Monthly Archives: May 2014


by Claudia Irmer


A while back I attended a training course on perfecting coaching skills for a specific target audience: executive managers. It was an illustrious circle of high-profile and skilled individuals who were there to learn from one of the leading coaches in this area.

During one of the sessions an attendee—let me call him John—shared the difficulties he has at his workplace: his boss tends to give him a task and expects him to complete it quickly, but then she interrupts him all the time. John was helpless as to how to deal with her. As we were having a break and enjoying our coffees, he turned to me: “Claudia, I’ve come to know you as an empathetic yet straightforward person. How would you handle this situation?”

Admittedly, this is a tricky situation. How do you tell your boss to back off, so you can finish the tasks she gives you? One thing was clear to me from the beginning: he needed to speak with his boss! But the point was how he would phrase it – “winging it” would not be helpful as his future career was at stake. I then remembered the scripting technique we teach in our Structured Time and Workflow Management programme.

I shared the following steps with John:

  1. What are the key points you want to convey to your boss? Jot them down.
  2. Rank them in the order of priority.
  3. Script your message to each of the key points in the 1st person; conform to these rules:
    • Be truthful.
    • Be simple, clear and articulate.
    • Speak from the heart.
  4. Rehearse!
    • You need to hear yourself say, out loud, what you have scripted.
    • The more often you practice your script, the more confident and professional you will feel.

John and I did the scripting exercise and rehearsed it several times – and the next time we saw each other, he shared the successful use of his script!

Claudia Irmer is a Results Consultant for Cohen Brown Management. Within the European Team, Claudia covers the territory of UK, continental Europe, and the Middle East.







Urgent vs easy

by Claudia Irmer


I admit I am a planning, prioritising and controlling freak! I simply love to not only achieve my goals, but to do it in such a way that others will be able to draw some experiences from it and maybe even be impressed.

True, by nature I am structured and I like to plan ahead, but to be honest that is only the beginning. When the phone does not stop ringing, e-mails pour in and I’m faced with several different projects with similar deadlines, here is what I do:

I take a step back, as well as a deep breath, and use the Importance vs. Urgency Prioritisation Grid. It works by differentiating what’s important to me and my job from what’s urgent to others. It allows me to take situational control by not confusing the two.

Across the grid’s X axis I write down Importance, by which I mean my own perspective. What is important to ME and the goals I have committed to.

Along the Y axis I plot Urgency, based on OTHERS’ perspectives. I interpret things that are important to others as being urgent. Others include my boss, team members, clients or colleagues – anyone who is putting tasks on my To Do list. When something is urgent to others and important to me as well, then it is a Critical Few.

I use other sub-divisions as well in order to get myself structured and to decide in which order to tackle the different tasks. What I recommend doing is to read “The Time Bandit Solution” by Edward G. Brown – his book opened my eyes. It even helped me to get better than I was and to gain some valuable time I can now use to perfect my skills.

Claudia Irmer is a Results Consultant for Cohen Brown Management. Within the European Team, Claudia covers the territory of UK, continental Europe, and the Middle East.




Pre-Order Now

Available August 12, 2014



Planning Protocols


by Claudia Irmer


I have a dear and close friend, and she is in a managing position. I have no idea what exactly it is she does for a living, but as our relationship has no professional background, I thought it would not play a big role.

As far as I’ve gotten to know Betti, she is very dedicated and ambitious, and always tries to give her best. Some would say she is a perfectionist, but as the term has a negative ring, I won’t go over that bridge. But there is one big issue with Betti: She is always late! When we want to meet to go shopping, she is late and calls exactly at the time she was supposed to meet me. On my birthday, she called me at five minutes to midnight – at the end of the day! She has also told me that she rarely meets a deadline at work and that she is also late for her client meetings.

Although I am her friend and not her consultant or coach, I think I will share with her the importance of “planning” and following “planning protocols”. Just like an athlete, she needs to focus and block out any external distractions. Her protocol needs to be practiced over and over again, so when she is under stress, she can perform as trained.

I truly believe that the simple What, How (much), Who, and By when protocol will be the solution for Betti!

  • What: What is the task she is planning to achieve?
  • How: How will she execute the task?
  • Who: Who will she rely on, other than herself, to implement the task?
  • By when: When is she planning to get started, and by when will she be finished?

Once she has internalized this protocol, she needs to do the actual step of planning! She should plan the next day the evening before, and on Friday afternoons she should be planning her next week – and of course this also applies to months as well! I need to remind her also that a plan has to be flexible; if anything unforeseen comes up, the plan needs to be adjusted to the new given realities.

I know this works with my professional clients, but I will let you know if I have been successful in coaching a friend – watch this space!

Claudia Irmer is a Results Consultant for Cohen Brown Management. Within the European Team, Claudia covers the territory of UK, continental Europe, and the Middle East.

The Time Bandit Solution book on Amazon



Pre-Order Now

Available August 12, 2014

What Type of Person Are You?

Personality type

I am a Type C person. I hear you thinking, “What is a Type C person?” Well, let me explain the three personality types as they relate to time and workflow management.

Type As believe there’s never enough time to meet deadlines.
Type Bs believe there’s always enough time to meet deadlines.
Type Cs believe there’s never enough time to achieve quality-control perfection.

So I am a Type C person. That was my conclusion last Thursday when I was preparing myself for a very important business meeting.

My day started very early, around 6 a.m., since I couldn’t sleep very well during the night. I woke up sweating and with a feeling of panic. I had a deadline, and there were lot of things I still needed to do.

As I worked, I asked myself, why do I always panic at times like this? I really wanted to understand myself better, so I started by creating awareness about what kind of person I am using the following questions:

“When are you satisfied with your performance?”      
“Do you accept less than absolute perfection?”              
“How are you organised?”                                                      
“What is the level of quality control you want to achieve?”

My answers were really illuminating, and I realized I am a perfectionist and I need to do something about my stress level.

I spoke with my husband (who is Type B), and he told me that my behaviour also affected him, making him become stressed, almost like a secondhand smoker.

We decided to address the problem by doing some relaxation exercises together every day. I must say that this has really helped me to sleep better and not panic all the time.

So what personality type are you and how are you managing your stress?

Brenda Schäfer is a Results Consultant with the Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc. covering the territory of Europe, the Middle East and Africa.