Work smarter, not harder: ‘Workday Warrior’ is a new book about reclaiming your time

New year, new you. If time management is on your list of resolutions, the author of a new book is here to help.

For as long as Ann Gomez can remember, she has kept a hectic schedule – jumping from one activity to the next. As a management consultant, coach, and speaker, she has made a career of helping many of the world’s busiest people reclaim their time. Now, she’s sharing those strategies with a much wider audience in ‘Workday Warrior: A Proven Path to Reclaiming Your Time,‘ her second book.

John Ackermann: I’m going to start off by stealing a line from your book and that is, why do we need another book about time management?

Ann Gomez: Yeah, that’s a good question. Why? There’s a lot of great stuff out there. And the single answer is that time management is still a challenge. Too many people are too busy, overwhelmed, struggling to get through their day, feeling reactive instead of proactive, and that’s not good enough. We deserve better.

Ackermann: Now, let’s go back to what inspired you to write the book. When did you realize that you had to come up with a better, more efficient way of managing your own time?

Gomez: This this goes back 20 years ago. I was a management consultant and putting in a lot of time, a lot of effort, but not seeing the results that I wanted to see. And looking around and seeing yes, some of my colleagues were struggling with the volume, with the intensity, but others were thriving, others seem to have a much better handle on this same volume of work. And I looked at them and I said I want to be like them. That’s when I became really interested in studying productivity.

Ackermann: You argue that better time management has nothing to do with willpower, discipline or even adding more hours to the day – as impossible as that is – but a better way of managing the time we do have.

Gomez: Exactly, yeah, absolutely. Yes. Work can be easier. [In the book] I talk about let’s simplify so we can amplify. There are strategies at our disposal so we can have a bigger impact without throwing time at the problem.

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Ackermann: You identify three specific time barriers and that is too many priorities, too much flexibility, and too much complication. How do we overcome these?

Gomez: Okay, so the first thing that we all want to do is to be really clear on what are our core priorities. And when I ask people about their core priorities, I often hear a laundry list, like there’s a lot that we all want to do. But there’s great research out there that shows that when we concentrate our efforts, we can spend more time on what we value most. And so, what’s the sweet spot of how many priorities we can manage at any one time? That’s the golden question. And the answer is three. It’s not four. It’s not five. I’ve tried. I’ve tested it. It’s not eight, nine, ten. A lot of organizations out there are asking their people to do too much at the same time. A lot of driven people want to do it all now. But we can really [only] manage three core priorities. And those can be big initiatives. Like, if you are in client services, serving your clients can be one core priority. If you manage a large team, then managing that team is another core priority. Each of these core priorities has a number of activities. But we really want to be clear on what those three core priorities are.

Ackermann: The heart of the Workday Warrior approach seems to be Clarify, Fortify, and Simplify.

Gomez: So, Clarify is stop trying to do everything at the same time. Be clear on your core priorities. And in the book, we talk about a tool, a priority management tool, called your map to help manage those.

Fortify is really pay yourself first with your time or block time off for those core priorities before you give your time away to everything else, right? There are so many things vying for our time and attention. So, if we pay ourselves first, and we fortify those boundaries around what we value most, then we can be distracted and indulge to our heart’s content with the leftover time. But don’t allow those discretionary tasks to have prime billing in your day.

And, then Simplify is really about how do we scale back, streamline, and seek help so that we can move through what we’re trying to do faster? And what I find is, senior people who have really leveled up through the through the ranks in their career, they’re very good at simplifying. They don’t feel the need to analyze 98 options. They look at three options, they take advice from their team, and they make decisions fast. So, there are things that we can do to simplify our lives as well.

Ackermann: Ultimately, then, what do you hope folks get out of the book?

Gomez: I hope that they feel more in control of their day. I know they work hard. I know they have great goals. I hope they feel better about those goals, that they feel like they’re making more progress, and they feel that they’ve got this great balance so they can sleep, they can spend time with the people they love, they can indulge in their hobbies, and they don’t feel like they have to work all the time to achieve their big goals so they have the big impact and they have that balance. There’s a cynicism about work-life balance, but it is attainable. We just need to make sure that we’re applying the best of the best in terms of time management.

‘Workday Warrior: A Proven Path to Reclaiming Your Time’ is available from Dundurn Press.

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