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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.

Planning Long-Term

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.


  1. Choose a diary that looks good and that you will enjoy using.
  2. Always keep a pen in your diary for noting information  and dates.
  3. Use coloured pens to denote tasks of varying importance.
  4. Set realistic deadlines. A deadline is meant  to be helpful, not a major source of stress.
  5. Delegate enjoyable tasks as well as unpleasant ones.
  6. Reward yourself when you meet your deadlines.
  7. Plan your diary not more than one year ahead.
Bernard Taiwo
I am Management strategist, Editor and Publisher.