Monthly Archives: July 2014

Tommy Wants-to-Please: Recognize this guy?

tommyshootinggalleryThe phone rings and Tommy answers it, ready to respond to any request.  An email alert pops up on his screen and Tommy clicks on it and types away his response.  Text messages get returned in seconds.

Like a mechanical bear in a shooting gallery, Tommy responds to every command.  He is a solid citizen of our Interruption Culture. Do you recognize this guy?

jpegRead more in The Time Bandit Solution book:

Stop Asking, Who Knows Where the Time Goes? An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Focus.

The following is a reprint of the original article which appeared in Entrepreneur Magazine on July 22, 2014

by Edward G. Brown

time management, interruptions, distractions, work

Singer and songwriter Judy Collins asked the question rhetorically: Who knows where the time goes? But the issue raised by the refrain hits close to home for today’s entrepreneurs.

Someone running his or her own business could be seen a manifestation of knowing exactly what he or she wants to achieve. So it’s remarkable how many entrepreneurs voice the same complaint and frustration: “There goes another day when I didn’t get to the big stuff. I had a plan and by mid-morning I was off track and never got back on.”

But the problem arises not because these leaders are bad planners. It’s because they are great entrepreneurs. People who are talented at juggling lots of ideas and problems tend to see interruptions as just another thing to juggle.

Those entrepreneurs who are essential to the smooth workings of a business often believe that work would grind to a halt if they didn’t make themselves available for interruptions. As a result they tend to see interruptions as something that they should accommodate, no matter when and where. They think, It will just take a minute, then I’ll get back to my own priorities.

But interruptions are not benign and don’t just take a minute. If entrepreneurs don’t guard against them, interruptions can wipe out three to five hours of a workday, every day.

Consider one of the most common interruptions that entrepreneurs deal with on a daily basis: unplanned questions from key employees.

Imagine an entrepreneur immersed in deep concentration on a priority, say, fine-tuning a big proposal due that very day whose acceptance could be pivotal for the company’s third and fourth quarters. An interruption pops up, just a quick one: The head of marketing wants to share some prime results from the last campaign. And why not? She deserves the recognition.

So the entrepreneur does a quick review of the numbers, dispenses compliments and makes a note to follow up with congratulations to the team the next day and investigate further exactly what worked.

Now he can go back to his proposal. That only took five minutes. It’s no problem, right? Wrong. Just as the marketing chief had walked in, the entrepreneur had just concluded that his proposal provided several different descriptions of the solution, and he wanted to highlight the best one and ask for the others to conform. Now he must go back and reread those sections and decide which one was the keeper.

He isn’t irritated with the marketing chief but finds himself irritated with the situation. He doesn’t like doing the same thing twice and his opinion about the keeper had been fresher and better before. Now he has lost the context so he is not sure. But this proposal is too important to guess about, so he restarts reviewing the proposal from the beginning, but with less energy and enjoyment than he brought to the task the first time.

A glance at the clock confirms that all this rereading has used up the time he wanted to spend on the all-important pricing section to reconfirm some of the underlying assumptions. He runs a couple of calculations. In the end he realizes that he has to trust his sales manager’s numbers, so he hands it off for finalizing just in time to meet the deadline.

On the way home, he figures out that the proposal’s pricing was wrong. He calls his sales manager, asks him to call the prospect and rescind the proposal. He and the sales manager spend a couple of hours reworking the numbers.

He’s late to dinner, the kids are in bed, the sales manager is embarrassed and the prospect is unimpressed.

So tolerating interruptions is not necessarily the hallmark of a successful entrepreneur. Simultaneously handling multiple demands is not good for the health of the company — only for its demise. To be successful entrepreneurs must learn how to handle those who would interrupt them and not allow their time to be stolen. This should tackled not by discourteously dismissing an interrupter but by learning how to make it in that employee’s interest to let the entrepreneur work uninterrupted when necessary.

logo-w-bookRecover stolen time lost to interruptions with articles and exercises from The Time Bandit Solution book.  Available at  Order your copy today.



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Meet Tommy Wants-to-Please


Meet Tommy Wants-to-Please. He plays a starring role in today’s Interruption Culture. He’s also a lead character in The Time Bandit Solution book.

jpegTommy is a mid-level manager at a bank, but he could be any employee in any industry. Tommy’s most recognizable characteristic is that he is a highly reactive, time-management slave. Tommy wants to please everyone at every hour of the day, reacting to any hint that somebody needs or wants something from him…Sound like anyone you know?

Spring INTO Forward

By Cindy Griffith

action plan, priorities

Spring is always very hectic for me as I try to repair the damage that occurs to a house due to a hard winter.

During the winter, I made a general list of things to do come spring, allowing me to step into action as the weather improves.  Each weekend I select one item on my general list and work on it, but I never seem to get all my “regular” work done.

So, on Friday night I made a detailed list for Saturday, and I prioritized it.

1)    Take recycle items to center

2)    Wash car

3)    Sweep and wash garage floor

4)    Sand rust off of basketball pole

5)    Paint basketball pole

6)    Mow

7)    Go to Home Improvement Store

  1. Look at storm doors
  2. Match paint
  3. Brush cleaner

8)    Go to Grocery

  1. Fish
  2. Pineapple
  3. Grapes
  4. Coffee creamer

It took 13 hours, but I got it all done. I felt…not exhausted but a sense of accomplishment, successful.

Then I thought, how can I transfer this approach to my job? And I came up with the following:

1)    Create an action plan the night before your workday so you can tackle your to-do list with fresh enthusiasm.

2)    Include daily tasks as well as special projects

3)    Make sure your action plan is detailed (include what you will do, how much or how you will do it, and by when)

4)    Make sure it is prioritized  – try to tackle the hardest tasks first when you have the most energy

Now, what shall I add to my list for next weekend?

Cynthia Whitmer Griffith currently serves as Performance Results Network Results Consultant for Community Banks and Credit Unions at Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc. Cynthia works with clients to assist them in establishing and growing a culture of World-Standard sales and service.


logo-w-book“The Time Bandit Solution” is a step-by-step book that teaches you how to recover 3-5 hours each day, otherwise stolen by Time Bandits.

Pre-order your copy today.