Interview: Robyn Pearce

We’ve managed to grab a few minutes from Robyn Pearce, New Zealand’s international time management and productivity specialist (whom others call the Time Queen!)Over 20 years ago, a single mother of six, Robyn was an award-winning but burnt-out real estate agent.  Faced with constant burn-out and bad health she stumbled across the study of time management. These days she works around the world, helping others with their time problems. She found a gap (early morning ) to answer our questions whilst riding herd on 3 of her 16 grandchildren for a week. (This bunch of cuties are 2, 6, and 8).  ‘I love them to pieces, but rock on next week. My corporate clients are MUCH easier work than 3 little people!’ More about Robyn at  

1. What are the 3 main reasons people come to your workshops?

Each person has slightly different reasons, but how to deal with overload of all kinds is a core theme.  

That overload could be just too much email – and most of us know that one!  

Another is interruptions and the accompanying sense that you never catch up. 

And too often it seems there’s not enough hands to do the work – this can sometimes be sorted with help on how to delegate better or outsource.)

Then there’s folk who want help with how to effectively plan and prioritise. Procrastination comes up all the time. And some spend way too much time in meetings. 
And one of my favourites (because it’s so easy to fix!) – how to sort the clutter and create a work-space that supports you instead of feeling like you’re working in the town tip. 

Whoops, more than 3 reasons. 

2. Can time management strategies help outside of work?

Absolutely yes. I see it all the time.

Example 1: A young guy in one of my early programmes, about 18 years ago, had sat through some hours of discussion, polite but disengaged. Then all of a sudden I noticed a change in his body language.

He came up to me at the next break – so excited he could hardly contain himself. 

‘My boss sent me on this course. I didn’t think it had any relevance to me at all. I’m just a storeman in a factory, moving pellets of bottles around.  I go to work to make enough money to support my passion for motor-cycle sidecar racing and I’m well on my way to being one of New Zealand’s top riders. 

‘I’ve just realised that if I’m good at time management and all the things you’ve been talking about, Robyn, it will have a huge impact on my dream to own my own motor-cycle shop.’ 

Example 2: Suzanne was the Sydney-based MD of a company who found employment for disabled people.  I’d run a 1-day training session with her team and then shortly after spent 4 hours personally with her in her disaster of an office. (You can read the story in ‘Getting A Grip On The Paper War’ )

I got a call from her about 2 years after we’d worked together. By that time she was self-employed and an independent consultant. 

‘Robyn, I just wanted to tell you that my office has never gone back to the state you saw. I’m now operating from my home office up in the Blue Mountains and I find it really easy to apply those organisational strategies you taught me.’

3. What is the one main thing you do each day that saves YOU time?

As much as possible, I work with my energy and with the optimum time for the specific tasks. For example, I’m answering these questions in the early morning, before the ankle-biters wake up.  For me, not used to working around small children on a daily basis any more, I couldn’t do my best work with three little people interrupting me every few minutes. It would take longer, the quality of the thinking would be compromised, and no-one would be satisfied.

Plus, I’d rather be focused on the children whilst they’re around.  More on that in When Multi-Tasking Went Wrong – Lessons My Grandchildren Taught Me (Same kids, now joined by their cute sister.) 
There are so many angles and variations on this point that it would be another article, so I’ll stop before you get a book! (Plus I hear the boys stirring below  )

4. Do you think it’s important to set goals?  

It’s the start of everything.  If you know what’s important to you, you’re far more able to apply what I profoundly believe is our most powerful time management tool – the ability to say ‘No’. Not in a career-limiting or relationship-limiting way, I hasten to add. But if you’re not clear what really matters to you, other people’s demands and priorities will be far more likely to dominate your actions. More on this at: 

5. We all start the year with new resolutions – what are 3 key things people can do to set goals they can actually achieve?

Those kids are now doing self-catering at the kitchen bench so I’m going to give you only one – and it’s the most important. Whatever you want to achieve this year, DO something immediately. Don’t just talk about it. The most important step is the beginning action. For example, if you want to learn French, don’t  wait until you’ve got time. Enrol in a class.  Before you get side-tracked, do it NOW. (And read my article in the Herald given above – it’s a practical list of ‘how-to’s.)

To get more practical and light-hearted tips from Robyn, start with your free copy of her ‘How to Master Time in Only 90 Seconds’ ebook  at 

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