Book Review – Pocket Mentor: Managing Time

Managing TimeThis book was written by Melissa Raffoni, who is the founder of Professional Skills Alliance. As is the case with the pocket mentor series , there are no chapters and the content is split across a number of topical sections, each of which I have briefly reviewed below. This book has just 92 pages of content which include the main topics and a separate section with tips and tools that I have also reviewed below.

Following are the topics and a brief review of each one.


Section 1 – How to leverage your time: asses and plan

This section contain three sub-topics.

How to look at the big picture

Two questions are answered here which are:

  • What’s the value of leveraging your time?
  • Why do we do what we do?

Also the importance of looking strategically at the big picture is discussed. Time leveraging is described as spending time wisely on activities that move you closer to your goals and is differentiated from managing time which are the day to day processes used to leverage time. The first step in leveraging time is to define one’s priorities and added to that is to be clear about why you do what you do. Answering questions such as, are you using your time to accomplish what you want? Are you simply running in place?, can help with this.

How to audit your time

This section teaches us how to create a big picture of where we want to be. It starts out showing how to break down our work into goal related categories such as growth, improvement and managing people. It then moves on to outline how we can audit our time for a week. Steps on how to do this are listed and a table and chart are also provided to illustrate the process. The purpose of the audit is to identify how we actually spend our time. We can then compare it with our goals to understand whether we are spending our time on what we really should be doing.

How to develop your plan

If you’ve identified your major goals, key activities and associated tasks, then you need a plan of action. This section shows you how to create such a plan, using a time-leveraging planning tool which allows you to identify the goal, what success looks like, time required and activities needed to achieve the goal.

Section 2 – How to manage your time: implement

While the previous section focused on assessing how you use your time and putting a plan in place to leverage your time, this section is all about putting the plan into action. It has four sub-topics.

How to time-box

Time boxing is a scheduling method for blocking out your days so that time can be allocated effectively to work on one’s goals. It involves:

  • Creating a to-do list
  • Breaking the list into categories
  • Recording time spent on tasks on a weekly basis
  • Estimate time to spend on each task.

A time box tool to use with this process is provided to illustrate the process.

How to manage your time

Two pieces of advice are given here, continue to monitor and evaluate your time and delegate effectively to spend less time on low priority tasks. This is apt advice for managers and some information on how to do it is presented.

How to overcome obstacles

No matter how well we plan to use our time, there will always be obstacles to managing time effectively. Ideas for overcoming such obstacles is the focus of this section. The first step suggested is to recognize those obstacles, then deal with adverse cultures and environments that may be leading to some of the obstacles. Also dealing with disorganized working spaces is considered as important in this area. There are even seven steps suggested on how to organize your office. Two other suggestions for overcoming time wasting barriers are to confront procrastination and avoid poorly planned meetings and unnecessary travel.

How to develop good time-management skills

This is the last section of main content in the book. It deals mainly with how to manage messages. The two types of messages dealt with are phone and email messages.

Tips and tools

This aspect of the book complements the core content by providing some extra tools and tips. In this section you will find:

  • Some frequently asked questions on the subject
  • Tools for managing time such as:
    • Baseline time-management audit tool
    • Time leveraging plan tool
    • Time-box tool
    • Office space shopping list tool
    • Checklist for evaluating your schedule tool
  • There is a self-test to review the knowledge you read about in the book.
  • Extra notes and articles for you to learn from on the subject.

While this is a mini book, it’s one packed with insights and information to help managers use their time more effectively. But you don’t have to be a manager to use this book. No matter what your job role is, there is something for you in this book.


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