OKRs and the Fallacy of Time Management: How to Self-Manage

OKRs and ‘time management’ are topics that are dependent upon each other to a high degree. Something to deeply consider is you cannot manage time as we all have the same amount – 24 hours per day. However, you can improve how you handle yourself within 24 hours.

Managing your schedule well means you are not automatically increasing your performance and your team’s. The most essential elements of managing yourself well are prioritization and consistent action. The same two factors are critical to the sustainability and success of OKRs.

We can use any technique, such as time boxing, but if we are not working on our identified priorities, time boxing will not help that much.


In the context of OKRs, prioritization is not an individual exercise but a joint team exercise to establish our clear priorities. Clarity of importance, however, is only possible to achieve with clarity of vision and strategies.

  • We at the top of the organization can only expect others to manage themselves well when:
  • We have co-created a vision and made it abundantly clear what the vision is
  • We have co-created strategies, and those who have to execute them are crystal clear on what the strategy is
  • We have collectively decided what the top priorities are
  • We have set strategic OKRs that are powerful, meaningful and aligned
  • We truly foster both collaboration and trust

Questions to ponder on ‘Self-management’

‘Self-management’ becomes more straightforward when we have arrived at the answers to the following questions through self-discovery, experience, and advice from others:

What are our current priorities?

What time should be spent on ‘business as usual related activities’, and what time should we spend on OKRs?

How many meetings are essential, and how can we make those meetings more effective?

As a Performance Coach, the first thing I do with a client is to review their schedule, which is very revealing in terms of actual priorities and self-management.

We collectively review and assess if some meetings can be removed totally, and if not, how we can streamline those meetings so that they take up less time. Free up time by focusing on priorities and having shorter but more powerful meetings with a clear return on investment of your time.

Gary Vaynerchuk reveals that one of his core productivity hacks is to have 15-minute meetings generally. Most people would have those meetings that last well over an hour.  On average, you can save at least ten hours per week through prioritization and having focused meetings, that is, if you are currently prone to having meetings that generally last too long.

Freeing your time up for what truly matters allows you to spend more time on the most important part of OKRs, such as, but not limited to:

  • Facilitating Powerful OKR drafting workshops and conducting proactive and iterative weekly check-ins.
  • Overwhelmed with too many meetings, there is little to no opportunity for self-reflection and self-development. Both reflection and skills development are essential factors in the sustainability and success of OKRs
  • Creating self-organized teams and fostering autonomy are only words until we support all team members through practical coaching on self-management. All these terms, such as ‘time-management’, self-management and more, are relative:

His father asked Sam: What have you been doing this week?

Sam proudly answered: I finished Simon Sineks’ Finding You Why, and I wrote an assignment on Purpose.

Sams’s father smiled and asked: What of what you read and wrote this week did you put into practice? Can you give me an example?

‘Next week, I will do something about it, Dad. I was too busy reading and writing about purpose.

We are often so busy in meetings that we have little to no time for execution. Self-management is about creating opportunities for yourself to become effective at execution by removing waste from your schedule.

This, generally speaking, is easier said than done, as we are creatures of habit. Prioritization is a habit and skill we need to practice daily and remove waste from our careers and schedules.

How do we start?

We can start by:

  • Measuring what truly matters.
  • Not only drafting action plans but prioritising action plans.
  • Let time allocation reflect our priorities.
  • Not only discuss next steps but take them in order of priority
  • Drafting powerful OKRs according to priorities.
  • Leading your team in the most effective way
  • Supporting your team through prioritized and effective coaching
  • Prioritizing skills-building activities that help us to achieve our objectives.

To measure what truly matters and to learn how to prioritize actions inclusive of skills-building experiences that help us to achieve our objectives, join our suite of courses:

OKR Courses

Talent Development Director of the OKR Institute