How to Stop Being Busy and Better Manage Time Commitments

In Chapter 12 of 15 in his 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, business and personal coach Garren Katz answers "How Are You Learning to Better Manage Your Time and Commitments?"  Katz shares how he has worked to change his behavior over time.  He finds himself in an "always busy" mode focused on minutiae and avoiding what was important.  He learns to clear out the busy work and focus on priorities that provide the greatest benefit for his energy. 

Garren Katz is a business and personal coach based in State College, PA and advises his national client base on small business management, entrepreneurship, relationships, and personal finances.  He is also an active angel investor in several business ventures.  He earned his BA from Western Michigan University. 


Erik Michielsen: How are you learning to better manage your time and commitments? 

Garren Katz: That’s making the assumption that I am learning to manage my time and commitments better. I would say I used to make myself extremely busy, which I never realized what I was, in essence, doing, was doing a fantastic job of avoiding, avoiding what truly is important, or what I deem is important, the priority that I’ve made it. When you clear out the busy-ness and it’s amazing when you actually look at how you spend your time or when I would look—speaking specifically for myself, how I would spend my time, a great deal of my time was spent working on things that really weren’t significant, just busy work, you know, the difference between, you know, being in action and being active. I’m more focused now on what my priorities are and that’s made making time commitments actually much easier because I’m taking on less. 

Erik Michielsen: And what were those priorities before and what are those priorities now?

Garren Katz: The priorities before were, you know, the squeaky hinge, whatever happened to be in front of me, that’s what I would take on, or whatever popped into my head. Now, taking a moment and pausing, and really thinking: what is the benefit of this action? Is this necessary? Could my time be better spent dedicated to something else? Whether it’s a 5-minute project or a week-long activity, where would I benefit the most—where would my partner and I benefit the most? Where should my energy go? That’s how—that’s the decision making process I go through now— not always, of course, but that’s what I go through now whereas before it was whatever the flavor of the week was, whatever the flavor of the moment was, chasing as opposed to really having a focus.