So why do we treat time cheaply, even when we are stingy with our money?
It's just a lack of mindful application of time. Why don't we spend some time thinking about time management?
I'm Certainly No Expert On Time Management.
My inefficiency is what bothers me the most. I fritter away most of my life.
This self-assessment contradicts what many people think of me: they think I get a lot done. It sure doesn't feel that way in the mirror.
I'm constantly musing on it. And, boy o boy, that is sure a waste of time!
When successful local entrepreneur Mark Schuetz heard me describe my various methods in the struggle against wasting time, he invited me into his Replex Plastics in Mt. Vernon to speak with some of his staff about time management.
Figuring they must be smart people, I was glad to take the time to do that. (Mark is a member of my first Vistage group.)
The conversation scooted all over the place, but always back to one central theme: greater mindfulness can lead to the most effective application of our time.
During this and a few upcoming posts, I will share (with Mark's permission) parts of our discussion. I'll illuminate the clear notes and illustrations (first page at right) recorded during the meeting by Replex project engineer Kara Shell (with her permission, too).
But let's start with…
A True Authority
If you want the expert view on time management, read Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen.
Rob Emrich first showed me this book. It was required reading on Day One for anyone who works in his companies.
Frankly, I've never finished the book.
There's something pathetic about my having not finished a book called Getting Things Done, but don't blame author Allen. I learned so much in the first few chapters that I've not yet continued.
Part of what Allen taught me:
- Eliminate Multi-Tasking. The brain is a computer and, like the one on my desk, only one application can be running in the forefront at a time. It's best if I minimize the application that monitors what else I need to do, so I can focus on what I am doing right now. For that reason, I am to write down any interruption, so I am not spending precious RAM on trying to remember my tasks.
- Use leak-proof buckets. Losing notes is stupid. So I have a variety of places where I put my notes. When my father died decades ago, I inherited his sport coats. Each one had an index card and a stub of pencil in one of the outer pockets. My father clearly had a system — a great system — for trapping information so he didn't have to worry about remembering everything. These pockets were his leak-proof buckets.
- Be organization-minded. Whenever a piece of paper comes my way, I am first to ask, "What is it?" The answers are: trash (throw it away), delegable (send it to the delegate), reference (file it), a task that can be done in two minutes (do it), or a more substantial task (file it and put it on a list of projects). This triage is tremendously effective.
- Next action is everything. Every project on the project list needs to include: the name of the project and — this is key — the next action, however humble, to be taken toward completion of the project. Lists of projects are made much less daunting by identifying the next action for each. A project is scary; the next action is simply a step I can take.
There's much more to Allen's methods. But I wouldn't know.
If your project is "Improve Time Management," I recommend this next action: get Allen's book. (I think I will now finish the book.)
And watch Net Cotton Content for more on the topic.