Sunday, February 19, 2012

Judit Szilagyi - Time Management

Dr. Judit Szilagyi

A huge thank you to two people for helping me put this blog together. First of all, of course, to Judit, who has taken time out of her extremely busy schedule to not only write this, hopefully, life changing blog for us, but also for being our expert on the Tuesday Cheeky Chat, which also could be described as entering the lions den, but shh...don't let her know :)

The other person who I would like to thank is Lidia from Lidia Steiner Illustrations. Lidia, as well as Chantelle from Kids Art have been rocks for me with the Chats and Blogs. Lidia has been there from the start and is always keen to shout out and forward her comments. Not only did she find Judit for us, but she has been the go between for us both with e mails, ideas and shout outs. In all honesty, it is Lidia who has put this whole chat together for me as I just didn't have the time or energy! She also helped me out when I had problems getting you all to put forward some questions for Judit to answer in her blog. I told her that I felt like I was pushing a cow all by myself!! LOL You may have had a little visit from the Lidia fairy last week asking you to help me out. That was all her idea, so once again. THANKS Lidia.

thank you..............

Just a quick note from me here. I just want to say thank you to everyone who has helped out with the Chats and the Blogs. From shout outs, to tweets, to comments on the blog and to all the guest bloggers who have taken time out of their very busy schedules to help us. THANK YOU. I am truly amazed, really, really amazed at what we can achieve when we all come together and help each other out. 

Introduction to Judit..........

Dr. Judit Szilágyi is a senior trainer, organizational development consultant and business coach. She worked for 8 years as a human rights lawyer, and has been dealing with organizational development and trainings since 2004. She joined the team of FranklinCovey in 2007, which is one of the biggest training and consulting companies in the world. Their mission is to enable greatness in people and organizations everywhere. Judit’s speciality is complex organizational development, which contains leadership development, personal effectiveness and execution. Helped companies like Citi Bank, Exxon Mobile, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, etc., held different types of FranklinCovey trainings both in Hungarian and in English, coaching leaders from all over the world. One of the areas she specialized in is task-, time and focusmanagement. She is a businesswoman working home-office when not on in the field.

More about FranklinCovey
More about Judit (sorry it’s in Hungarian)

over to Judit.............

Achieving a great life and work is probably more possible than ever before in the history. With the knowledge, technologies, and opportunities all around, we have more potential than any generation before. But the abundant technologies and opportunities can also distract us from our greatest goals, values and mission. We can become overwhelmed with things that don't really matter or even things that are good, but that keep us from the best in our life if we let them. It's a real war for our attention and effort. Having a great time and task management „system” developed by ourselves can help to get back the control…

Time management (as I consider it)

According to my experience and my understanding, a good time management is not about doing a lot more things within a shorter period of time. Not about being able to multitask even more, or just pressing ten more things in your day. It would make you even more stressed.
Effective and not only efficient time and task management is about focusing and acting on (your!) most important things! Focusing to the important tasks, roles, activities, rather than being driven away by the urgent or automatic tasks. So if you are good in time management you are not doing more, but doing the things which you find worthy to do.

The basis of time and task management.

But what are the most important things? The definition would be: Something is important if it helps to accomplish a goal, or express a value. So the key of handling time is to clarify your goals and values! It will help you to prioritize between, what is really important and what seem to be important!


Our lives are multifaceted. The fact is we have many roles. Roles are where life happens. It's where we build relationships, where all the activities, which are important for us go on. One person might be a mum, a designer, a spouse, a friend, a relative, a community volunteer, etc. But the trick is to keep them all in balance. Sometimes we feel our lives are fragmented because of competing roles. Our goal is a life where our most important roles are working together in a way that's meaningful and satisfying.
In order not to forget any field of your life you need to clarify values and set goals in each roles of you. Since we naturally think in roles, we can clarify them and define what to do to get the outcomes we want.

Setting goals

Before you would implement any changes in your life regarding time management, devote some time detailing your roles. For example, if one of your role is being a painter, visualize yourself in 5 or 10 years! What would it look like? How would it feel? What would I be doing? What extraordinary outcomes have I achieved? What kind of impact do I have on others? etc.

The more specific we get, the more our brains respond. We often are reticent to set very difficult, very meaningful goals for ourselves because of a sense that maybe it will be too difficult for us to achieve them. But studies show that the more specific we are about exactly what we want to achieve and the more difficult and meaningful we make the goals, something that really pushes you to, again, make sure that it's possible, but really pushes you to maximize your potential.

There is one more very important thing: Take time to discover your personal goals! Don’t let the expectations of others, the society, relatives, etc. influence you too much. According to my experience if somebody is not really committed to act toward his or her goals, it always turns out that it wasn’t the goal or the value of the given person, just copied it from somewhere....

The SMART way

At setting goals the easiest way is to use the “good old” model of SMART goal setting: A goal should be Specific! It means it is not a specific goal in my mum role: “to be a good mum”! If you do not detail what does it mean for you to be good, it will be very very hard to act toward this goal in your daily life. Measurable is the next. How do I know if I have reached that goal? Ambitious goals are easier to reach (as told before). But it should be also Realistic, otherwise you will never have success. And the last is Timing! Do you know what is the difference between a dream and the goal? The deadline! Nothing else!
If your goal is SMART, you give a deadline to it and you break it into manageable chunks, you can reach whatever you want!


Have you ever felt at the end of an exhausting day, that you did a lot, but accomplished very little? Naive question, I know, but if yes, then this was a day full of urgent but probably not very much important tasks...

If you take a look at your goals and values, actually at your priorities, you can notice that they are (still!) not urgent, “only” (!) important. Urgent things come in, flow in your life as a flood. Important, but (still) not urgent things require action, effort and planning!

Planning doesn’t mean, that you are just concerned about organizing your schedule, rather you're concerned about what's in your schedule. When you ask yourself what's most important, you get different answers, better answers, than if you're simply working to fit it all in.
As a best practice, pause and take at least 15-20 minutes each week before the week begins to plan the week ahead. Then, at the end of each day, pause and take 5-10 minutes to plan the day ahead.

Weekly planning

N.B: Before you continue, You may want to take a look at this little film clip.... 

To do your weekly planning, first take time to connect with your roles and goals, really think about them. Second, choose – as Mr Stephen R. Covey call it – the big rocks In order to find the big rocks ask yourself, "What are the one or two most important things I can do in this role this week?" As you thoughtfully consider this question, the answers you get will move you closer to the outcomes you want. For example, if one of your roles is a ceramist a big rock might be to call 3 new art galleries, where you want to sell your product. Or it might be to check your finance issues with your accountant (if it is your goal to dynamically grow business…)
Big rocks are actually your goals, which have been broken down into tiny little pieces, into manageable chunks.

Find big rocks to each of your roles every week!
It will create the balance you wished for! If you do only small steps toward your goals of your roles each week , you will fill balance and satisfaction, and can avoid pricks of conscience.

Once you have these big rocks, schedule all of them into your weekly calendar first. They are, after all, your top priorities of the week. Planning turns out to be one of the single most effective strategies you can use in order to reach any goal. In planning get very specific not only about what actions you're going to take, but about when and where you're going to take them. For example: Wednesday at 3 pm, (when my daughter is sleeping) bookkeeping in 40 minutes! If you do not find an exact place for these tasks, they will remain dreams, because you remember, they are (still) not urgent, so they do not flood, push themselves into your life!
Finally, organize the rest, the other appointments and tasks you need or want to do.

Daily planning

Of course your week will almost never go according to plan. Things come up, and you'll just need to adjust. That's why you should start every day with daily planning.
The key of daily planning is having a prioritized and realistic task list.
A prioritized task list is very much different from a “to do” list. If you start to work on a “to do” list without any consideration, you will start with the quickest, shortest, easiest tasks. Why? Because we want to make that list shorter. We want to see that we accomplished something quickly. But these tasks are never happen to be the most important ones, they are rarely in connection with your chosen priorities. You need to make choices consciously, discern between good and great things in your daily life. (It is good to clean the flat, during the kids are sleeping, but it is potentially great, to devote some time to run my business...etc.) So you need to prioritize based on importance and schedule them. By scheduling take into consideration, that there can be unforseen events during the day.


An effective time and task management is to accomplish the important things, which come from your goals and values regarding each of your roles. Plan your week with choosing the big rocks and plan your day with prioritizing your tasks! Keep in mind that you make decisions every minute of your life, do it consciously! As Benjamin Franklin put it: “Do you love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of”

Good luck!

About the content above:
My knowledge of time management is based on the book of Stephen R. Covey: The 7 habits of highly effective people and the same named training program of FranklinCovey

A HUGE thank you to Judit for putting that extremely useful blog together for us. And so quickly, I might add!

Don't forget the next Cheeky BLOG is out this coming Sunday with guest blogger Katia from Plushka's Craft

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  1. An excellent post! Thank you Dr.Szilagyi for sharing your wisdom.

  2. Thanks a lot Ali, for the shout out and huge thanks to Judit! I am surely biased, but I think this topic is really important to be able to reach our goals or our step or a better self-management, so I am really happy that we gonna have such an expert help on Tuesday! xxx

  3. Great read Ali. Certainly gets me thinking about many things.
    I look forwRd to the next chat.

  4. Interesting read - now I just need to put it into practice!

  5. As you know I'm a big fan of your blogs and this is yet another great one. Judit has answered my main question about tackling the easy tasks or the important tasks first, plus giving a lot of other good advice. Thank you! Helen

  6. Hi, The link back to the film clip is broken, is it still available? Thanks Louise

  7. Hi Louise. Sorry about that. i have added it to the actual post now :)