Keeping a reliable and precise record of forthcoming events, appointments, and obligations is crucial for efficient time management.
Choosing A System
The traditional way to record future plans by hand is in a diary. Increasingly sophisticated personal planners and electronic organize, with address books and accounting systems, are now available and are useful for keeping information to hand. The type you choose should depend on the work you need to organize. You may need a whole page for each day; or it might be more important to be able to see a week at a glance.
Planning With A Diary
Using a diary takes discipline. The first thing you need to do is to get used to taking the time b to record appointments and scheduled events as and when they are made. Make a note of how long the preparatory steps prior to your meetings take, and remember to build in the time needed for preparation and travel before appointments, as well as for any follow-up nor reporting afterwards.
Maintaining A Diary
If somebody other than yourself is responsible for the upkeep of your diary, let them know of any appointments as soon as you make them to ensure maximum efficiency and productivity. Make sure that you have access to he latest version of your diary, and that you check it at regular intervals to confirm your appointments. Consider using an intranet system that can provide simultaneous access to a single electronic organizer from a number of different locations.
Each day, schedule important A-tasks around planned events, and make sure you complete them within a specific time. Remember to leave yourself enough slack time each day to deal with any unexpected situations that may arise.
Making A Master List
Having categorized all your jobs A, B and C, according to urgency and importance, there may be still occasions when you feel confused about and overwhelmed by the number of projects that you face and the time you have in which to complete them. This sis a good time to take a few minutes to make a master list, writing all your tasks on I, great and small, plus their deadlines
The very act of listing these important tasks is therapeutic and will take a weight off your mind. In addition,a list gives you a better overview of the whole situation than does a daily view of scheduled tasks. Certain solutions will suggest themselves; you may realize, for example, that the marketing plan for a new product that seem to be way behind schedule can be postponed because the assembly line for the new product is itself running late.
Using Lists Effectively
Your master list should feature all your A, B, and C tasks. Make the list living and ever changing , crossing items off as you complete them, adding new tasks as they arise, and highlighting items as your priorities change. If you wish, group similar tasks together, for example, putting a star next to important letters to be write, and highlighting meetings o be arranged. This will help you to see at a glance what has to be don, and may encourage you to complete all similar tasks at the same time. You may save time at home if you also make a list of domestic tasks.
Doing Unpleasant Jobs
Tasks of different types suit different personalities. A job that you find particularly unpleasant, such as dealing with a difficult customer, for example, may be regarded as an enjoyable challenge by a colleague. There is nothing to be gained form performing unpleasant tasks for the sake of it,, so if you can delegate appropriately, do so.
When it is unavoidable, try to do a difficult job when you are in a positive frame of mind. Do not put it off until the end of the day, when you may be tired, or wait until just before the deadline.
Many tasks on your master list will not disappear when they are done. Tasks in the working year often recur in cycles – for example, you may want to aim a certain product at certain customers at the same time every year. To allocate regular time to recurring tasks, you need a long – term backup to your short -term planner, such as a colour-coded wall chat. Use bright colors to map n our regular events so that you can see how busy you are at a glance, and can plan ahead accordingly.
Points To Remember
- Your master list should be consulted at the beginning of everyday.
- Items should be crossed off your master list as and when they are done: it is very satisfying to see a list get shorter.
- At the end of each day, new items that have been added to a master list should be assessed and categorized as A, B, or C tasks.
- Your master list can enable you to combine related tasks.
- When time is allocated for tasks on a master list, extra time should be left for unscheduled items.
- A maser list of things to do at home should be kept, as well as a master list of work – related tasks.
- Choose a diary that looks good and that you will enjoy using.
- Always keep a pen in your diary for noting information and dates.
- Use coloured pens to denote tasks of varying importance.
- Set realistic deadlines. A deadline is meant to be helpful, not a major source of stress.
- Delegate enjoyable tasks as well as unpleasant ones.
- Reward yourself when you meet your deadlines.
- Plan your diary not more than one year ahead.