Episode 171:

For most people, especially the creative types that tend to inhabit the agency world, time management is a hodgepodge of post-it notes, paper to-do lists, and several online tools – all used haphazardly and resulting in missed deadlines, meetings and a sense of being overwhelmed.

I know for me time management has been a series of constant improvements. While I am 95% happy with the system I have today, I always wonder if I could get little more efficient. I remember when I was first starting out in agency life and had no sense of when to walk away from the to-do list. I felt this sense of obligation to stay until the work was done. My problem, everyone’s problem: the work is never done.

So, being productive when you need to be is an agency imperative. That’s why I was looking forward to talking to Jon Denn. Jon is a creative person and has also done a ton of neuroscience research to understand that—guess what—one size does not fit all when it comes to time management tools and strategies.

In this episode, I ask Jon to share insights from his research and provide some perspective. He is a huge proponent of testing or experimentation. So, you can take his basic framework—3 hours of your day broken into chunks that correspond basically with how much mental energy they require—and test it out. He suggests 90 minutes for deep thinking, but quickly acknowledges that 45 or 60 minutes might work best for you. What time of the day are you at your peak? Use that time for your deep thought projects.

Here’s some good news – there’s are reasons why we work at odd hours. I don’t adhere to a strict 9-5 schedule and neither do most agency owners I know. Jon’s time management framework is at once freeing and very focusing.

Jon is the Chief Thinking Officer of Drumbeat Productivity. His background includes serving as a Hotel Chain CEO. Jon ran an adaptive leadership program for 12 years, and is a publisher, entrepreneur, and has been a Vistage CEO Coach and Group Chair since 2014.



What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • How to do small tests to understand when and where your most productive time can be focused
  • How to take control the parts of your schedule that matter most
  • The difference between doing meetings and idea meetings, and how to manage both
  • Why dividing tasks into groups based on the mental energy they require is much more efficient than the traditional “buckets” of work, home, etc.
  • How dividing time into 90-minute (deep thought), 60-minute (complex communication), and 30-minute (quick to-do) blocks is so efficient
  • Why you shouldn’t force a fit with time management tools
  • How to find the time management tools and processes that work for you
  • Setting up office-wide “don’t distract me” hours, and then other times to just be social together

The Golden Nuggets:

“There are doing meetings and there are idea meetings. Doing meetings should be held in organized spaces. Idea meetings should be held in more playful, even messy spaces.” – Jon Denn Click To Tweet “Don’t just jump headfirst into a new time management system. Do small tests. Add and adjust, and soon, you would have implemented a version that works for you.” – Jon Denn Click To Tweet “A 3-hour productivity block is divided into 3 parts: 90 minutes for deep thought, 60 minutes for complex communication, and 30 minutes to knock out quick to-dos.” – Jon Denn Click To Tweet “Finding a ‘third place’ that is not home and not the office has become an increasingly popular way to get undistracted time. Just leave your phone in the car!” – Jon Denn Click To Tweet

Subscribe to Build A Better Agency!

Itunes Logo          Stitcher button

Ways to contact Jon Denn: