By far my most popular class is on time management. By far the most common topic with my individual clients is time management. Busy professionals grapple with the management of their time more than almost anything.
Management of your time is an interesting and involved topic. I want to address just one point here –experimentation. You can read a lot of books and you can attend workshops like mine. But in the end you will need to try different techniques. Different personalities have different ways to effectively manage their time.
For example, take the topic of listing and completing all your daily tasks. For some people it works well to put all the tasks they have to do on the calendar in specific time slots. That way they allot time for each activity and they know when it will get done. Following the calendar becomes a no-brainer. There is much to be said for not having to decide what to take on as your day progresses.
For other people, though, this may feel too constrictive. These people may write a list of what needs to get done in a day and it may work for them to simply go back repeatedly to the list. For the first group of people that might not work because they would get distracted and not get back to the list or they might have a hard time prioritizing which item on the list to do first.
I had one client who created her list on a computer and she had cute little icons by each task – clipart of a phone by the phone calls, for example. She went through her list at the end of every day. She kept her document neat and usually did not even print it out. At the end of the day, she would delete the tasks she had completed from the list and re-do her list for the next day. I had another client with a much more expressive personality who had a piece of notebook paper with “to do” items written all over it. He folded it up into a very small square and he carried it in his pocket. When he took it out and unfolded it, it was a bedraggled looking thing. If a judge asked for something by a particular date, this piece of paper would come out and he would write on it. And it worked. Beginning to use this system for him marked the end of forgetting tasks that he tried to carry in his head. This worked for him, but would not have worked for my other client.
In the end, you must experiment. This is frankly true of most changes you want to make. Try things out to see how they fit. Don’t just think about them in your head and dismiss them because they don’t seem like they would work. When you are making changes, particularly in the area of time management, many things will “sound like” they would never work. The truth is you don’t really know if something will work unless you actually try it out. So – pick a new time management idea, try it for a week or two, then evaluate how well it worked, tweak it or throw it out and then try something else.
Now let me ask, as I do at the end of my time management class, “What will you try?”