as true today as ever.

I share this with you in its original form as no summary from me would do justice to such a fine piece of writing.
Please do read this. It may change your life!

“It [time] is the inexplicable raw material of everything. with it, all is possible; without it, nothing.

The supply of time is truly a daily miracle, an affair genuinely astonishing when one examines it.

You wake up in the morning, and lo! your purse is magically filled with twenty-four hours of the unmanufactured tissue of the universe of your life!

It is yours. It is the most precious of possessions. a highly singular commodity, showered upon you in a manner as singular as the commodity itself!
For remark! no one can take it from you. it is unstealable. and no one receives either more or less than you receive.

Talk about an ideal democracy!

In the realm of time there is no aristocracy of wealth, and no aristocracy of intellect. Genius is never rewarded by even an extra hour a day. and there is no punishment. waste your infinitely precious commodity as much as you will, and the supply will never be withheld from you. No mysterious power will say:- “This man is a fool, if not a knave. he does not deserve time; he shall be cut off at the meter.”

It is more certain than consols, and payment of income is not affected by Sundays.
Moreover, you cannot draw on the future. It’s impossible to get into debt!
You can only waste the passing moment. You cannot waste tomorrow; it is kept for you. You cannot waste the next hour; it is kept for you.

I said the affair was a miracle. Is it not?
You have to live on this twenty-four hours of daily time. Out of it you have to spin health, pleasure, money, content, respect, and the evolution of your immortal soul.

Its right use, its most effective use, is a matter of the highest urgency and most thrilling actuality. All depends on that.
Your happiness – the elusive prize that you are all clutching for, my friend! – depends on that.
The supply of time, though gloriously regular, is cruelly restricted.


50660945 - all the time in the world phrase on concept clock, isolated on white background

Which of us lives on twenty-four hours a day? And when I say “lives”, I do not mean exists or “muddles through”.
Which of us is free from that uneasy feeling that the “great spending departments” of his daily life are not managed as they ought to be?

Which of us is not saying to himself – which of us has not been saying to himself all his life: “I shall alter that when I have more time”?

We shall never have more time.

We have, and we always have had, all the time that there is.”


For your personal copy of ‘The One Big Mistake People Unwittingly Make When It Comes To Time Management and How To Avoid It” contact me here with your email address and I’ll get a copy of the eBook version straight to you. 

Overlapping thoughts and August chaos!

Overlapping thoughts and August chaos!

Well that was quite an August!

Three years ago I took an email sabbatical for the whole of August.

It was brilliant.  I learnt a lot about my email habit. (You can read my thinking at the time and the lessons learnt here)

This August, with not a huge amount of client work scheduled, I thought I’d take advantage of some downtime and get some things done for me, my business and my life.

No email sabbatical as such but a definite focus on my own agenda!

Then BAM! I had the rug well and truly pulled from under my feet and plans.

A simple (or so I thought) pesky insect bite on an early evening walk resulted in a dash for the local A & E department and then being transferred across town to another hospital and being admitted – I wasn’t expecting that! Nor was I expecting what came next! A three day stay, a shed load of antibiotics via IV in one arm and my other (the one with the bite) suspended so the pressure and fluid could drain.  I escaped the surgery they were contemplating thank goodness! Home with more meds and more arm elevation (constructed a clever device from a cymbal stand!) then just as I thought I was on the mend my immune system had other ideas! A further allergic reaction followed and that was me back in A & E! Talk about drama!!

Anyway, I won’t bore you with anymore of my woes. I’m well on the mend now so that’s the main thing.

My point is we never know what’s around the corner! Best laid plans and all that.

The positive that has come out of this is some enforced downtime which I hadn’t acknowledged I needed.

I know. I know. I should practice what I preach!

I really am my own worst client 🙂

Anyway, sometimes it’s good to switch off completely.  Like I didn’t know that already! Just wish I’d planned for it!

Hard I know when you work for yourself, have a demanding role etc.

Once I was better from the initial problems following that insect bite I had planned to be straight back in the office doing all those things I had initially planned for August, but having to stop and lie still for a while I realised how many overlapping thoughts I was having.  How much I wasn’t actually thinking straight. How much my planning had become, well, kind of chaotic and my thinking along with it.

I do have some chaos going on right now and some of it (hate it as I do) I can’t control.

Being still helped to calm those overlapping thoughts that were creating the chaos in my mind and helped me focus on what I can control.

Being still allowed me some time to put some perspective on some of those overlapping thoughts (I’m still working on some . . . Rome wasn’t built in a day!) and, being still helped me decide to take some more time out.

Another week of time out has been exactly what the doctor ordered! On this occasion that was me being my own physician (and a good client).

So here we are September.

I’m ready for you.

I’m ready for what’s next.

Revived. Refreshed. I can manage some of that chaos now I’ve calmed the baulk of it!

Note to self: Avoid pesky insect bites next August and plan a proper holiday.

Second note to self: Chaotic thoughts need calming.  Take time to calm the chaos. You know you are so much more productive without it.

Taking a holiday? Take an Email Sabbatical too!

Taking a holiday? Take an Email Sabbatical too!

Have you ever returned from a holiday more stressed out than when you left?

Is the reason because you came back to a gazillion email messages that managed to convey high pitched anxiety even in text with some exclamation points for added pressure?

Surely a holiday should be a break from the insanity not a procrastination of it?

Sometimes you need to realize and accept that when you take a holiday you need a real break.

Well I certainly do!

I don’t want to be tethered via email or social media.

I want to go offline.

AND I also want to come back without the onslaught of messages that would take me weeks to unbury myself from.

Sounds ideal.  And it is!

I did it three years ago for a whole month and I lived to tell the tale!

Maybe it’s time I did it again!

The idea is simple – here’s what to do (next time you plan a holiday)

  • turn off your email and delete it.
  • set up a filter and send all messages to trash
  • send a bounce message telling people their message wasn’t received and that they should resend it after X date or send you the contents via snail mail (for those who want to get the message off their plate of to-dos)
  • this isn’t just a typical out-of-office delayed response message, but a very clear sign that the message was not – and will never be – received. This way, you come home refreshed from your holiday with an empty inbox.

Of course you don’t want to p..s people off and you will if you just turn off your email with no warning so here are some tips to successfully take an email sabbatical . . .

  • Step 1: Schedule that holiday.  We’re talking holiday not a long weekend. You need time to decompress. Schedule it ahead of time. I’d recommend at least two weeks so that you can really relax. You’ll spend the first week of it still shell-shocked from stepping away from the computer anyhow.
  • Step 2: Communicate with colleagues. Long before you’re headed out on that holiday, tell people that you intend to be gone from X to Y dates. You can tell collaborators months in advance so that you can make sure that you’re all on the same page and that everyone has everything they need.
  • Step 3: Manage expectations. Talk to everyone who relies on you. Schedule a meeting before you leave and schedule one for when you return. Agree on the to-dos and create a contingency plan for issues that might arise while you’re unreachable.
  • Step 4: Create a backdoor for emergencies. Identify someone that is willing to serve as a buffer for you that you can check in with every 3rd day or so who people will be afraid to contact unless it’s an emergency. You could for example use your mother for this one or some other family member.  Colleagues might feel weird about calling your mother, but they’ll do it if it’s an emergency. This is a good safety net if you don’t feel like you can be out-of-reach for that long.
  • Step 5: Send a final warning note. A week or two before you depart, send a note out to everyone reminding them that you’re about to leave in case they need anything from you. And then turn on your out-of-office notice to warn people that you’re about to disappear into the void. That way, you catch any notable issues.
  • Step 6: Make your email go poof!  Add an away message / auto-responder that will catch people’s attention and inform them that you’re gone and that their message will never be received. Then filter ALL of your email like you would if it were spam. Use your favourite mail program to send everything straight to the Trash. Bye-bye!
  • Step 7: Disappear. And do it for real. Seriously, take that holiday. You need it. There’s nothing like a holiday to rejuvenate and make you better at your job. If you come back refreshed, you’ll have better ideas and be more on top of your game. There’s no gimmick here. This is basic logic. We’re all often overworked and maxed out and when we’re stressed we don’t function well. Use your holiday. Use it well. Cherish it. And don’t work while you’re on holiday. That. Defeats. The. Point.
  • Step 8: Re-entry. When you’re back, quietly turn everything back to normal. Reach out to the people who depend on you the most for a check-in. Make sure to schedule time to give them what they need. Be attentive, be supportive, be holiday-refreshed calm.

This may not be for you, I appreciate that.  But do give the idea some thought.  Your future self might just thank you for it!

And remember – communication is the key to an email sabbatical.

Disappearing without properly making certain that everyone has what they need is irresponsible and disrespectful and people will get p’ed off. They’ll be offended. They’ll think you’re all high and mighty. But when you go through steps to make sure everyone’s covered, it’s amazing at how well people respond. And, you might even find others start taking email sabbaticals thus guaranteeing everyone gets the reset they need from time to time.

When I tried this a while ago people asked me if I was frantic about the emails I must’ve missed.


What’s funny is that, aside from the first 48 hours where people liked to test my bounce message, people stopped sending me email. With all of these steps in place, people actually left me alone.

Did I miss anything?

Sure I did.

But I don’t fear missing out because I know how important it is to truly, genuinely, actually take a break.

Being burnt out is crappy.

When I’m burnt out, I’m a crappy employee, (I know I’m self employed, but I’m crappy employee to myself)  a dreadful friend, and a terrible person to be around.

It’s well worth missing out on a few things in order to make sure that I’m who I want to be.

So go ahead, don’t be afraid, and don’t make excuses. Next time you take a holiday. Take an email sabbatical too!

Could this simple gadget help you go further, faster?

Could this simple gadget help you go further, faster?

Have you come across The Pomodoro Technique before?

If not read on . . .

Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s.

The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals.

Traditionally 25 minutes in length separated by short breaks.

The intervals are called pomodoros.

The Pomodoro Technique is named after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that Cirillo used as a university student.

There are six stages in the technique:

  1. Decide on the task to be done.
  2. Set the Pomodoro timer to n minutes (traditionally n = 25).
  3. Work on the task until the timer rings. If a distraction pops in to your head, write it down, but immediately get back on task.
  4. After the timer rings put a checkmark on a piece of paper
  5. If you have fewer than four checkmarks take a short break (3-5 minutes) then go back to

step 1.

  1. Else (i.e. after four pomodoros) take a longer break (15-30 minutes), reset your checkmark count to zero then go to step 1.

The stages of planning, tracking, recording, processing and visualizing are fundamental to the technique.  In the planning phase tasks are prioritised by recording them in a “To Do Today” list.  This enables users to estimate the effort tasks require.  As pomodoros are completed they are recorded adding to a sense of accomplishment and providing raw data for subsequent self-observation and improvement.

The stages of planning, tracking, recording, processing and visualizing are fundamental to the technique.  In the planning phase tasks are prioritized by recording them in a “To Do Today” list.

This enables users to estimate the effort tasks require.  As pomodoros are completed they are recorded adding to a sense of accomplishment and providing raw data for subsequent self-observation and improvement.

For the purpose of the technique, a pomodoro is the interval of time spent working. After task completion any time remaining in the Pomodoro is devoted to overlearning.  The theory behind overlearning is that practicing newly acquired skills beyond the point of initial mastery leads to automaticity.  Automaticity is the ability to do things without occupying the mind with the low level details required, allowing it to become an automatic response pattern or habit.


Why a mechanical timer?

I use this one and you will find many other shapes and sizes available.

Star Timer

The creator and proponents of this technique encourage a low-tech approach, using a mechanical timer, paper and pencil.  The physical act of winding the timer confirms the user’s determination to start the task; ticking externalises desire to complete the task; ringing announces a break.  Flow and focus become associated with these physical stimuli.

Workplace time management a real challenge.  Emails, texts, phone calls and even snack breaks prevent us from focussing on – and effectively executing – a single task at a time.  For decades countless people have used the Pomodoro technique to improve work and project productivity.

You can of course set time segments that fit your workflow, reduce distractions and share your productivity timer with your teammates or colleagues to complete tasks more efficiently.


The philosophy behind this aims to provide you with maximum focus and creative freshness thereby allowing you to complete projects faster with less mental fatigue.

Frequent breaks will keep your mind fresh and focussed.  The system is easy to use and you will see results quickly.  You will probably begin to notice a difference in your work (or study) within a day or two.  True mastery of the technique takes from seven to twenty days of contact use.


If you have a large and varied to do list using the Pomodoro Technique can help you crank your way through projects faster by forcing you to adhere to strict timing.  Watching the timer wind down can spur you to wrap up your current task more quickly, and spreading a task over two or three pomodoros can keep you from getting frustrated.  The constant timing of your activities makes you more accountable for your tasks and minimizes the time you spend procrastinating. You’ll grow to ‘respect the tomato’ and that can help you to better handle your workload.


Buried in email? Here’s another use for your timer

Star Timer

Let’s assume this is a daily tasks for which you allow half an hour

  1. Set your timer for 20 minutes.
  2. Begin dealing with your email
  3. After 20 minutes your timer will ring. Take stock.  Where have you got to?

Chances are you will have responded to some emails you weren’t expecting.  You’ve maybe followed a link or two and ended up somewhere you didn’t expect to go (I’m sure we’ve all done this at some time!)

  1. Set the timer for the remaining 10 minutes and complete what you set out to do.

This process will highlight how long 20 minutes is, how long 10 minutes is and therefore how long 30 minutes is.  If you regularly schedule 30 minutes for this task you will become aware if this is a sufficient amount of time.  If it’s not then you need to allocate more time to the task.

Using this method your also become aware of the distractions that take you off task (like following web links).


So there you have it; two uses of a timer.

If you’ve not tried these methods before why not give it a go.

What have you got to loose!

And, if it doesn’t work for you?

Well, you can always use your timer for your boiled eggs or baking!


Do you need some help with your time management?

A Time Audit may be just what you need or a review of your plans, objectives and strategy to meet them.

Maybe it’s time to talk

Deborah Labbate - contact page - time-to-talk2 (2)


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Time Audit

Time Audit

Star Timer

Time is often equated with money, and just as we often find ourselves short of cash, we also find ourselves with short of time.

To understand where your time goes, it is important to assess how you actually spend it.

This is where a ‘time audit’ can prove to be invaluable.

A time audit can help you carefully track your time over the course of a week.

This detailed picture of what you’re doing each day can help you determine if you’re spending your time on the tasks and activities you want and need to be doing.

This exercise will give you an indication of where time may be being wasted without you even realising it.

A simple exercise that packs a powerful punch!

It will help you identify

  • patterns in your behaviour
  • distractions
  • interruptions

Contact me for your Time Audit Tracking Chart

Below highlights 4 areas where I frequently see time wasted.

Look at the list and identify areas where you feel you waste most time.

1. Your Inner self

  • Fear of Failure
  • Low self esteem
  • Fear of making the wrong decision
  • Lack of urgency
  • Unable to say No

2. Lack of planning

  • Lack of written goals
  • Quick decisions
  • Taking on too much / making time estimates unrealistically low
  • Failure to break priorities into manageable parts
  • Lack of plan / priorities

3. Lack of self-management 

  • Biting off more than you can chew
  • Lack of delegation (wanting to do everything yourself)
  • Perfectionism
  • Haste or impatience
  • Failure to listen or take notes

4. Lack of control over the work environment

  • Telephone interruptions
  • Drop-in visitors
  • Too much paperwork
  • Too many meetings
  • Confused responsibility and authority

No an exhaustive list, but some very common points.

Think about your own situation and environment.

What are the causes behind wasting time you can see?

I share some more thoughts on Time and 10 tips which you may find useful in my book ‘The One Big Mistake People Unwittingly Make When It Comes To Time Management and HOW To Avoid It’.  You can access your free copy here  by completing the sign up box at the top of my home page or send me a request and I will email you a copy or you can also view here 


If you would like a copy of my Time Audit Tracking Chart contact me and I will send you a copy with my compliments.



Just ask! or You can read more here 

Star Timer



1:1 Time Audit sessions available ~ more details here 

In-house Time Audit and Time Management programmes, training and workshops also available.

Contact me to discuss your individual requirements