Posted in Time Management

To Management the Unmanageable Self – By L. Burke Files

President of Financial Examinations & Evaluations, Inc.



If you are not good at multi-tasking – just stop here.


I own two businesses, travel about 125,000 miles per year – most international - and have a family with 4 active and involved kids. I can loose a week and not even notice, yet work gets done.


My examples of being over tasked:


-I love the feeling of being in an airplane at 42,000 feet over the Atlantic wondering if I had turned off the hose in the pool before I left for London? (Answer : No I had not, and yes, the pool overflowed . The good news is that the water went to that part of the yard where the citrus trees are – and the trees needed water.)


-I was standing in the Miami airport looking at my boarding pass trying to figure out if I was headed outbound or in bound? (The answer: It was to a connecting city and then to home – whew!)


-I was working with a client in Valetta, Malta. After that assignment I was headed to Doha, Qatar to officiate at an opening ceremony. Just before I left to Doha, Qatar. In two weeks, I would be the last man standing to give expert testimony in a 700 Million BP fraud case in London and I (we my firm) have 107 hours of actual time to assemble a report to submit to the courts in advance of the trial. Of course, I would do this while I was working in Qatar (yes, an event during the day which left office hours for night and on top of it, dealing with a 10-hour time difference.


-I was in the middle of the Mazatal Wilderness on a Boy Scout camp out, having been stung in the hand by a scorpion, and had to make a satellite phone call regarding another billion-dollar bond fraud. Certainly, I would not trade an outing with the boys even for that call, but as it turns out, the client was an Eagle Scout and wanted to say hello to the boys on the outing too.


-I was in South Africa. Meanwhile back on the ranch, at home, all of the power goes wacko and I have to manage electricians and the power company as they trench up the front yard. It seems that it was a power leakage on the power company’s side. No bill at home – but you can imagine the communications bill from the other side of this big blue marble. Ughhh!


-I have also been re-routed, stalled, or stuck due to hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, a polar vortex, ice storms, a civil uprisings - three so far. I have also been detained for a few hours by authorities as I was sitting next to an international fugitive on the flight. He was quite the conversationalist.


-I am thankful for all of the opportunities I have ever been given. But yes, these are just some examples of “too much to do” and the collision with reality.


So – what are the tools I use to manage the unmanageable self?


1) First of all, and most importantly, establish your expectations and those of others. The root of an “upset” comes from a failed expectation or a thwarted intension. If expectations are aligned, established by good clear communication, upsets can be avoided.


2) Choose - do not decide! De-cide is like homi-cide or insect-cide, as it is the death of choice. From old Latin “decide” translates to “cut off,” do you really wish to cut off choice? Rather, take time to come to an informed choice and then make the choice. If you choose wrong, choose again. Do not get stuck with a bad decision. A lot of time is wasted with people having some emotional investment tied to a bad decision, me included.


3) I am in control, but only of myself. Just because I plan a trip or an investigation or a presentation doesn’t mean the plan will occur as it is laid out. Ignore the chimera of control. Those people yelling at airline personnel or hotel staff or their own subordinates have a control issue – they want something done a certain way or in a certain time and it is not occurring. They are not in control, and anger is how this realization is manifested. Don’t fall into this trap.


4) “Focus” and “discard” are powerful tools. ‘Focus’ in on what is important and ‘discard’ the rest. An analysis that uses this tool is the “fatal flaw analysis”. If you have 100 problems in front of you and you can solve 99 of those 100 problems, discard those problems and then focus on the one problem you cannot solve. Fixing 99 problems before you have fixed the one problem is a waste of time as without that one problem being fixed, the rest do not matter a bit and are time wasters. The ‘focus’ and ‘discard’ tool can be broadly applied.


5) Leveraging skills and talent keeps you from wasting time and making wrong choices. I think I am finally smart enough to know how ignorant I am. Thus, it is best that I consult with people with more and deeper experience in these areas I lack - and listen to them. If there knowledge is of sufficient depth and they can communicate their knowledge clearly – they often find themselves on one of our projects.


6) Seek out optionality in everything you do from investing, to managing your time, to working with your family, and giving back to your community. In short, what can you do with a small amount of time that will have a significant impact? The analogy with investing is to leverage your money so that a small amount of money is at risk but will bring a large return – as opposed to a large amount of money being at risk that will bring a small return.


7) Avoid the committee process and avoid trying to build a consensus. It is your life. Live you life and like it – as it is you life. Building consensus about everything is a massive time waster – seek good information, seek input, but ultimately the choices are yours, so make them.


These are some of the more powerful tools for managing my unmanageable self. A full and productive schedule leads us to richer lives and work experiences with fewer upsets. Prince or plumber, minister or mother – these tools help you avoid the time wasters, the people and tasks that are the robbers of life’s marrow.


Mr. Files is a published author of five books, in particular "Due Diligence for the Financial Professional, 2nd edition 2010" and "Money and Budgets." Other writing and material can be found at  Mr. Files is an international speaker on these topics. 


FE&E, Inc. is an international investigative firm specializing in fraud prevention, asset recovery, due diligence, anti-money laundering and intellectual property. 


As a financial industry insider for over 30 years, he is keenly aware of the type, and accuracy of the information required to make decisions. Mr. Files has been the case manager on fraud investigations ranging from tens of thousands of dollars to over $3 billion.   As an international expert on due diligence and Intellectual Property and Critical Information (IPCI), he is regularly sought for those cases that bedevil the desktop practitioners. 


This article is courtesy of the Top 1% Club and the Top 1% Club Mentor Gail Kasper. For additional information on Gail Kasper, her television appearances and speaking engagements, please visit