A New Year is Coming: Prepare to Use Time Well – Book Review

By Bob Clark
December 18, 2008

Time Power: A Proven System for Getting More Done in Less Time Than You Ever Thought Possible by Brian Tracy. Published by: AMACON Books, New York, NY, May 2007, 295 pages, $16.00.

A new year will soon be upon us. Looking ahead, this is a good time to reexamine our use or misuse of time. We’re all busy, and any tools for time management should be simple and effective. Brian Tracy has assembled a solid package of materials that can help any of us achieve real improvement.

As he begins, Tracy suggests four reasons to take better control of your time. He claims that practicing his system will help you: (a) gain two extra hours each day; (b) improve your productivity and performance; (c) increase your sense of control, and; (d) have more time for your family. It’s a stretch to say applying the book will deliver on all four, but a sincere effort on the suggested practices will certainly help you better manage your time.

One way to look at the material is to examine an internal summary. At one point, the author suggests a series of steps:
-¢ Changing the way you think -“ make a deliberate decision to manage your time better and keep a mental picture of how you would look at work if you were efficient, effective and fully productive.
-¢ Setting clear goals and objectives -“ select what is important with purpose and clarity based on your personal values and aspirations.
-¢ Plan out your work in detail -“ develop an explicit sequence of the tasks required to achieve your objectives and outline how you will attack each.
-¢ Setting clear priorities on your tasks -“ separate the urgent tasks from the important and spend the bulk of your time on the important.
-¢ Working all the time you are at work -“ engage in a single-minded effort to improve your work habits each day.
-¢ Managing multitask jobs -“ plan large or complex jobs by thinking on paper and organizing every detail before beginning.

Tracy’s work does not contain a lot of new information, but he assembles it in a readable manner. There is some pop psychology in the book, and it uses the numbered list technique a lot, e.g., the “five-best-ways” to do this or that. But once past those limitations, it provides many helpful tools.

Distilling the best advice in the book, I take away the following items:
-¢ Use some sort of planner, electronic or paper, but keep one and keep it current. The discipline of using it will help you keep focused and build good habits.
-¢ Take charge by developing lists of what needs to be done -“ daily, weekly, monthly, and longer time frames. Always prioritize the lists clearly, and always work from the list.

To some people time management efforts seem a waste. But using good planning tools and developing sound work habits will pay off by avoiding false starts and wasted effort on lesser value tasks. In this book Brian Tracy provides both encouragement and tools to help build successful time-management skills.

Bob Clark is the president of RWC Consulting LLC and has more than 30 years’ experience in labor-management relations. He provides consulting help in labor relations and is an adjunct professor at Concordia University in Ann Arbor.