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Dave Crenshaw – “Schedule what you can schedule.”

Dave Crenshaw helps business owners triumph over chaos. He has appeared in Time magazine, Forbes, the Washington Post, and the BBC News. His first book, The Myth of Multitasking: How ‘Doing It All’ Gets Nothing Done, has been published in six languages and is a time management best seller. His latest book, The Focused Business: How Entrepreneurs Can Triumph Over Chaos, is also a small business best seller. As an author, speaker, and business coach, Dave has transformed thousands of businesses worldwide.


1. Why does efficient time management make sense?

Crenshaw: “Without efficient time management, you will be trying to live the myth of multitasking. You’ll attempt to do multiple things at the same time to meet deadlines and finish tasks. This makes you lose time and become less productive. Everytime you multitask, you incur switching cost. Switching cost usually refers to the cost in time and money of switching from one provider to another. In the case of multitasking, people feel they are doing multiple things at the same time, but they are not. The brain is incapable of focusing on multiple tasks at the same time. When people attempt to multitask, what they are really doing is switching rapidly back and forth between tasks. This is why I prefer to refer to multitasking as switchtasking. It is these switches that cause people to lose time. In this way, switchtasking causes us to be exponentially less productive.”

2. What is the biggest mistake impeding efficient time management?

Crenshaw: “There are only sixty minutes in an hour. There are only twenty-four hours in a day. This simplistic statement is something we know academically, yet fight against in practice. Most try to fight the Truth of Time every day. Some fight it every hour. People schedule more activities in their day that they become time bankrupt, because they are constantly overspending time and playing a catch-up game.

Another problem I see is people are addicted to the “Culture of Now". They have a desire to be constantly accessible. They feel if they are always available, it shows others they are working hard and putting the customer first. This creates a nightmare of multitasking because you’re trying to handle multiple things simultaneously. Instead, they can transition to a Culture of When. You begin simply by asking “when” questions, such as “when do you want me to get this to you”. “When is the latest you need this report?” “When can we meet?” “This is when I’m going to return your call, is that okay?” These kinds of “when” questions help people more appropriately set priorities in their day and figure out exactly how much time they really have available. See: for more.”

3. Where should I begin, if I want to keep my appointments better?

Crenshaw: “A. Use a calendar. This may seem a ridiculously obvious suggestion. The truth is most people attempt to schedule tasks and appointments in their mind. This results in missed appointments, stress, confusion, and over-scheduling. Not using a calendar is a bit like trying to use a credit card for your time.

B. Under spend time. Make sure that all of your appointments are not back to back. Give yourself breathing room of 15 or 30 minutes; sometimes even an hour. If you find yourself unable to leave these gaps in your schedule, then push things off. Procrastinate as much as possible the things that are not necessary in the moment. Doing this will leave you the room to handle the unexpected.

C. Be at peace with the truth of time. There are only sixty minutes in an hour. There are only twenty-four hours in a day. This is a matter of you being truthful with yourself. While you are likely capable of doing anything you put your mind to doing, you are not capable of doing it all at once.”

4. What are the basics for meeting all my deadlines?

Crenshaw: “In my system, there is no prioritization, only the calendar. Procrastination is your friend, if used properly. See for a thorough explanation. When you are processing through something like your email inbox, if something can be done in 5 minutes or less, do it now. If it will take longer than 15 minutes, put it on your calendar, pushing it off as far as is reasonable. If it can be done between 5 and 15 minutes, you can put it to a task reminder list with due dates, again, pushing it off—procrastinating—as far as is reasonable. “Reasonable” in my world is not the due date, but maybe a day or two before. In this way, you leave room in your calendar for more immediate, pressing needs.”

5. How can I strengthen my willpower to follow my plans?

Crenshaw: “Conditioning is more important than willpower. Conditioning built over time through repetition, means that we give a consistent response in certain situations. For instance, when an e-mail comes in, do you have a consistent response to it? When someone hands you a business card, what is your set of responses that you have developed over time?

You shouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel every time an e-mail comes in. You shouldn’t have to come up with a new system or strategy every time a phone call comes in. It should be consistent and automatic so that you can focus 100% on the person that’s talking to you. In my opinion, this kind of conditioning only comes through training in correct priniciples and repetition with the help of a coach.”

6. What can I do if others complicate my own time management?

Crenshaw: “A knowledge of truth changes behavior faster than talking about behavior. In other words, they need to measure, first hand, the cost of all the switchtasking and see it for themselves. I know of no better way to do that than a) have them go through my multitasking exercise and b) read The Myth of Multitasking. I created those for that one purpose: to convince the unconvinced that multitasking is harmful.”

7. Which examples provide orientation for efficient time management?

Crenshaw: “Think about activities that you perform regularly. If you can schedule them together to reduce switching cost, the better. Don’t schedule your day completely full. Otherwise you leave no room for inevitable interruptions, which will create more switching cost. The more likely you are to be interrupted, the less you should be scheduling in your day. Emergency-based jobs, front desk positions and similar employees should only try to work on one or two major projects in a single day. Take control over technology. Your cell phone ringer (even on vibrate) doesn’t need to be on all the time. You can turn off email notification on your computer as well. Become master over the nagging beeps and buzzes by creating some silence. Schedule what you can schedule. Set regular times in the day and week to check your voicemail and email. Let others know you will be using that schedule so they know when to expect a reply. Focus on the person – When you switchtask with a computer, you simply lose efficiency. But if you switchtask on a human being, you additionally damage a relationship. Be present, listen carefully, and make sure everything has been taken care of before moving on.”

8. What is the difference between time management in private life and in professional life?

Crenshaw: “There is no difference, in my opinion. Efficiency in one area, or lack thereof, will have a spillover effect in the other.”

9. What personal price do I have to pay for more efficiency?

Crenshaw: “You will need to commit to using a system and perhaps change old habits. If you need assistance developing new habits, you may want to make the investment of hiring a coach to help you change.”

10. What success does a better time management yield?

Crenshaw: “1. You will get more work done, faster. 2. You will make less mistakes. 3. You will experience a decrease in stress. 4. The quality of your relationships will improve.”

Further information:

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