Thursday, May 26, 2011

Time Management and Planning System

Four Key Time Management Concepts:
1.       It is impossible to do everything you think you should, could or might do!
2.       Time management is about making decisions of what not to do, what to do and when to do it.  So, you need a decision making process.
3.       Time management is about getting things done rather than doing more things.
4.       Time Blocks are more effective than To Do Lists.

The 6-Step Time Management Decision Making Process
Step 1.
DOWNLOAD at the end of each week.  Write down every task and “to do” item filling your mind.  At the end of each week, find a quiet time where you will not be interrupted.  List every single job and task you can think of, even little ones.  They are all taking up processing space (RAM) in that wonderful mind of yours.  Leave too much in there and it will crash.
Step 2.
CLASSIFY.  Assign each item to a category (e.g. Business, Financial, Personal, etc.).  This will give you a picture of the balance between various parts of your life and will help with the prioritization step.
Step 3.
RANK.  Put each item on your list into one of the following four time quadrants:

Something is important only if it will have a major positive impact when it is done OR a major negative impact if it is not done.

Something is urgent if it has to be done by the end of next week or sooner.  Something that has a deadline that’s more than a week away is not urgent even if it is important!  Relax, the time management system will give you time/space to get it done.

This is a critical part of the decision process.  Apply these rules rigidly! 

Step 4.
BREAK EACH DEMAND and ZONE TASK/ITEM INTO STEPS.  To Do Lists don’t work because they don’t distinguish between things that require lots of time and effort and those that don’t.   Break Important tasks (both Demand and Zone) down into the steps required to get them accomplished.

For tasks in the DEMAND and ZONE quadrants only:
·         Start from the end and work backwards
·         Identify WHAT steps are required to complete the task/item?
·         Guess how much TIME is required to complete each step.
·         Identify WHO needs to do or can do each step (great opportunity to delegate, get leverage here).
·         List the RESOURCES (materials, money, knowledge etc.) you’ll need at each step.
·         If needed and useful, draw a flowchart tying the steps together.
Step 5.
SCHEDULE.  Give your important tasks a place to live within your upcoming week.

Key Concept: Assign blocks of time to your tasks.  Your commitments are shown as specific periods of time instead of a line on a To Do list.
·         Use a weekly calendar with ½ hour time slots.  (Google Calendar is excellent for this.  It’s free, can be accessed anywhere that’s connected to the Internet and can be shared with others.)
·         Start by blocking out appointments and meetings you have already committed to (it’s surprising how much time a simple “yes” can steal)If these items repeat from week to week, set them up as repeating appointments.  Add separate times for reading e-mail, returning voice mail and planning your week.
·         Then, allocate times to complete specific steps identified in step 4 for your DEMAND and ZONE items.

Be sure to leave gaps between the blocks of time to deal with unexpected and unplanned demands – and to account for the time we waste doing DISTRACTIONS (hopefully, you recognize by now that you should not be spending any time on DELUSIONS).

You can color code the blocks of time to identify the categories you established in step 2.


Be sure to give priority to ZONE activities: spend at least 4-6 hours per week working ON your business instead of IN you business.  This is where you’ll get the biggest impact on your life.
Step 5.
FIGHT FOR YOUR TIME.  Fight yourself – don’t let DELUSIONS and DISTRACTIONS get in your way.  And fight others – learn how to say no.  Don’t let others steal your time.

At first, your commitment to manage your time better will be challenged –  by phone calls, email, text messages, clients, co-workers and family.

Stay consistent for 4 weeks and you’ll be AMAZED at the impact on your life.

TIP: Deal with potential disruptions by saying “Great, I’ll be with you at (specify time/day)”. There are very few things can’t be put off for a little while.
Step 6.
REPEAT, REVIEW and RESET.  At the end of each week, add new tasks, delete completed ones, reschedule tasks you weren’t able to complete and remove those that you realize are no longer worthy of your most important asset: TIME.

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