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Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

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In The Other Side of Organized, Linda Samuels, CPO-CD® will encourage you to get organized enough to reduce the stress of life’s details and make time to embrace your passions. Already, thousands of clients and readers have found help and inspiration in her advice, personal reflections on change and connection, and vision of what can be accomplished when you find that sweet spot between chaos and perfection.

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« What Motivates You to Do Anything? | What Are Today's Interesting Finds? - v2 »

Ask the Expert: Harold Taylor

The popular “Ask the Expert” interview series connects you with dynamic industry thought leaders. This year we’ve spoken with Erin Rooney Doland about clutter, Francine Jay about letting go, Todd Henry about next steps, Dr. Debbie Grove about change, and Joshua Becker about fresh starts. For June, I’m thrilled to have with us prolific writer, speaker, and time management guru, Harold Taylor to share his expertise about time.

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Harold for many years through one of our industry associations, the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO.) He’s been a frequent speaker and exhibitor at the annual conference. In 2002, I remember when he came to New York and presented his “Making Time Work for You” workshop for the NAPO-NY chapter professional development series. I still have the fabulous handouts with a great Harold quote that says,

“You cannot manage time; but if you manage yourself wisely in the time at your disposal, time will work for you.

Tonight I'm looking forward to attending the teleclass "Sleep as a Time Management Strategy fot he CD Client" that he's presenting to the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD.) My deepest gratitude goes to Harold for taking the time to join us. Before we begin, here’s more about him.

Harold Taylor, CEO of Harold Taylor Time Consultants Ltd., has been speaking, writing and conducting training programs on the topic of effective time management for over 35 years. He has written 18 books and has presented over 2,000 workshops, speeches and keynotes on the topic of time and life management. You can connect with Harold on Twitter, blog or website. 


Linda Samuels:  As time management consultant, speaker, author, and trainer, you’ve been helping others manage their time and lives for almost 40 years. In what ways do the time challenges we had decades ago differ from now?

Harold Taylor:  There is a greater need than ever for time management because of the increasing speed, complexity and distractions of today’s environment. We are working faster, driving faster, communicating faster, eating faster – in short, we’re living faster.

In addition to time problems introduced by the latest technology, such as increased choices, incessant interruptions, unrealistic expectations and concomitant stress, our bodies are not designed to operate at warp speed and we are faced with a variety of ailments to the point that “keeping well” has become another time consumer.

We now have a longer lifespan than any previous generation, yet about a third of us claim we do not have enough time. Technology allows us to quickly dispense with trivial and low-priority activities so we are able to take on more trivial and low-priority activities. The emphasis has been on doing things faster but relatively little emphasis on working smarter.

For example, email is faster than writing or typing letters but we send and receive more messages. Some people in my workshops claim to receive hundreds of emails in a day. Since the line between work and personal time has been eliminated, people answer email and phone calls during lunch hours, text message while driving and watch videos during a son’s baseball game. We are allowing technology to control us rather than the other way around.


Linda:  For those that are especially challenged with time management, what strategies are most effective?

Harold:  The most effective strategies in this digital age of speed are to work with purpose, plans and priorities. Most people resist prioritizing because they want to do it all. The consequences include unhealthy and inefficient attempts at multitasking, working longer hours, and cutting back on sleep.

We have to accept the fact that we can’t do everything, and establish a set of personal policies (which identify our values), set specific goals, and schedule appointments with ourselves to actually get the work done. This requires the use of an appropriate planner, a lot of self-discipline, and the commitment to regain control of our time.


Linda:  Can you describe your “holistic time management” approach to living and some of the benefits?

Harold:  I define holistic time management as “applying the strategies necessary to lead a happier, healthier, longer, more productive and fulfilling life.”  It is based on my belief that rather than trying to get more things done in our lifetime through efficiency, it would be more rewarding to focus on extending our lifetime. Not only would we get more done (even if we did nothing to increase our efficiency) we would have more time to enjoy whatever life had to offer.

The major topics covered in a workshop on holistic time management fall neatly into an acronym that spells out the word HOLISTIC – Health; Organization; Lifestyle; Internal body time; Spirituality; Time use; Interpersonal relationships and Cognitive skills. These all impact our longevity as well as our time management.


Linda:  What has been your toughest personal time management challenge?

Harold:  My toughest personal time management challenge as I get older is not to become an “activity packrat,” crowding more activities into an already busy schedule without getting rid of other activities in the process. I think this is more difficult as you age since you can finally see the top surface of the sand in the hourglass.


Linda:  Do you have a time management philosophy or mantra?

Harold:  I’m not sure if it’s a philosophy or mantra, but I do believe we should never regret having squandered time in the past; because even squandering can be enjoyable, and there are lessons learned, personal growth or other value in everything we have done or not done in the past. And we can’t change it anyway.


Linda:  If you found yourself with an unexpected extra hour on a particular day, how would you spend that time?

Harold:  If I found myself with an unexpected hour on a particular day, I hope I would either spend the time doing more of whatever I was doing at the time - or wondering whether I had missed putting the clock ahead in the spring.


Harold, there are so many ideas here that resonate with me like the effect technology has had- how we manage or don’t manage our time. I love the clarity of your message that we need to “accept the fact that we can’t do everything, ” and the that “squandering [time] can be enjoyable.” I also never heard the term “activity packrat.” It’s an interesting concept to consider that our schedules can become just as cluttered as our spaces if we’re not aware.

Please join Harold and me as we continue the conversation. Share your ideas about time management, favorite strategies, and the role technology plays. What are your thoughts?

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Reader Comments (18)

Love this interview!

The quote "The most effective strategies in this digital age of speed are to work with purpose, plans and priorities". Even with the abundance of time and tools we have, prioritizing is the key.

It's hard to remember this though. Making weekly planning and establishing daily 3 Most Important Tasks (MITs') part of your plan, it's easier.

June 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Delap

Ellen- Great to have you here and so glad you liked Harold's interview. Love the quote you picked out. Our digital devices can pull us so far off course if we don't enlist the help of those 3 P's or MIT's. It requires us to slow down in the midst of the speed of what's possible. As you said, not always an easy thing to do.

June 24, 2014 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I've never heard of the activity "packrat" but as an organizer it makes perfect sense. Harold is RIGHT ON with the idea that our ability to perform mundane tasks more quickly has led to us taking on more of them.... instead of enjoying the extra time. I think our society is still adapting to the rapid technology changes, and will probably get better and better with figuring out how to manage them. The kinds of approaches Harold is teaching are exactly what we need to be focusing on. If I had an extra hour, I'd like to think I could read a book without feeling guilty:)

June 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSeana Turner

"We are allowing technology to control us rather than the other way around"
What a quote, I force myself to put away my electronic devices while I eat, read, spend time with others or watch television. We get caught in the technology trap and suddenly we think we can not survive without those things, but we can. Technology is a tool like a spoon or a hammer, they're supposed to serve us and make life easy.
Thank you Linda and Harold, great interview.

June 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNacho Eguiarte

Wonderful to "hear" your voices!

@Seana- "Activity packrat" was new to me too. What a powerful image. I like your positive take that we'll get better at navigating these "rapid technology" times. Harold helps us refocus on the basics as a way to get a handle on the tech side of things. Great use of your extra hour…especially with suspending the guilt. Go read!!!

@Nacho- What a quote is right! It looks like you've figured out how to create personal boundaries around your technology. By doing so you're not in the "technology trap." I work at this. Just the other day I was thinking about how differently my time was spent when I didn't have a smartphone, email, tweets, blogs, etc… There are definitely some wonderful aspects to the connectedness, but without those boundaries (like the ones you've set up,) the tech can overtake our daily experiences. A delicate dance indeed!

June 24, 2014 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I don't even know where to begin. First, I am a huge fan of Harold. I have taken many of his classes and have found his ideas and teaches to really get through the "clutter' and speak to all of us. Seriously, this interview was one of the best! I really thought he was speaking directly to me. Everything resonated with me, especially that technology controlling us and not the other way around. Thank you so much Linda for bringing one of the greats to us! You hit it out the ball park every time.

June 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie Josel

Harold, your statements about allowing technology to control us rather than the other way around and living faster were a wake up call for me this morning. It is amazing how dependent we've all become on things that didn't even exist for us 5, 10 or 20 years ago. It is also fascinating to me that all of these technological "advances" designed to make our lives easier are often only complicating them more. Awareness is the portal to change, but I sense that change in this arena could be quite challenging. I do thank you and Linda though for the wake up call.


June 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea Sharb

Thanks, everyone, for your input, and for your positive response to my comments about technology. I should tell you that not everyone is as receptive to my views. When my ebook, Time to be productive, was published by Bookboon, I received the following comment from a reader:
“ …when reading your book, and reaching the technology chapter, how much of a negative prejudice against technology transpired through your writing.”
My reply included the following remarks:
“My intent in the book was to point out the hazards of technology if used to excess and to caution people to use it without it using them – not to condemn it – but I obviously didn’t communicate too well. … I assure you that I do not have a negative bias against technology or I wouldn’t be using so much of it myself. It’s not the technology that’s at fault but our inappropriate, sometimes mindless, use of it. And I do insist that it introduces a lot of timewasting opportunities that never before existed. Thus the need for this to be mentioned in time management books so that we can master technology and not be mastered by it.
I’m sure there will be many books in the future that will present frightening scenarios of how technology can negatively impact our relationships, life balance, health – and even our minds and bodies as there becomes a merging of man and machine.”
If you want to read Time to be productive, it can be downloaded free at the publisher’s website. An abbreviated link directly to the book is . By clicking on the author’s name immediately following the title, you can access my other two ebooks published there this year, Time management for an ADHD World, and How to increase the effectiveness of your training. You will find hundreds of books at – all free since they are supported by advertising.
Thanks again for the feedback. You are an encouragement to me.

June 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHarold Taylor

@Leslie- So glad to know that you're another one of Harold's many fans. Glad to hear that you thought he was talking directly to you. His perspective is unique in that he's experienced so many shifts in how we look at and use our time. I don't know if you were on the ICD teleclass last night that he gave on sleep as a time management strategy. Harold was terrific!

@Andrea- Wake up call indeed! Like you, when I think about the changes in the last bunch of years, not just other people's usage of technology, but my own, it's startling. Focus and attention has shifted. Pulls have shifted. And control has shifted. Who is in control? As Harold points out..our we controlling our tech, or is it the other way around?

Always love hearing from you both. Thanks for being here with us and enriching the conversation!

June 25, 2014 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Harold- You've got a lot of fans here… and yes, they are in support of your ideas around technology and it's effects on how we manage our time. We see it for ourselves, our clients, our friends and families. There are upsides of tech, if used well. There are many downsides too that we need to be aware of. The tech is here to stay, so it's not a matter of getting rid of it or ignoring it. It's a matter of how we use it to help, not hinder us. And putting boundaries around our own usage is key too. You touched on that last night in your sleep teleclass, and how our tech toys can disrupt our sleep if we interact with them too close to bedtime. The research supports that. To bring it full circle, getting a good night's sleep is directly related to how productive, creative, and focused we are the next day. You said during the class that "sleep is essential for personal productivity." You also said that "sleep cleans the brain." It's our own personal reboot.

Thank you for providing us with additional resources to check out from Bookboon. This community enjoys digging deeper.

June 25, 2014 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Another fan here! I have many of Harold's books, and though I haven't read all of them yet, I've learned so much.

What really stood out for me was the section about not regretting time we may have squandered in the past because "we can’t change it anyway." It's so true! Plus, sitting around feeling bad about not making the best use of yesterday just means we're not making the best use of today either!

Thanks, Linda, for another great interview.

June 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

Janet- So great to have you here…another Harold fan! Yay! What you say is so true about regret. If we focus on it and let regret consume us, not only is it impossible to change the past, but we also taint the present. Of course we can learn from the past. Learning, letting go, and moving on seems to be a better use of our time. I recognize that sometimes it's easier to say than to do, but well worth the effort. Happy to know that you enjoyed the interview. Thank you for adding to the conversation.

June 25, 2014 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I have a question for Harold. In the ICD teleclass on sleep, he said that the National Sleep Association says people who make their beds sleep better. Does he think that's because they make their beds, or because people who make their beds live more organized, less stressed lives and would tend to sleep better anyway? In other words, is the made bed the cause of better sleep or an indicator of someone who is likely to get a good night's sleep?

June 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterValentina Sgro

Val- That's such a great question about bed making and sleep patterns. I wondered about that when Harold shared the statistic and will be curious if he has more info about it. From a personal view, it's something that my Mom instilled in me. She always said that it takes two minutes to make your bed. And when you do, your entire bedroom looks neat. She is one of the fastest bedmakers I know. I've followed in her footsteps and find it almost impossible NOT to make my bed. I feel better knowing that my room is in order at the start of each day. And when it's time for sleep, it feels more restful to me to get into a bed that's made.

Let's see what Harold can add to this. Thanks again for posing the question, Val.

June 25, 2014 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Val, that quote was from the National Sleep Foundation, and I think they meant it as a way of helping make the bedroom “sleep-friendly” – in the same category as a comfortable mattress and pillow, darkened room etc. But I referred to it in the teleseminar as an example of how organizing can impact sleep. I mentioned it along with things such as having a “yet-to-do” list, organized desk, a plan for the next day etc. before leaving work. If you still have things bouncing around in your head when you retire at night you might experience “thinksomnia.” So I would agree with your latter assessment –organized people tend to sleep better. But I suppose it could be a little of both.
By the way, Val, thanks for doing such a great job moderating the ICD teleseminar.

June 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHarold Taylor

Harold- So many great nuggets here around sleep. The idea of making the bedroom "sleep-friendly" is an interesting and important one. And fascinating that getting into a "made" bed is part of that. I've never heard of the term "thinksomnia." Love that! Well I don't love having it, but I love the description of it AND the awareness around how to minimize it by completing the loose ends of the day. That doesn't necessarily mean we complete everything, but we've wrapped things up to a good stopping point, have a clear idea of where we'll begin the next day, and reduce the stimulating activities to end way in advance of sleep time.

Also, agree with you 100% that Val did a wonderful job hosting the ICD teleclass. Thank you again for presenting such an informative class for ICD. You're such a pro!

June 26, 2014 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

As a time coach I appreciate Harold's philosophy that we can not manage time. His voice and expertise are a great foil to the technology 'tidal wave' soaking our attention 24/7. I love all of his strategies but I have to offer a slight tweak to his suggestion that this takes 'a lot of self-discipline'. I'll suggest 'self practice' - an awareness of best practices and a commitment to practice those best practices till good habits take form.

June 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCameron Gott

Cam- It's so true that Harold's "voice" is that of sensibility with the "technology 'tidal wave' soaking our attention 24/7." Such a vivid image. Appreciate your offering another perspective- shifting the concept of "self-discipline" to "self-practice." This speaks to the coaching model of awareness, accountability, reflection, and change. As always, wonderful to "hear" your voice.

June 26, 2014 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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