Forum

  • If you are new to these Forums, please take a moment to register using the fields above.

Announcement

Announcement Module
Collapse
No announcement yet.

What is discretionary time?

Page Title Module
Move Remove Collapse
X
Conversation Detail Module
Collapse
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • What is discretionary time?

    David mentiones discretionary time. That's the time when you can open and consult your next actions list. But what is discretionary time? Is it a time frame when I don't have any meetings? That means that I can have such days when I have no discretionary time because scheduled too many meetings one after another? Should I limit the number of meetings to allow for discretionary time to have time for my next actions lists or block out the time for that? How do you ensure to have discretionary time?

    Regards,

    Eugene.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Borisoff View Post
    David mentiones discretionary time. That's the time when you can open and consult your next actions list. But what is discretionary time? Is it a time frame when I don't have any meetings?
    The simple answer is yes. But in fact, it goes beyond just meetings in my opinion. You may have also blocked out time for yourself to do a particular task for example - like a meeting with yourself. So I would say that discretionary time is any time that is showing up as free on your calendar where you don't have someone else or something else claiming your attention. It is time, on your own where you get to decide what you are going to do next.

    Overcommitting to, or being overcommitted to too many meetings can be a big problem. How can you get other work done if you are in meetings all day? How can you even process what actions you need to do out of the meetings you have just attended if you have back to back meetings?

    Is there an easy solution? It depends on who is setting the meetings and why you are going to them. Can you reduce the number of meetings you are attending? Who makes the decision? Can someone else go in your place etc etc?

    Paul

    Comment


    • #3
      Paul,

      I'm in sales, VIP sales. People want to see me today, now. Not tomorrow. I can try to put the meetings to other day but that could cause some problems. Do you think it's reasonable if I limit to maximum two meetings per day in such conditions. Doesn't it sound a little bit artificial? What if I did two and threre's a call from VIP customer for the third? That's where back-to-back meetings with no "free" time appears.

      Any ideas?

      Regards,
      Eugene.

      Comment


      • #4
        Discretionary vs. non-discretionary time.

        Discretionary time is a myth ;>

        Paul is correct in that discretionary time is the part of your calendar around which you've put those hard edges for meetings, appointments, and block time for must do at this time next actions.

        One of the things that David talks about with managing expectations like this is that you either change it or make it okay. In a customer service role with VIP customers you'll probably fall hard on the "make it okay" end of the spectrum on this one.

        Have you ever had two VIP customers who wanted to meet with you today at exactly the same time? What did you do then? My guess is you made a tough choice and asked one of the VIP customers (probably the one with less revenue potential or perhaps the one with which you had a better personal relationship with) if they wouldn't mind meeting at an alternate time.

        Part of GTD is figuring out what is a hard edge and what is not. Let me introduce you to a few of your VIP customers that you may not be aware of. They are worth more revenue to your company than all of your other customers combined.

        1. Mr. Inbasketry - He demands the time that he demands to get In to Empty. He is a relentless demanding customer but if you don't meet his needs its pretty likely you won't meet the needs of some of your other VIP clients as well. There are some unprocessed must complete next actions for those VIP clients in there aren't there? Depending upon your incoming volume you could spend anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours a day serving just this one customer. Usually takes me a minimum of one hour sometimes longer.

        2. Mr. Weekly Review - Less demanding than Mr. Inbasketry, but much more profitable. He is your most strategic customer. He can demand anywhere from a half hour to two hours once a week. Mr. Weekly Review will keep you sane and make certain that you deliver on or at least manage the expectations of all your other VIP clients.

        3. Mr. Block Time: Action Items - Putting 30 minutes on your calendar somewhere between once a week and once a day will give you a dedicated time to make certain that you deliver on those expectations you promised to your VIP customers. Mr. Action Items is not strictly GTD, but I find him exceptionally helpful. It ensures that I commit at least a minimum amount of time each week working on my action item list.

        So I would recommend blocking some time on your calendar for these three VIP customers. Next time a client wants to see you at a specific time open up your calendar and take a look. If your slammed solid then you will have to determine whether this customer is more important that which of the three above VIP customers you had scheduled there.

        If he wants to see you right during your 2 hour block for Weekly Review; if you have another discretionary 2 hours on the same day then suggest you call then or let him know that you have another appointment but you believe you can reschedule it. This is a good time to also add something like:

        "I appreciate that you want to schedule this right away and luckily I have enough flexibility with my schedule today. By meeting your schedule today I'd like to ask a small favor; would it be okay in the future if I asked for some flexibility from you on a future appointment?"

        This does two things. It puts value on your time and theirs and it also gives you the right to call in a future marker.

        So yes, I would avoid setting arbitrary limits on the number of VIP calls you can take in a day. But you can't avoid the non-arbitrary limits on the number of calls you can take in a day. This is all about putting hard edges around your life.

        Hope that makes sense.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Borisoff View Post
          I'm in sales, VIP sales. People want to see me today, now. Not tomorrow. I can try to put the meetings to other day but that could cause some problems. Do you think it's reasonable if I limit to maximum two meetings per day in such conditions. Doesn't it sound a little bit artificial? What if I did two and threre's a call from VIP customer for the third? That's where back-to-back meetings with no "free" time appears.
          And if you have enough days like that, entire weeks disappear. Low priority tasks don't get done, and therefore turn into emergencies. Your personal life disappears completely, as you try to keep up with the things you can't do while you are in back-to-back meetings. You fall further and further behind until the whole edifice collapses around your ears.

          Presumably, avoiding that is why you were interested in GTD in the first place.

          Obviously, you need to be responsive to your customers. Equally obviously, you can't do that if all of your time is consumed by meetings. Only you can decide where to draw the line, but recognize that it has to be drawn somewhere.

          Katherine

          Comment


          • #6
            Thankyou jpm

            Originally posted by jpm View Post
            Part of GTD is figuring out what is a hard edge and what is not. Let me introduce you to a few of your VIP customers that you may not be aware of. They are worth more revenue to your company than all of your other customers combined...
            jpm

            I'm so taken with your post I'm going to print it out and place it in my copy of "Getting Things Done".

            As you'll see from my current thread about overload through calendared tasks, http://www.davidco.com/forum/showthread.php?t=6781, I also struggle to balance the urgent against the important. Mssrs Inbasketry, Weekly Review and Block Time: Action Items should indeed be compared to VIP customers.

            Nice one

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by jpm View Post


              This is a good time to also add something like:

              "I appreciate that you want to schedule this right away and luckily I have enough flexibility with my schedule today. By meeting your schedule today I'd like to ask a small favor; would it be okay in the future if I asked for some flexibility from you on a future appointment?"
              Perhaps your clients would have a totally ok reaction to a response like this. For me, this just makes me cringe. I would just have a totally negative reaction to this. It feels like a point tracking system where you have the secret rules of the game and I don't. It feels like you're playing me.

              Just be direct and straight with me. Tell me if you can meet with me at the suggested time or not. Tell me you're unavailable at that time and suggest a time that's better for you. Tell me you have something else scheduled but you will try to reschedule the other appointment and let me know. But don't use it to reserve a future favor. Perhaps the time wasn't important enough to me to extract a future favor. And if I call you in future and you can't accommodate my schedule, you can't. I'll adjust. But don't point back to this time when you rearranged your schedule for me and try to make me feel good about it.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by WebR0ver View Post
                Perhaps your clients would have a totally ok reaction to a response like this. For me, this just makes me cringe. I would just have a totally negative reaction to this. It feels like a point tracking system where you have the secret rules of the game and I don't. It feels like you're playing me.
                Fair enough. Based on the rest of your response I probably wouldn't use it on you. You seemed reasonable enough as is and willing to take a meeting at an alternatively proposed and mutaully agreeable time.

                I just got the impression from Borisoff that we shared some similar demanding customers. The kind that demand you drop everthing else on your schedule to see them right now. Less risk of something like this with a customer who is already unreasonable. Might work, might not. They are no fun to play with anyway; and likely as not they aren't too profitable either.

                Comment


                • #9
                  On a related note, I once heard someone criticize American life as being overly held hostage by a "live to work" mindset. It's as if any free moment Americans have, we feel obligated to fill it with a "have to do." (And that then sounds like "I need a vacation from my vacation.")

                  So it was suggested then that when creating any kind of schedule to first plan the "leisure time." What do you intend to do this day for fun? Schedule that and write that out first.

                  That could serve as the discretionary time you requested.

                  It's also been noted that sometimes, great ideas come when you're specifically removed from a project. Some have said they write an idea before going to bed, then saying "Let me sleep on it." Others say after hours of concentrated focus, they actually get great insight by either taking a walk to the restroom, around the block, etc. This kind of discretionary time can be scheduled too, if you allocate it first.

                  I seem to remember one episode of The Flinstones where Fred said to Barney who was serving as a Little League coach, "The first thing they need isn't the Fundamentals, the first thing they need is the Fun!"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by QuestorTheElf View Post
                    On a related note, I once heard someone criticize American life as being overly held hostage by a "live to work" mindset. It's as if any free moment Americans have, we feel obligated to fill it with a "have to do." (And that then sounds like "I need a vacation from my vacation.")

                    So it was suggested then that when creating any kind of schedule to first plan the "leisure time." What do you intend to do this day for fun? Schedule that and write that out first.
                    Which is deliciously ironic. If we're overworked, the solution isn't more scheduling.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      So the outcome is there's no discretionary time unless we schedule it Or in other words unless we don't schedule too much

                      For me, I don't really like scheduling nowdays. I can schedule to be in the office at 9:00 and get into traffic jam. Be late and become nervous because of that. That's why I like to use "All day event" category instead of scheduling into a calendar (except for meetings with others with confirmed start time).

                      Maybe that's not very good but gives me some calmness.

                      Regards,
                      Eugene.

                      Comment

                      Working...
                      X