Time Management
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11/03/2011 - Self Help 

Time Management

In our hectic lives, we never have enough time in a day to do what we want.  Being unable to fulfill our goals can lead to depression, burn out, feelings of failure & of course stress.  None of these things are good for our health, self-confidence or mental clarity.  If you feel that you cannot get everything done in a day that you set out to do & feel bad about it, then maybe you may need to re-evaluate things.  Better time management & scheduling can help.

Time management can be used to help simply your life & give you direction.  It's not a fix all, nor will it ever be.  But with better time management, you can get more done in a single day & feel better in the process.

I find that time management can be handled in 2 parts.  First is knowing what to do & the second is knowing when to do them.

Know what to do:

The first point in better time management is to list everything you need to do.  I found using a spreadsheet works here.  Simple enter each thing you need to do into the first column of the spreadsheet.  List one ToDo item per cell.  It need not matter the order you enter them; as we will reorder them later.

Once you're done with that, read over your list.  For the beginner, the list may be very lengthy -- this is normal.  You will see the list shorten as you better manage your time & scheduling.  Now in the cell just next to each ToDo entry, enter a number which relates to its importance level.  The range for your importance level can be something simple as '1 thru 10' or more granular like '1 thru 100'.  Things which have to be done immediately should have a high importance level.  While things which can be safely put off to another time, should have a low importance level.

The goal here is to not list them all as '1' (lowest) or '10' (highest); where nothing is in-between.  The goal is to figure out if one task needs to be completed before another.  So don't be afraid to use a wide range of say '1 thru 100', so you can give each task a more specific importance level.  For example, if you have both a proposal to finish & an a import expense report to generate, give a higher level to the task that must be done first.  Try not to give each task the same importance level, so that you can better schedule those things that need to be done first.

When to do them:

Now that you have a completed this, you should sort the entire spreadsheet on tour importance level column (the 2nd column in your spreadsheet).  Sort it from most important to least important.  This will tell you what to do first.  Get done most important matters out of the way, and take up the slack of the end of a day getting a few of the simpler extra things that are less important.

Getting things done, regardless of how important they are on your list, will give you a sense of accomplishment.  By getting rid of the most important ones first, the better off you will be about forgetting something important later on or leaving it for last minute.

As you complete each task, take it off your list.  As you get new tasks, add them to your list.  After a while. you will likely

And the more you get out of the way, the better you will feel about the situation & yourself.  This will make you want to get more things done & before you know it, your large list has dwindled down to only a few insignificant items.

And for those like me with a list as long as your arm, don't fret.  This process simply helps you figure out what needs to be done & when you should do them  If you don't get them all done in a short time, that is no big deal.  Honestly I have things on my list that are over a year old.  But they are so small & unimportant that if they never get done, it's not a big deal.  But I know that when if I'm asking about anything important, by following my list, I can be sure those things were done or are the next thing to be completed.  It simply keeps things from falling through the cracks & being forgotten, when they eventually need to be done, regardless of their importance level.  The list really helps me on free days when I have some extra time or when a home/work project gets axed for some reason.  I simply take out the list & see what I can get done...

I have found this process to greatly help me get through my crazy schedule, endless list of things to do & to not rely on bad memory, while better tracking everything going on in my personal/professional life.  Perhaps this process can also help you too...

On a side note, don't be afraid to keep separate lists for home, work, projects, etc...  I manage several lists, which cover home repairs, work projects, additions for this site, among others.  I have also found that over time, you won't need a large spreadsheet to manage everything & simple lists may do.  At this point, after so many years, I can easily maintain my lists in my smart phone.  I do this using an Android app called "GTasks".  Since the tasks can be easily added/edited/removed from the lists in my smart phone & the data syncs with my Gmail account.  So whether I have my smart phone or I'm some PC, I have easy access to my time management / task information. And isn't that all we need, a way to keep a easily manage a list???

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