Tuesday, January 03, 2012

get in line with time!

so its the first day of work for the new year for moi today. and already await for us in the office this morning were some courier boxes of diary and calendars from client's hq. i was like: oh, yeah! as you could see these are normally the things i always look forward to when we reached the new year~


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you may be a really switched on human being with an incredible memory, but no matter how clever and good your memory is you will still need to use a diary/organiser.

why do you need to use a diary?

let’s consider the limitations on our short memory for a moment.

psychological research tells us that we can only hold on average only 7 (plus or minus 2) pieces of information in our short term memory at a time. your brain cannot handle too much information all at once.

in order for you to cope with your work effectively it’s going to make a difference if you can reduce the demands on your memory/mind. you need to reduce your mental load.

by far the easiest way to reduce your mental load is by using your diary/organiser. you will be able to work more effectively if you take things out of your head (e.g. “crs due on thursday” and “bct on friday”) and dump them into your organizer. it is important to plan your work and work your plan.

i have set out below some key points for getting into the habit of writing a list and managing the list:

before writing a list as part of your time management skills, you should always check your diary for that day, as if you use effective diary control to make appointments with yourself for the tasks you need to carry out, there will always be daily entries in the diary. this is a starting point for a regimen of organization that eliminates clutter from the mind.

remember the 80/20 principle; 80% of things on your time management list will produce 20% of the results and 20% of the list will produce 80% of the results. a key element of time management training is to always remember this rule and work on the key areas that produce the important results.

so, first thing to do is:

make your list — get yourself in to the habit of writing a time management list every day, try to write the list at the same time daily so as it forms a habit. some will do the time management list first thing in the morning while others use time management skills to prepare the list the night before, just before you leave work—leaving it on your desk for as soon as you arrive the following morning.

the important thing is to get into the habit of writing a list each day on one piece of paper (not a thousand yellow stickies all over your pc). the reasoning behind this is once again organization, if your desk is soaking up your attention with several “to-do’s” but no flow to any, it renders the time management moot.

REMEMBER: 1 sheet of paper, 1 list, not a bunch of sticky notes

the list should take no more than 10 minutes maximum to compile. time management is not about having loads of things on your list, it is about having the most important things on your list.

REMEMBER: it is the important items that get listed

you must allow time for emergency changes in your daily schedule. no matter how effective you are at training yourself in the skills of time management, there will always be the possibility of unscheduled important tasks popping up or interruptions etc.

REMEMBER: the lists get screwed up a lot

be realistic with your time management lists and try your best to allocate each task a start time and finish time. group similar tasks together for momentum and remember to carry forward items from one day to the other (only if they are important and must be action-ed). another key element to this concept is to never set a goal or deadline that is impossible to reach. there is no feat a person cannot accomplish, but if only given a few hours, the stress builds. that’s not to say pressure to work isn’t healthy, but reasonable is key.

REMEMBER: allocate the time to a task

even think of rewarding yourself after each task has been done and crossed off the time management list. remember the key saying in effective time management skills training is:

what i am doing now helping me to achieve my objective?

practice, practice, practice so that the time management skills become automated!