Is This the Best Time Management System?

by Oct 14, 2021Success

Many time management systems focus on how to manage each hour of each day. 

A better strategy may be to focus on how you manage each week. 

Dan Sullivan, brilliant business thinker and founder of Strategic Coach, recommends having free days, buffer days and focus days. Let’s review each type. 

Focus days 

Focus days are called differently by different people: sacred time, bunker time, prime time, me time, crunch time. It doesn’t matter what you call it, as long as you understand the concept of it. 

Focus days are reserved for your most impactful, highest value, most valuable, highest paid tasks and projects. 

Whereas there are unavoidable interruptions during buffer days, focus days should be reserved for uninterrupted work. 

This includes your yearly priorities, your self-improvement (including learning or reading non-fiction), your rocks (of “Traction” fame), your MVP (Most Valuable Project as Darren Hardy would call it).

There should be no routine meetings, no phone calls, no lunch meeting. 

Plan on several 60 to 90 minute time blocks of super-focused time with no access to email, social media or phone. Darren Hardy calls these times “jam sessions.” Go to a café or hide in the library if you must. 

Michael Gerber, author of the E-Myth, would say that focus days should be to work ON your business, not “in” it. 

Of course it’s difficult not to have to put out a few fires on any given day. Don’t strive for perfection. Instead, focus on spending 80% percent of your focus day on high impact activities. 

Buffer days 

Buffer days are quite the opposite. They are reserved for all of the small, menial tasks that likely populate your never-ending to-do list. 

This can include phone calls, meetings, record keeping, appointments, Zoom calls, mail, email, catching up, organizing, cleaning up, organizing files or your desk… 

Michael Gerber would say that buffer days should be reserved for working IN your business, not “on” it.

Ideally, many of these tasks would be delegated. But some will remain on your own to-do list. 

From a strategic standpoint, buffer days should allow you to prepare so you can be even more productive during focus days. 

Free days 

And then, there are free days… That should be self-explanatory, but let’s explain anyway. 

Free days should be truly free. They are days that allow you to rejuvenate, decompress, recharge your batteries, so you can have intense, highly productive buffer and focus days. 

This means no work, no calls, no emails, no “checking in,” no business reading, no appointments. 

Dan Sullivan recommends scheduling free days first. He explains: “Instead of seeing time away from work as a reward, we see it as a necessary precondition for success.” 

Of course, this is easier said than done when you are a working practitioner, in the trenches, taking care of patients 5 days per week… 

If you like the idea, you can at least start small. 

Book a few hours each week to focus on a big project or a side business. 

One entrepreneur has a goal of having 100 focus days, 165 buffer days and 100 free days each year. 

Even if you can only carve out 1 hour each week to work on a particular project, that’s still about 50 hours each year. 

If you have a 4-day work week, do your best to use your weekday off as a focus day rather than a catchup buffer day. 

Even if you work Monday through Friday and have weekends off, that still translates into over 100 free days per year, before vacations!

Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS
Meredith Jones, DVM
Co-Founders of Veterinary Financial Summit