In today’s hyper-connected world there are many conflicting demands on our time. Technology makes it way too easy to get pulled into frittering (or Twittering) away bits of time here and there until suddenly the day or the week is gone and we’re left stressed out and wondering what we really accomplished. And multi-tasking actually makes us stupid. We lose IQ points by flip flopping our attention from one task to another. As with so much about personal, team, or organizational effectiveness the issue is developing disciplined habits.

Jim Estill’s blog on time leadership is an excellent resource to help us get on track. Jim’s a remarkable and very successful entrepreneur. He started EMJ Data Systems, from the trunk of his car after graduating from the University of Waterloo with a degree in Systems Design Engineering. Practicing the disciplined habits and leadership philosophies found throughout his blog, Jim grew EMJ to a staff of over 300 people, with $350 million in annual sales.

I met Jim a few times over the years and was always struck by his balance of management discipline and customer/people leadership. Jim attributes much of his success to his effectiveness at managing time. He has led numerous Time Leadership workshops, and has produced a Time Leadership CD.

This fall Jim was recognized by our local technology association, Communitech, for the expertise and advice he provided to many early stage companies here in Waterloo Region. That includes a board membership at Blackberry maker RIM (Research in Motion) that began when the company first went public. The Blackberry is an excellent example of a technical tool that we can either master to make us more time effective or dumb us down and enslave us in multi-tasking stupidity.

We moved our family back to Waterloo Region (60 miles west of Toronto) twenty years ago this fall. Heather and I first lived here when we were married in 1977 and then moved around Canada quite a bit for ten years until settling back here to raise our family. Lately I’ve been getting reconnected with the area (I travel outside this area quite a lot) in helping our son, Chris, establish his law career here (he aspires to be a local “rain maker” in building business relationships.)