4 Tricks to be more effective

This is post 2 of 2 about how I get things done, now the practical side. In my previous  post (My Wife, My Daughter, My IESE MBA) I shared how lucky I am with my support system enabling me to succeed.  However I promised some practical tricks that I use to remain effective. So here they are: Focus, Trade-offs, Lists and Time management.

Trick #1 – Focus

The most important thing in my opinion is focus. The IESE MBA can take any person off his track. It exposes you to so many different career paths that you can easily lose focus. The case method is so contagious that it will make you want to do any profession that you are discussing. During marketing I felt like going in to marketing, during other cases I felt like going into whatever business we were discussing. On top of that, there are the banking interviews, the consulting interviews and the industry career forums. These are all amazing events that a really great, however they can get you sucked in to the general pursuit of opportunities in these areas. This is great if you want to do consulting, banking or industry. However, from the beginning I have made the choice not to pursue banking or consulting which has  saved me from a lot of stress. I’ve only pursued specific industry events. Then I made the choice to pursue only my startup which has made me focus even more. Also I’ve not been a part of many competitions or events. For example, IESE has an amazing conference called Doing Good Doing Well (DGDW) which I sacrificed to be focused on the IESE Meets The Valley project. It’s all about setting a goal and then executing without mercy, without getting side-tracked. This will free up time to spend towards your goal. In my case  my focus is (besides family): IESE Meets The Valley and my start-up. This actually contradicts the above, there are 2 things. This is because I’ve decided to speed up my start-up because I want to have something to show when I go to Silicon Valley in June.

Trick #2 Trade-offs

During the global economics course we’ve been taught that there is always a tradeoff. Personally, I consider this to be 100% true. I focus on my family and study. So I have no time to go out and visit every edition of the famous BOW (Bar Of the Week), or many of the other club initiatives. Also I haven’t done a lot of  sports since the MBA started. Then there are the amazing opportunities of events, competitions and IESE club activities that I am not attending. These trade-offs aren’t bad, as long as you are conscious about them and don’t regret them.

Trick #3 – lists

A third trick I can advise anyone is to make lists… of everything you need to remember. My main list is my to do system. I’ve seen and tried many of them so I won’t elaborate on the ones I’ve seen or tell you which one you should use. The most important thing is that you write down (paper or pda) what you need to do and then do it. Also I make lists of things I need to discuss with people. I love crossing off things I’ve done. Find a system that work for you and then stick to it for at least 6 months before you discard it. My to do system is one I’ve adapted (with permission) from a Cap Gemini Principal. It lists tasks in categories on an A4 page. On the back I have added 4 slots for things I need to remember to discuss with people during upcoming meetings. I always carry it with me everywhere. I love the sensation of crossing off things from my list.

Trick #4 – Time management

The final trick I want to share is time management. You can probably find tons of posts on this but let me just share the way I manage my time. I compartmentalize time, in blocks. I plan blocks of time for productivity, for family time, reflection and to waste. I then execute tasks on my list in these blocks in order of highest priority to lowest. You said you plan time to waste?, yes to waste!  For me it is important to spend time browsing the web, taking long showers, walking, watching a TV series etc. It helps me “unload” some of the stress and disconnect. Again my wife is amazing as she helps me work this way and respects my “working time”. Whenever I find myself with an unexpected slot of free time, I use my list to work on things. An unexpected hour can be used very well for those small things on your list.

The above works for me, it might not for you. But the main point is that you think and develop habits that work for you. Hope these tricks help you a little as you move through your personal and professional life.