How do you manage your time as a knowledge worker?

How do you manage your time as a knowledge worker?

We live and work as knowledge workers, always connected and paid for what we can do with our minds. As I look at when I accomplish the most or do my best work, I find that it is in the evening, after 5:30, when most people have left the office or other opportunities when I have blocks of un-interrupted time.

Dallas social media speaker J.R. Atkins discusses time managementDuring the day my time is very fragmented with:

  • email communication
  • connecting with others by phone
  • reading articles to keep up with current events and trends
  • reading and posting on social media
  • mentoring and coaching members of my team
  • meeting in the hallway with other executives, shaping thoughts and practices
  • eating lunch
  • prospecting
  • meeting deadlines
  • addressing issues
  • solving problems
  • and yes, some socializing


But then the quiet time comes. In the evening and on the weekends, I get 3 or more hours in a block of time, this is when the best work occurs. As I visit with other professionals I find that I am not alone. So, what are we to do? Here are few ideas I’m working on applying.

1. Managers vs. Makers schedule – Check out this article titled: “Maker’s Schedule, Manager Schedule” by the folks at “Y Combinator”, a start up group in Silicon Valley.

This article defines the maker as someone who makes something and needs big blocks of time. Their day is divided into 3 blocks of time: breakfast to lunch, lunch to dinner, dinner till sleep. A Maker needs these big blocks of time to make something.

A Manager thrives on a fragmented day, usually divided by meeting after meeting often in one hour blocks of time. But what happens when we need to do do both?

Recommendation: Add this article to the social structure at your office and see if you can create a morning or afternoon block of “maker time” each week. During this time, there would be no meetings, no interruptions and work would get done. What would it mean to your group to add 2, 4 hour blocks of productivity each week?


2. Log out, headphones and signs – Occasionally I can reproduce a block of quiet time by logging out of email, chat and social media. I then tell my co-workers that “I’m going in” to the quiet zone. That means don’t bother me for a while. Then I put my headphones on, the noise canceling kind from Bose, and that helps. I have even gone as far as to put up sign’s that says quiet, do not disturb.

Recommendation: Invest in a set of noise canceling headphones. they will pay for themselves in productivity in no time at all. Besides, the music is great too.

3. Leave the office – Working at home or another location can also help to avoid disturbance and interruptions. I have a friend that goes to the library. It’s one of the few places in our society where everyone is suppose to be quiet yet you can still use a computer. And, they usually have free wifi. I have worked from home and Starbucks but they offer their own form of interruptions and distractions. I’m trying the library next time.

Recommendation: Check out the local library as a place to work in quiet, with out interruptions and distractions.

I look forward to hearing form you as to how you get your best work done.

June Events:

Dallas A&M Club – Aggie Business Luncheon

Social Media and Your Career @Southlake Focus Group

AAF Dallas – Optimized Media Mgmt – Determining Key Campaign Metrics

Taking the Mystery out of Google Tools for Small Business

Stretch Your Career: Networking @Times Ten Cellars

What the Heck is Sales 2.0? @ Untyed Las Colinas

DFW Start Up Weekend June 17-19, 2011

Social Media and Your Career @ Watermark Community Church


About Author


As an Author, Speaker & Consultant on Social Media, Mobile Apps, Sales & Marketing, I help individuals and companies embrace social media and mobile Apps as communication tools, then use marketing to drive results. I enjoy connecting to others using these tools to grow their business.



June 22, 2011 at 11:48 pm

Environments that are laden with meetings and structures appeal to the adaptive personality types. However, the creative types are more to the right of the spectrum, therefore structure and meetings are contrary to how their brain functions. They will always have difficulty adapting and quite honestly, should, because creativity must be unconstrained. Anything other than that is structured and controlled.This often occurs in the so-called “out of the box”,environment.

Its important to know, or at least understand, where you fit in. There are three zones, left are adaptive, right are creative or innovators, and middle are those who bridge the gap. Essentially, those who can bridge are able to manage both sides of the spectrum in terms of personality types, but do not drift too far right or left. These personalities are thought to be the “balanced managers”.

In terms of straddling the Maker’s Schedule vs the Manager Schedule, which most people have as a challenge, I believe that a separation must take place, both physically and mentally.The suggestions included in the original blog are excellent, particularly leaving the hustle environment. In a previous employment, I found that many people would actually leave their office and sit in their cars. It was their way of finding personal space, without being too far removed physically.It is another way to channel stress.

There is however another consideration that few people take advantage of; that being meditation.Learning to meditate and having the ability to put yourself “under” for varying intervals works wonders. The objective should be to clear your mind and think about nothing.Or, once proficient,getting your mind into a relaxed state and focusing on one thought. When you are in a relaxed state many things can occur. Often ideas will manifest themselves or perhaps just ONE word will come to mind.I have learned to do this in quiet settings and in a Mall.It actually works and helps you to refresh yourself and in effect trigger your reset button.

J.R. Atkins

June 23, 2011 at 2:01 am

Thank you Mike, you offer some good thoughts, especially the meditation idea.

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