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Time Blocking, the Best Time Management Method
Today we talk to Mathis Uchtmann about what the Focus Fighter Planner is, time management tips, and how Mailbutler helps him improve his workflow.
Mathis Uchtmann calls himself a ZeitStyle Coach. He’s a trainer, speaker, and coach for time management and also has a full-time job as a project manager in a software company. He created the “Focus Fighter Planner”, that supports his clients with their time management. Today we will talk to him about how he manages his time, what the Focus Fighter Planner is, and how Mailbutler helps him improve his workflow.
Hello Mathis, and thank you for taking the time to do this interview with us today! We’re looking forward to learning about you and your work as a time management coach. Let’s start with the „Fill in the blanks“ questions that we use to kick off all of our interviews.
The first thing I do in the morning is …
Sit on the edge of my bed and say with a smile „This will be a great day“. Then I brush my teeth, splash some cold water in my face to wake up, and do some work.
The best thing about my job is…
That I love it so much.
When I was a kid, I always wanted to become…
A police officer, because my big sister wanted to become one.
An important characteristic a good coach should have is…
A coach should be a good listener and should provide tangible and individual solutions.
I hope to spend my retirement…
Healthy and happy with my wife. Travelling the world and being a great grandpa.
Now let’s get some insights into your job! You’re a trainer, speaker, and coach for time management, calling yourself ZeitStyle Coach. Please tell us, how did you become a coach?
I became Head of Professional Services of a software company in 2009. I was only 27 back then and didn’t know much about leadership. So I booked an NLP-seminar to improve my communication skills (at least, that was what I thought NLP was all about). It turned out there’s so much more to the idea, and I became an NLP coach in 2011. Since then, I’ve been consistently developing my skills to help people improve their skills and life through coaching and training.
In 2005 I discovered time management through a book my uncle gave me, because I was quite near ruining my studies. With that book I started my productivity journey. The most important thing I learnt was that when I set goals and focus on my priorities, not only do I achieve those goals faster, but I’m much happier along the way.
In 2014 I combined those two threads and started my ZeitStyle Coach business as a trainer and coach for time management and personal productivity.
On your website, I read you’re not only a coach, but you also have a full-time job as a project manager at a software company. As if this wasn’t already enough, you also became a father last year! How do you juggle all of this?
With good time management.
My strongest weapon is my structure of the week. This structure contains time blocks for everything I want to do and everything I have to do. For example:
- Focus time for progress in my business
- Time with my wife
- Time with my son
- Time for sports
- Time for my main job
- Time for myself where I can do anything I want; not business or job related
- Time for planning
- Time for envisioning the future (business and private)
There are also blocks for meetings with friends and for my personal development. My weekly structure helps me to stay on top of everything and provides peace and calm, so I can keep a clear mind and not be stressed out about all the things I want and have in my life.
Time blocking is the single most important time management method everybody should use. It is so powerful and so simple to implement. Just block some time in your calendar for your highest priority task and focus only on that. Defend that time with everything you have.
For my training business I do have a time block for focus time each morning from 5-6:30 am, when the rest of the house is still asleep and on three days in the evening from 7-9 pm, when the little one is already in bed.
On Saturday and Sunday I also use our son’s nap time to get stuff done.
In total I do have around 20-25 hours for my business and that is awesome. It is so little time that I just have to focus, focus, focus to make progress and get ahead.
I always say: If you have time for distractions during your working day, your time in the office is way too long. (Search the web for „Parkinson Law“ for further reading on that topic.)
Time blocking sounds like a very useful method! One important feature that you’re working with is the “Focus Fighter Planner”. It’s a questionnaire for your clients that supports them with their time management. Would you tell us about it, please? Are you using it yourself to handle all your todos?
The Focus Fighter Planner is my daily planner with which I plan my days. It is paper based on purpose and I fill it out with all the tasks and appointments from my digital todo app and calendar.
One could say that it’s time wasting to write things twice. Well, for me it isn’t. But everybody has to test it for their own.
I discovered I’m always distracted when I look at my digital todo list, because there are so many entries. The same applies to my calendar. There were always thoughts like “I need to do that, as well“ or “Right, I need to call that person”, and “I need to do some research on that topic”, and “I should prepare for that meeting“, etc. Those thoughts were stealing my concentration. That’s why I write everything on paper and avoid looking at my todo list and calendar throughout the day.
On the planner I have my most important task for the day, as well as three other significant tasks. I plan my communication, my appointments and all the little things I have to do that day.
By the way, you can get the Focus Fighter Planner for free on zeitstylecoach.de and try it for yourself.
Writing things on paper is definitely still the preferred option for many people. How did you get the idea of developing the Focus Fighter Planner and who can benefit from it?
The Planner is mainly inspired by the daily planner of Brendon Burchard. I just tweaked it for my personal preferences and optimized it with feedback from my customers.
If you like the idea of having your whole day written down on one single page, and want to keep your focus on your highest priorities and minimize distracting thoughts, the Focus Fighter Planner could be the perfect tool for you.
This planner seems amazing! One statement of yours is “time management starts in our heads!”. What is this all about? What does it mean to you?
As I said, I discovered time management during my studies 15 years ago. Since then, I learned the hard way that it’s not the tools you’re using, but about your thoughts and the actions you take as a result of your thoughts.
I tried dozens of productivity apps and platforms. That cost me a lot of time, and in the end it was always the same result: a big disillusion.
It’s not the tools you are using. Of course, some are more fun than others and some suit your personal style and needs better. But in the end it is all about your thoughts and actions.
Get the right mindset, habits, and routines in place and you’ll be way more productive.
That’s 100% true! Is there one big mistake that almost everyone who struggles with time management makes?
In my opinion, the biggest mistake people make is that they don’t treat time as what it is: their most precious possession.
Time is the most valuable thing you have in life.
Everybody is watching their bank statements and being careful how and where to spend their money, but with time, they just don’t care – either not that much or, sometimes, not at all – which is why they’re often easily distracted.
They invest most of their time and effort in unimportant things and wonder why they’re not making any progress. The result is they’re unhappy and stressed out.
Next time you open your inbox ask yourself: Would I pay 10 euros to read this email? If not, why spend 10 or more minutes on it?
You’re giving us very insightful advice! Who are the people coming to you for advice? Is it mostly people who are overwhelmed with their time management when it comes to business or is it also people who struggle with organizing their free time?
I train and coach mostly entrepreneurs and teams/leaders/employees in organizations. The main reasons are business related.
But we are the same human beings in our business life and personal life, so most people struggle in both areas. The difference is that in free time the consequences are not that bad most of the time.
Let’s say I book a session with you. Which steps would we take to improve my time management issues?
Great question. It depends on your personal preferences, weaknesses and goals. Regardless, we would always go through the three main pillars of excellent time management:
Clarity: What do you want, and what are the right steps to get there?
Focus: How can you keep and increase your focus and minimize/eliminate distractions?
Energy: What is your personal daily performance curve? At which times do you perform best? And when are the times you’re a little bit tired and don’t have any energy? How can you keep your energy up throughout the day?
You can eliminate 9 out of 10 time management problems if you master those three pillars. In addition to this, we examine your thoughts and actions throughout the day and discuss if they’re helpful for achieving your goals.
To optimize your own time management, you’re using tools that support you. One of those tools is Mailbutler. How does Mailbutler help you improve your workflow?
Email is one of the biggest time suckers of our daily work lives. And it’s not going away: It is fast, easy to use, and cheap; why should we remove it?
Everyone needs to handle their emails as efficiently as possible, so they waste as little time on them as possible. Mailbutler helps me to achieve just that.
I love the notes functionality with which I can capture my ideas while reading an email directly within my client and not in a separate program or document. When I open the email later, the notes are still there, ready for me to act on.
The follow up reminder is also an awesome functionality. When sending emails I can set a time when I want to get a reminder. once the time comes I can check if I’ve got an answer already or write another follow up email to remind the person to send me the information, ask for the status, or do the task I delegated.
I’m using Outlook and it lacks these two essential functions, so Mailbutler is a perfect add-on.
Last question, Mathis: What is your biggest goal for 2021?
I launched a new platform for entrepreneurs and leaders who want to improve their time management and achieve their goals called Fokus Arena. It’s a 12-month training and coaching program with online training and ongoing Q&A and coaching sessions.
The Fokus Arena will be the time management platform for German speakers.
In 2021 my goal is to get at least 100 new members and serve them to a high level. So, watch this space!
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