Time Management Magic | Lee Cockerell

Author: Lee Cockerell
Author: Lee Cockerell

Main Theme: Time and Self Management
For People Who: Need help managing their time to be more effective and efficient.

I have always been a good manager of my time, but Time Management Magic

has given me fresh kick in the pants to manage myself and my goals much more intentionally. If you’re terrible at managing your time, this is such an important book for you to read. And if you think that you don’t have time to learn time management, Lee Cockerell would ask you: “[You] don’t have the time to save time?” (pg. 53) Understand, before retiring from a great career, Cockerell was the Senior Operating Executive of Walt Disney World Resort, leading a team of over 40,000 cast members, 20 resorts, 4 theme parks, 2 water parks and the ESPN complex. He has the competence and credibility to write a book on this subject with little to no research. This is an incredibly practical book that is short and easy to read. If you want to use your time rather than waste it, or need to employ a system to help you do so, then pick up this book.

It is not the stress that kills you; it’s the distress from feeling out of control. But here’s one of the most important things I’ve learned: Most people are not overworked…they are under-organized. –Time Management Magic, pg. 19-20


  • Time management is really about life management.
  • What do you want to accomplish? If you want to be excellent at what you do, it will require you to be well-organized.
  • To manage means to control. So ‘time management’ is about how you control your time. And no one can truly control your time but you.
  • If you don’t schedule things that are important (whether personal or professional) then you run the high risk they will not get done because they will get set aside.
  • Something is vital (doing your taxes on January 1) when it’s important but doesn’t require immediate action.
    But it becomes urgent when we procrastinate (doing your taxes on April 14th). Too many people are in urgent mode which is incredibly stressful. When you deal with vital items ahead of time, few items ever are urgent.

Brief Summary

We often don’t get to the Vital items because we are so busy putting out the fires of the URGENT. And many of the URGENT items were created because we didn’t get to them when they were only Vital. It’s a vicious cycle, and you must discipline yourself to get out of it, or else you will spend your life being busy but not making a difference. –Time Management Magic, pg. 96

Chapter 1: This Is Your Life!

Cockerell makes an important distinction between being ‘efficient’ (being able to get things doneand being ‘effective.’ (doing the right things in the right order) Both of these attributes must be disciplined into our lives in order to be more proficient at controlling what we do, when we do it, and why we do it in a particular order. The truth is that most people don’t look ahead in their lives far enough to see what their daily decisions now are doing to them. We don’t see the unhealthy person in the future, so we don’t exercise or eat right. Retirement is a long way off, so we don’t take advantage of compound interest over the decades. “Time/life management is probably the most crucial skill a person needs to be successful and happy.” (pg. 27) Here are some helpful tips Cockerell provides to help give you more control:

  1. Surround yourself with great people
  2. Train and educate: When you train and educate the people in the organization, they can problem solve without having to come to you – saving you time.
  3. Be crystal clear about your expectations – for yourself and others
  4. Anticipate and practice: Think ahead of issues you or your organization will face and plan ahead.
  5. Leave spaces in your calendar: Give yourself room to make changes to your day
  6. Do it now!

Chapter 2: It’s Your Time…and Your Life!

Knowing what to do and doing it are two different things. That may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t live as though it’s obvious. -Time Management Magic, pg. 44

Cockerell asks if you’ve ever experienced a day when you had a huge amount of items to get done and you completed them all: how did you feel? Compare that with a day when you had a huge amount of items to get done and you accomplished very few of them: how did you feel then? YOU should be the former person every day of your life, and you can be! Grant it, there are some events that will spring up that we can’t control. In those cases, Cockerell says “we can control [them] to some extent by being prepared.” (pg. 48)

Stop wasting your time and getting frustrated for no reason. Forget about things you can’t control. Identify what you can control. Focus on those things only, and you will see big results. -Time Management Magic, pg. 49

One of the most important things you can do is to set aside 5-30 minutes each morning (or the evening before) to plan out your day. By prioritizing what you have to accomplish, you will have a game plan to face the day.

Chapter 3: How to Use a Day-Timer Daily Planner

In this chapter Cockerell recommends using the Day-Timer® created by Acco Brand Direct and walks through how he uses it. Without going into the details of how he uses his planner, it is important to note the need for a system to manage your time. If you don’t have one – start one! If that’s using the Day-Timer® or a digital app I use called Informant, use a tool that helps you organize your life.

Chapter 4: Assigning Right Priorities

Having the ability to focus on and accomplish your priorities in the right order is the name of the game for effectiveness. -Time Management Magic, pg. 79

When planning your day, prioritize your items as follows:

  • URGENT first
  • Vital next
  • Important after that
  • Low value last, if ever

It’s important to schedule certain items on days when you know you’ll be the most effective to get them done. One characteristic that will increase your effectiveness is to do the things you want to do the least near the beginning of your day, if possible. This will keep you from being distracted, saving you time. A minute here and a minute there add up quickly into hours later. Depending on how disorganized you are, you may even want to schedule bathroom breaks or personal time with your family! “Schedule the priorities in your life right into your calendar.” (pg. 93)

Chapter 5: Mom’s Advice on Procrastination

Procrastinator may be the worst thing you can be called in business other than “crook” or “thief.” –Time Management Magic, pg. 104

If you have a problem with procrastination, you have to make a decision to discipline how you spend your time. Schedule the priorities in your life and stick with them. Cockerell gives a number of helpful hints. Here are a few:

  • Make a list of ‘To Do’s’ every day during planning time and put a priority on each of them
  • Leave time in your calendar for interruptions and for things that come up last minute
  • Commit a deadline to your work. “June 5 at 5pm” is a deadline. “ASAP” and “When I get a chance” are not.
  • Start projects as quickly as possible, so you have ample time to work and rework them (pg. 104-106)

The problem many people have when trying to accomplish something vital is time wasters, and the first step to removing them from your life is to identify what they are. What is it that soaks up your time? What can be delegated to others?

One of the main reasons people don’t improve is that they are not honest with themselves. They lack the ability to see their own faults and weaknesses. -Time Management Magic, pg. 112

Chapter 6: Priscilla’s Advice on Preoccupation

In this chapter Cockerell confirms what you may already be thinking: I need to may attention! Managing what you do on a daily basis requires your intentionality and your attention. Slip into la-la land and you’ll wake up and realize that time has passed you by and your vital items have now become urgent items. Thus, you begin the vicious cycle again.

Chapter 7: Final Thoughts

Nothing is sadder than someone growing old tormented by regret. –Time Management Magic, pg. 134-135

I think Cockerell hits the nail on the head with this big quote. Ultimately, we all will reach the end of our life on this earth and we’ll look back over our lives and ask the questions: Did I make a difference? Did I do my best? Did I use my time or did I lose my time? I certainly do not want to look back upon my life and be tormented with “what might have been?” thoughts. In his final thoughts, Cockerell gives a large number of time saving tips. Here are a few:

  • Make sure to take five to thirty minutes to plan every day.
  • Listen carefully and take notes to help you understand what you are hearing.
  • Learn to run meetings efficiently.
  • Identify the things you do that waste time and eliminate them. (pg. 132-133)


I was involved in the student government at the university I attended. We were privileged to have a businessman come in and teach us time management skills – it forever impacted my life. That was 13 years ago and I still remember the lecture like it was yesterday. I have since taught several sessions on time management myself. So while I’ve been a well organized person, Time Management Magicgave me an incredible boost! Every leader must learn to manage themselves well so that they can make the biggest difference possible. If you’re not organized, if you’re not managing what you do, if you’re not prioritizing what is vital and eliminate what is waste – then ultimately you will never be as successful as you would have been had you done so. So start the process today!

A year from now, you will wish you started today. –Karen Lamb

Information and Personal Rating

General Information:

Personal Ratings (1-10)

  • Applicability: 9
  • Readability: 9 (easy read)
  • Originality: 6-8 (depending on your level of time management knowledge already)
  • Recommendation: Yes – absolutely! Even if it’s just to reorient your management.

One thought on “Time Management Magic | Lee Cockerell

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