[Book review] Practical Time Management Training

Book review: 実践!タイムマネジメント

I read the book about time management named "実践! タイムマネジメント研修". This book is published only in Japan but I think this is the good book to learn time management because it introduces some practical examples we can try immediately and it was easy to read because it has the story like a novel.

On the other hand, the disadvantage of this book is there is no summary of what to do. So in this blog, I'd like to introduce the summary we can try practically.

The principle of Time management

Principle of Time-management

This book says for the first time the very basic principle to take an advantage of any type of resources such as money, space, people and time efficiently. It's to match with the purpose without any gap. There are 2 points for that. The first point is the share of information. The second point is to divide into smaller. The latter one is called "Clustering" and I summarize about it in the next article.


Definition of Clustering

The point of Clustering is to spend your limited time efficiently. This means it’s better to try to fill in your free time with separated smaller tasks than with the big blocks.

You can imagine a shelf and now you need to put one big box in it. There are lots of clothes, socks, pants and so on in this box. But it's obviously impossible to put this box on the shelf. In this case, what do you think you will do? Perhaps, you will take the contents out of the box and put them on the shelf. Clustering is the same as this example, the book says.

Also, you can imagine how you suddenly get 20 minutes free time but you have only so-so big tasks which you seem to take over 1 hour. In this case, what do you think you will do? Check Facebook, watch Youtube, throw away garbage or like that? But if you could separate a task of 1 hour into 3 tasks of 20 minutes, you can advance it now. This is Clustering.

This is the graph to show how our brain works at work. The author of this book is the business efficiency consultant. When he starts the project to improve the efficiency of a client, he always checked who spent how long for which task. This graph is based on his research result.
One of the benefits of Clustering is shown on this graph. People can concentrate well in only 40 - 50 mins from the beginning. So it's efficient to do tasks that you can complete within this time.

This is the format of the management table so that you can try Clustering. I think it's very general format so I guess some of you have ever seen this. We can manage the importance and urgency of each task using this format.

I'm using Trello to manage tasks. This is very simple Kanban tool but this provides lots of plugins and easy to customize.

I have one private board to manage all of my tasks like above. I have to do lots of tasks with lots of types such as projects (software development), HR, accounting, IT system, sales and so on. In order to avoid to forget what to do, I create any task on it even if it's very small. As the progress, I just manage ToDo, Doing and Done (actually I have some more though). Then upper card means higher priority. I always specify label and label means the type.

Each card has Checklist and this is the list of smaller tasks (= Clustering). If I have short available time, I check an upper card if it has unchecked tasks or not. Then I can fill in the small blanks.

Avoid excessive quality

One more method for time management that this book introduces is to avoid excessive quality. What it says is it's important to match the expectation from your boss or the other colleagues to you and decrease the gap between them as possible.

Of course, it's a good attitude to try to exceed the expectation but if we output what we are not expected as a result we try to exceed the expectation, it's just waste of time.

Our brain has the habit to think of what we can do within the range of the resources we have now, but we have to focus on what we should do instead of what we can do.

Then, this book introduces some concrete methods to avoid the excessive quality as below.

The first technique is to confirm the exact requirement. Yes, I know all of us understand the importance to confirm that but this book introduces the concrete communication.

ex) Your boss ordered to buy meat dish for lunch.
A) ... Boss
B) ... You
A) Can you buy meat dish for lunch?
B) There are various types in meat but what kind of meat do you need?
A) I like beef.
B) For example? (Get some samples so that you can imagine)
A) Hamberg, Bolognese pasta, Lasagna...
B) Oh, they are all very different dishes but in brief, you like to eat a dish with minced beef? (Hypothesis of the range)
A) That's right!
B) If so, how about a hamburger? I know a good shop near here. (Verification of out of range)
A) Cool! I want to try that!
I hope you can imagine the process that B tried to find the center of the circle (= range of the expectation) then confirmed to what extent they can extend the circle. This is how to confirm the exact requirement.

The process to confirm the exact requirement is important in the case of the slogan or target of an organization or a company as well. If you find the words like "Improve", "Promote", "Strengthen" and so on, let's confirm "what" (type) and "how much" (degree) to your manager so that you can understand quantitatively.

The second technique to avoid the excessive quality is to evaluate necessity and importance. As I wrote above, we should do what we should do, not what we can do now. In order to know "what we should do", this technique is important.

What is "what we should do"? It's essential things. In order to know the essential degree, we should assume "what if we did not do that?" or "what if it did not exist?". If the answer is "we can't achieve the purpose", it's essential. And the size of disadvantage is the importance.

This technique is useful for not only avoiding the excessive quality but also letting customers judge the priority. It's possible to raise the priority if you can find the problem of a customer and propose "unless you buy it, you cannot resolve its problem".

The third technique is to confirm the original purpose. Firstly we need to understand the chain of the purpose and the goal. For example, like this.

  1. A customer is not satisfied with the current project because they can't understand the progress exactly. (Status)
  2. Let's raise the customer satisfaction. (Purpose)
  3. Share the progress exactly and frequently (Method)
  4. Want to share the progress exactly and frequently (Purpose)
  5. Send daily report every evening (Method)

In this example, the direct purpose to send daily report is to share the progress exactly and frequently with the customer. But the original purpose is to raise the customer satisfaction. So if they can't improve the customer satisfaction even if they keep sending a daily report, it's the waste of time.

Like this, understanding the original purpose helps you judge if you really need its task or not, or to what extent you need to do its task.

Then, how can you find the original purpose? It's easy. Just repeat "Why" many times. In general, we should repeat "Why" 5 times but it depends.

The purpose to repeat "Why" multiple times is to verbalize exactly who its work is for in essence, what kind of needs you want to meet with its work for an opponent.


In summary, this book introduces 2 methods for time management.

  • Clustering
  • Avoid excessive quality
The former one is how to manage tasks. The latter one is mainly about the way of communication. So we can understand the communication skill is very important for time management as well.

I'm happy if you can find the good way of time management from my summary!

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About Tomohide Kakeya

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