Have you ever read any books on time management? I’m sure you read maybe few of them or at least read articles/blogs and of course heard a lot. Have you ever tried some time management techniques? I’m sure you tried. Have you ever failed in those tries? I guess you did. And if you did not fail, than you are probably very lucky person. I believe I have an answer why those fail, or at least failed for me. Reason is – none of particular techniques that I tried really matched my personality and my style of work. There are things that simply cannot work for you. That’s it.
So what do I recommend to make it happen?
Play more and more with different (!) techniques, think about them, think why they work and don’t work for you. Also try to mix them. Try to adapt what you learnt more and never be precise to what is written in the book.
And here is what I think works for me
I have two paper notebooks. One I always have with myself when I’m outside of the work and another is always at work. I never forget working one at home and vice-versa.
Work-notebook. Usually I write to this notebook as I go. Anything could go there – meeting minutes, my thoughts, items to work on, even some bad words if I’m not satisfied with meeting I’m attending. I would have used laptop instead, but I’m not at position/company where guys have laptops for work.
Personal-notebook. Is something where everything goes planned per each day. For example I can put there to have haircut on Friday. But I also like to list there items for the next day that are related to work, grouped by need in them. Something like “must”, “nice”, ”awesome” so in the end of the day when I take a look at it and I did everything from “must” section I’m already satisfied with my day and if I did something from “nice” or “awesome” I’m proud of myself.
Plan Of Attack
I have txt file located at my working desktop called “Plan of Attack.txt”. It is very similar to what you would have called “todo.txt”, but except of writing there things I need to work on, I also put anything that could come into my mind while working on something else. For example while I was working on coding stuff X, I realized that I need to send short e-mail to customer on feature Y. Even if this e-mail could be short, instead of writing it immediately I do my “Alt+Tab” and document “e-mail on Y”, which is probably one second to do. By this process I did not lose my concentration on stuff X and I avoided stress for my memory to remember about that Y.
I utilize Outlook very much for planning stuff for the day along with applying “pomodoro” technique. This is also very interesting that I have 15-30 minutes appointments in outlook that look like “Plan of attach and e-mails”. During that time I work on my inbox and I also reorganize what I have in my magic file by simply changing order items are located in file. Those at the top have higher priority. Once I sent e-mail on Y appropriate line disappears from my list.
I try to stay maximum focused on things I do, and this is very much propagated by pomodoro technique. My outlook has 30 minutes personal appointments, I mark them as “free time”, so it shows people that they anyway can schedule meeting with me at that point of time. Also if I have to much external interruption (e.i. guys asking questions) I put a note at the paper near me with label “I’m available starting from xx:xx”. So during 25 minutes I just do my job, say “Pomodoro: Coding – Security” or “Pomodoro: E-mails”, very focused. Here is also one important note: I do not use this technique if I feel that I’m concentrated at work and have no issues with continuing what I do. I can continuously work on coding something during 2 hours and still be focused. I do not interrupt myself by these “tomatoes” if such things happen (usually at night).
Free time which is never free
I also have free spots, of course they are always occupied by something I need to help on, on short conversations with others and many other things that steal our time. But there is pros. in free spots – I can spend it on my further planning and I can go through my scribbles in notebooks and… I have time to relax.
Spend time wisely
When someone cannot be in time with task they do there are doubts if they spend their time wisely. Having this doubt can be fair and can be not. People always have different vision on what is important for other people and what is definition of “done”. Doesn’t matter how much stuff you’ve done and will do, please always know why you do everything in your life.
Key things to the whole damn time management:
- Every thought or task is documented, so your mind if free to do what it is intended to do at the moment
- Have time to reorganize tasks and plan them
- Be maximum focused on tasks you do at the moment
- Have time to relax and think about things you do and will do in future
Thank you very much for reading this blog post, looking forward to hear feedbacks from you.