Gamifying Time Management

daily planner

One of my weaknesses is being too task-oriented. So, given the recent challenge of my Executive Coach, I have created a game in my planned around one-on-one meetings.

Using my planner of choice, I record in real-time how I am spending my time. Remedial tasks, like email, get a simple dash (-) by them. These tasks are necessary, but I use a task to denote that they are neutral, neither good or bad. I label them as neutral because there are better ways to achieve what these tasks do. Still, not doing them would also be a mistake because they need to be done.

Here is where the game begins. To earn a (+), a one-on-one human interaction must occur. This can range from a one-on-one phone call or skype, to a personal meeting, or even a group meeting.

The latter might surprise, but think about it, meetings are where leaders actually lead! So instead of dreading the next meeting, maybe you should record it with a (+) in your planner?

The rationale behind the (+) activities is that leadership is about being someone worth following. My argument is that you cannot do this behind the screen, or only doing other simple, yet often necessary, tasks, like budgeting and planning. Thus, gamifying time management has helped me shift towards scheduling more (+) events in my day. I have been spending more time in one-on-one meetings than I used to, and that has led to some creative conversations with direct reports that, quite frankly, were unanticipated.

Further, the (+) mindset has helped me when other team-members have dropped in to my office unannounced to talk about an issue. I used to find such occurrences somewhat annoying because I am so tasked-oriented (this annoyance would also make me feel guilty for feeling guilty in the first place because I know such occurrences are part of leadership). Now, however, I am thankful for the interruption because such occurrence is another (+) in the notebook. Score!

You may be wondering how you win this game? The simple answer is that it is an infinite game that cannot be won. But, and this is key, the game gifts you the ability to look at your day in hindsight with the knowledge that you spent it well.

Isn’t that what we are all after in the end?