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MVP Corner: You Can Make Money, but You Can't Make Time

A Microsoft MVP offer his 10 tips for helping you dispatch the time goblins and get more done in less time.

s an MVP, you are always busy. Even though that is a high-quality problem, it is still a problem. In the past month, I have flown in twelve airplanes, driven seven rental cars, delivered seven talks, written three articles, finished one chapter for a book I am co-authoring, and a number of other things. On top of that I receive hundreds of e-mails a day, my IM list has 50+ people online at any given time. And I don't think I am atypical of anyone else in my shoes, and there are plenty of us out there.

Clearly, I had to do something to manage my time better, so I came up with the following 10 tenets.

  1. IM: Remove all lonely hearts from your IM list. Folks who want to have a long discussion about current affairs with nothing new to add do not belong on your IM list. IM conversations should rarely exceed 60 seconds.
  2. E-mail: Use Outlook Rules to organize your e-mail, tasks, and never, I repeat, NEVER send meeting appointments as e-mails. Also, use categorization (new in Outlook 12), and flags on your Outlook items to keep your life organized.
  3. In the Office, Use SharePoint: WSS is free with Windows 2003. And out of the box, it gives you a fantastic and easy-to-setup and use Web site, where you can use fantastic collaboration features and user-definable alerts.
  4. Voicemails and Phones: Respect what you are doing right now, over a cell phone caller who rudely demands your attention this very minute. Look at caller id; let him leave a voicemail if it isn't clearly urgent. But check and act upon the voicemail immediately after you receive it.
  5. Get Rid of that Television: The biggest time wasting invention by mankind is the television. I cannot imagine anything worse than sitting in a dark room out of sunlight immersed in a zero-value story that you have no contribution in. It only feeds to your escapism; get rid of it. (Editor: At the very least, limit your TV viewing but keep it for tenet 6.)
  6. Buy a DVR: Well, I understand many of you will need a nicotine patch to get rid of the TV addiction. So buy a DVR and skip over the advertisements. You will be amazed at the amount of time you save.
  7. Spend Money on What Saves You Time: Never skimp on tools. Buy a satellite radio for your car if you must keep updated with the financial markets. This saves you time watching that very same information on TV at a possibly more productive time at home or work.
  8. Be Single-Threaded: You can learn from the new generation on both what to do, and what not to do. The new generation has been using silicon-based products since they were 12 inches tall. Yet listening to your iPOD, while watching TV, talking on the cell phone, and doing your homework at the same time, will lead to very sloppy work, spotty knowledge, and a generation of unintelligible, uneducatable, highly unproductive, and dangerous driver zombies.
  9. Know When to Say No: There will always be more things to do than there you'll have time for. It is okay to turn down work because of other competing priorities, many of which may not have anything to do with work.
  10. Waste Time: Take some time to unwind. Know when to say No to your work, and go back to your loved ones (even if that may be your TV). Never skip on sleep, never overdose on caffeine, and every now and then remember to stand out in the sunshine, close your eyes and hear the birds chirp. But get back to work right after that.
I hope you find these points and this issue of CoDe Magazine useful. As always, I am anxious to hear any recommendations or ideas you may have on these lines.

Sahil Malik Sahil Malik is a Microsoft MVP, INETA speaker, a .NET author, consultant and trainer, and a well-rounded overweight geek. He has a passion for SharePoint 2007, data access, and application architecture. Sahil loves interacting with fellow geeks in real time. His talks are full of humor and practical nuggets. His talks tend to be highly charged, fast moving, and highly interactive. Be sure to check out his blog.
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