One of the issues I work with is a lack of time. You have it, I have it. There just don’t seem to be enough hours in the day, or at least that’s what we believe.
I’ve found that being mindful of how you spend your time is an important activity. There are so many interruptions in a day that we don’t even know where they come from. In fact, I bet that if you try some of the following suggestions you’ll create extra time you never believed you would get.
Keep a calendar for two weeks.
You’re really going to hate this suggestion. It’s also the best one I have.
Keep a time log for two weeks. In the log you’re going to write what you’re doing every fifteen minutes. Yes, I know, this is a real pain. It’s also the only way you’re going to find out where the time goes.
Find a time management system.
If you don’t have a way of managing projects and activities you just go from one activity to another with no focus. I use a time management system for self-defense. Without it I get nothing done. I’ll spend most of my day thinking about what I should do instead of getting around to doing it.
I think there are two really good systems out there. The Franklin Covey system is one that’s been around for years. It’s also known as the Daytimer system. The one I’m using and have been for years is David Allen’s Getting Things Done. This system encourages you to get everything out of your head and on a piece of paper or in my case in my computer. There are several GTD computer programs. Find one that works for you.
Use time blocking.
Do you make appointments with yourself? If you’re like most people the answer would be no. When you make an appointment with yourself you’re blocking time for doing important projects and tasks. If you don’t actually look at your calendar and see how you’re going to fit in your projects, it’s likely you won’t get everything done that’s important.
Using a calendar forces you to think about not only what’s urgent but what’s important as well. It’s something I highly recommend.
Empty your inbox.
I can’t tell you how often I look at someone’s computer and see hundreds of emails hanging around an inbox. I just don’t know how you can manage your time and be effective when you have all of that noise asking for your attention.
Before the days of computers the mantra in dealing with paper was deal with it now, file it for later or throw it away. You should do the same for your inbox. Either answer it now, file it for later or delete it. At the end of the day there should be nothing left….that’s right I meant nothing. I know you can do it.
Have project folders.
I recommend having project folders on your computer. They’re easier to find and you don’t have to fumble with opening and filing them when you’re done.
With project folders you can easily keep track of progress you’re making. You might have fifty or more projects you’re working on. Most of them will not require weekly work. If they do, you have too many. In my case I can’t work on more than ten or twelve projects during any one week. If I try to do more, I know there will be things I don’t get to and people who will be disappointed.
Plan your week.
This is the real reason for project folders. They allow you to plan your week in a more effective manner. Projects are things you want to keep moving forward. If you review what’s important in your life once a week, you can see the type of progress you’re making. You can work on things that are urgent and then look at those that are important. For me, that’s the secret of being effective. I work on what I have to first and then work on things that will add the most value second.
If I’m spending all of my time on what I have to, there’s something wrong. Most of the time the urgent activities only take a few hours. I have the rest of the week to work on the important stuff. What about you? What’s your week look like?
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