The author of two Amazon best-selling books, Helene has been the featured productivity expert in more than 100 media interviews in publications, such as Inc. and Money Magazine, and on Fox, CBS, ABC, and NBC affiliates.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, she earned her bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University and her master’s degree from the University of Texas at San Antonio. For details about her books, consulting, webinars, and speaking, visit helenesegura.com.
Hi Helene, thanks so much for stopping by our blog. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
By day, I present keynotes and trainings as The Inefficiency Assassin™ and teach audiences and clients about how to slay wasted time. By night (and on weekends), I’m a devout cheese eater, a recipe experimenter, and a travel junkie. If you blink, you might miss me sneaking adult beverages onto the petanque court. Did I mention that I love books and movies about spies?
How and when did you become interested in time management and productivity?
When I was growing up, the attorneys on the television series, L.A. Law, were viewed as successful and enviable, but I noticed that they had no personal life. I saw my own father struggle with trying to climb the corporate ladder and provide for his family, while finding time to stay married and spend time with his kids.
In college, I did not initially adapt so well to juggling classes, studying, playing soccer (sorry, football), and going out with friends. I had to figure out that dilemma in a hurry in order to remain enrolled in school.
When I graduated and became a teacher, I watched my students in a Title I school struggle with the same balancing act. How and where do you squeeze in study time when you don’t get home from band practice until 8:00 at night and have to share a room with four brothers and sisters?
Life experiences and the introduction of neuroscience and educational psychology in grad school got me interested in teaching time management to my students and - after I started my own company - my clients.
Your latest book, The Inefficiency Assassin: Time Management Tactics for Working Smarter, Not Longer is coming out next month. Could you tell us a little bit about it?
Go-getters are busy going and getting – and piling up an endless list of tasks that doesn’t seem to diminish even after working nearly 'round the clock.
Busy professionals who find out that my speciality is time management tell me this is what they need in a book:
- “I’m struggling with time management, so that means I don’t have a lot of time. I need to be able to read one chapter in one sitting.”
- “If I want to learn more, I’d like the option of digging a little deeper, but I don’t want to have to look too hard to find that information.”
- “I want to be able to open up the table of contents and flip to the chapter I need to solve that day’s problem.”
- “I don’t need statistics and research. I just need you to tell me what I need to do.”
They asked, and now the world shall receive! Turn to-do into ta-done!
This book is exactly what professionals-on-the-go and entrepreneurs need!
This time management book addresses and solves every known productivity road block known to man… and woman. Readers who implement the strategies and tactics in this guide will never have an issue with time management again.
Period. Ever. The end.
There are thousands of books out there about time management and productivity – what makes The Inefficiency Assassin different from the rest?
Many of the books on the market are perfect for the analytical, detail-oriented individual who understands systems and procedures. The problem is, there’s a large part of the population who doesn’t fit that mold. The books also tell you what you need to do, but they don’t explain how to do it.
My book is different because 1) it acknowledges the different brain types, personalities and work styles out there; 2) it explains how to implement the strategies and tactics; 3) there are even sample scripts so that you know what to say to people who are standing in your way of improved time management; and 4) the chapters are written in short enough chunks so that you can browse each one during a brief sitting.
Are you working on any new projects at the moment or what’s next for you?
I’ve just completed a webinar series containing the same modules as in my book, so for folks who don’t feel like reading, they can watch or listen to the webinars. I have some notes started for my next book, but before I jump into that, I want to enjoy this accomplishment for a bit of getting published by New World Library. If we don’t take the time to celebrate, life just becomes a confusing blur.
What’s your most effective time management tool - the one you rely on the most - and why?
I rely on my calendar. I capture commitments and meetings on there. On Fridays, I schedule project time and task time on my calendar for the upcoming week. My calendar is my world, and it allows me to have an abundance of free time outside of work.
In your work as a productivity coach, what are the most common time management problems you come across in individuals and across organisations?
With individuals, the most common problem goes back to not investing time in planning. With organizations and companies, it’s skipping the planning time, plus not communicating the variables, deliverables, and expectations to everyone involved on the team.
What are your own worst time wasting activities and what are you doing about them?
I’ve learned that wasting time during the work day is taking revenue out of my pocket and will also take free time away from me if I have to give up personal time to get work done, so I rarely do it. But, like all humans, I want to put off tasks that are boring. I’m tempted to just piddle around on something else. (That’s a form of procrastination, boys and girls!) I have to play mind games with myself to get past them. Example: I can’t check email until I finish this 30-minute task. Or, I can’t break for lunch until I make this unpleasant phone call.
What is the very first thing you do when helping individuals or organisations with their time management?
After giving a brief overview of my time management framework so that they’ll understand why I’m about to ask them what may seem like off-the-wall questions, we assess their situation in order to determine what their biggest pain points and challenges are. Where are they losing time? Once we figure that out, we can plan for how we’re going to implement the solutions. For some clients, we just need to skim the surface of my framework and build on what they’ve already been successful with. For other clients, we need to revisit certain modules and spend some time role playing so they can get used to taking back control and telling their time what to do.
What is the one simplest action people can take right now to improve their effectiveness and become more organised?
The simplest action people can take is to pause when something new is put in front of them. We tend to jump and complete whatever happens to land in our lap, even though it may not be a high priority. Instead, pause and ask yourself if this is a true emergency that needs to get completed now, a priority that can be finished later today, or something low priority that can be scheduled for next week or next month. That simple pause is the difference between getting important work done… or spinning your wheels.
Finally, are there any other time management tips that you would like to share with our readers?
Read my book! Seriously. That will solve every known productivity challenge! While you’re waiting for the book to arrive, choose the top three high-value tasks you absolutely must get done tomorrow, and schedule time for them on your calendar. If you don’t make an appointment with yourself to work on them, they most likely won’t get done.
Helene, thank you for stopping by our blog today and taking the time to share your thoughts on effective time management and productivity.
Helene's book, The Inefficiency Assassin: Time Management Tactics for Working Smarter, Not Longer is published on 21 April, 2016. If you'd like to have a look and pre-order your copy, you can do so here. And, if you'd like to connect with Helene, make sure to say hello on Twitter at @LivingOrderSA.