Monthly Archives: August 2012

Time Locking

time-locking-thumbMy father used to be the most successful businessman in our family. Now, being retired, he can no longer fall back on many helpful hands such as his PA, a team leader or even my Mum who used to support him in the company.

Now my Dad needs to get things done on his own. And he is succeeding to a certain extent – in his mid-seventies he tries to use the laptop and understand the internet, and he uses Online Banking. However, when I visited him a few weeks ago, I saw his desk in his little study under the roof of the family home. What a mess! I had never seen anything like this on his desk in his company! Additionally, my Dad was grumpy and stroppy—something I was not used to from him. [In case you didn’t know, stroppy means belligerent.]

When I carefully tried to find out what happened, he mentioned that he simply doesn’t get those things done which are on his personal To Do list. His grandchildren, his wife, friends, and neighbours were always interrupting him—many, many times. It wasn’t that he didn’t like to chat with his neighbour or that he doesn’t love to see his little granddaughter as a circus artist, but he simply couldn’t get those things done he wanted to do.

That’s when I introduced the Time Lock out of Structured Time and Workflow Management (STWM) to my Dad. I know a lot has been said about this technique in different blogs – but we asked my niece and nephews to draw a wonderful Stop sign for their granddad, and it worked!

I have to admit, it felt a little awkward in the beginning to use a tool from the business context in the personal environment, but my Dad loves it and uses it frequently. He is so much more relaxed now. He’s happy with his items checked off on his mental To Do list, and has more quality time to give his undivided attention to his grandchildren, neighbours and friends.

Your thoughts?

Claudia Irmer is a Results Consultant for Cohen Brown Management (Europe) Ltd.

time locking, interruptions

Do Not Disturb

donotdisturbSuch a luxury! I found myself in a decent hotel room while traveling on business, contemplating an hour during the day with no meetings and, best of all, a “Do Not Disturb” sign on my door! I felt like I won the lottery. A full hour without interruptions would allow me to focus on accomplishing a few important tasks or to get a good start on a project with a deadline that’s quickly approaching.

I set to work, the hour flew by, and I was amazed at what I had accomplished because I hadn’t been interrupted. It was at least twice the amount of work I normally got done in the office. Originally, I planned to catch up on these tasks in the evening, or very early the following morning. Now that time was free for other things.

That’s when I began to wonder what would happen if I was able to translate my hotel room’s “Do Not Disturb” sign into an effective office practice that allowed for some interruption-free time each day.

Like many of us, my team is smaller than it once was, and we’re struggling to keep up the pace. If I could ensure the members of my team had 30 minutes to an hour every day without unnecessary interruptions, they would undoubtedly accomplish more in a shorter period of time. In fact, it would actually free up time and reduce stress. Instead of wondering how to get everything accomplished given our resources, my team might be faced with the challenge of ensuring that the extra time they’ve created is used effectively.

That’s a challenge we’re willing to face.

Your thoughts?

Cynthia Leverich is Director of Global Business Development for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.

Stop, Drop and Roll


I know that’s a saying used for fires, but it also can be used as a solution for today’s busy and distracting workplace.

Somehow the connection came to me this afternoon, and I have linked Stop, Drop and Roll to some of our main concepts of Structured Time and Workflow Management. 

Stop = Focal Locking

I don’t really know how this happened, but I ended up with a Friday afternoon with no meetings, no appointments and no projects that were due yesterday. So I decided to use my time to think about business development and used focal locking on that concept. I was able to stop thinking about all the other things I do and focus only on business development. I even dug out some of my previous plans that are still good!

Drop = Meetings, Distractions

Once I decided to focus on business development, I was able to turn away from my PC, drop the urge to immediately respond to incoming emails and focus again on this one area, business development. Putting a time lock on for thinking and dropping everything else, even for a few hours, was so productive, and I still felt like part of the 21st century even though I didn’t answer an email for 2 hours.

Roll = Plan

Now that I was able to focus and time lock, I emerged with a plan. I actually was able to brainstorm (with myself) and came up with some things that I think will work. Had I not used this Window of Opportunity for thinking, stopped all the busyness and dropped all the self-created distractions, I would still be thinking about my plan (and not have one) days later.

It’s funny because in my recent research with former colleagues on what they would do with surplus time, they all said “think, plan, analyze”. I know what they mean now and can add my name to the list.

Next time you need to think, Stop, Drop and Roll with the concepts of focal locking, time locking and planning.

Your thoughts?

Johanna Lubahn is Managing Director of Call Center Services for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.