Interview with Shirley Fine Lee

Shirley Fine LeeWhat projects are you involved in?

My personal “big” projects have been my three management books. Now I have started my fourth. This new one will be an introduction to team-building, which should go with OPIE Project Planning and Implementation for Teams. Other projects I am working on are for my customers.

How did you get interested in productivity?

Even as a kid, I was a bit of an organization nut. Expanding that into time, meeting, and project management once in the corporate world came pretty naturally to me. I read everything I could get a hold of on the subjects to personally improve. Then I began teaching others through both leadership roles and as an instructor in training classrooms.

How many meetings do you normally have each week?

When I was in the corporate world, I had two regular team meetings per week and several “as needed” business meetings. Because of my training background, I was often asked to facilitate those meetings and asked to teach other teams how to improve their meetings. Most of what I taught those teams is in my book R.A!R.A! a Meeting Wizard’s Approach and in the many meeting management articles I have written.

Now, I do not have regular meetings as I only plan meetings with or facilitation for customers when they want. More and more the business meetings I am involved in are becoming technology based rather than face-to-face, so they are often shorter and do not require as much travel. My book covers planning any type of meeting and I wrote several articles specifically on virtual meetings last year.

What are some of your favorite productivity tips/apps?

I think the best time management tip is to “write it down.” Whether you do that on a sheet of paper or in some device is up to you. The important thing is to capture actions and ideas so they do not get forgotten. There are many more tips in my book T.A.P.P. Steps in Time Management related to tasks, appointments, priorities, and working with other people.

As far as apps go, I think that is a personal choice. I primarily use my phone and Outlook. I believe people need tools they can and will use. If you find a good app, then please share it as a possible improvement but do not push it on others as they may have a different preference for managing their time and projects that works equally well for them. I like to test new tools so I get application suggestions often. If they offer a free trial, I try them out and if I think it is something people might find useful, I might put a post about it on my blog, To Be Productive.

What’s the most recent adjustment that you’ve made to your personal productivity routine?

I still use the same tools I have used to manage my time for years. Fortunately the tools keep improving, so I just have to learn the new functions that I might want to add to what I already do. However, much of my time requires interfacing with others. So the most recent adjustment was to set appointment reminders for further out and more frequently to insure nothing is missed.

Do you measure your productivity? If so, how do you do it, and what is your metric?

When I talk or write about time management, I stress goals and priorities as the best way to decide what is important. Set your highest priorities to meet your most important goals. Then use your priorities to determine what tasks you must do each day. If you are working on the highest priorities each day then you are being most productive. If you are doing low priority items, then you may never reach your goals. If you have a big goal, then use project management to break it into little tasks you can do at a set time each day and determine your milestones you want to move towards each week or month. To keep momentum and motivation going, plan little rewards for milestone completion and a celebration for project completion.

What do you think the next productivity trend will be?

I try to keep up with what is happening in both productivity and project management trends. There are so many tools and techniques out there that it requires people sharing what they learn about in order for all of us to continue to gain new knowledge. I personally think the use of mobile productivity apps will continue to grow and that we will find new ways to incorporate them into professional teamwork.

Shirley Fine Lee is the author of three business books related to productivity management. She has been teaching time management since 1989. She also began teaching meeting management, team building, and project management in the early 90’s. Shirley feels her purpose is to help organizations increase communication, employee, and system capacity to produce results. Find out more about her on her website:

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