Traffic had been crawling along, stop-and-go, but now it was more like stop-and-stay-stopped. Drumming his fingers on the steering wheel, Alan looked at the clock: seven minutes until the next traffic report. The problem was most likely the underpass at 217, flooded again. If so, home was far off in Alan's future. Problem was, he was about to pass the Mall exit, and so he had to make a decision now.
Then Alan had an idea. "The Mall exit won't get me home," he thought, "but I can sit out this traffic in one of the mall's three bookstores. Maybe even pick up that book on time management that's been on my to-do list for months."
Have you been meaning to buy a book about time management? Or perhaps you've bought one but haven't read it. How many of us have time management books that we don't have time to read?
If this problem is familiar, read on — the next few minutes might just change your life.If you've been meaning
to read a book on
but you can't
find the time,
- Work in bigger chunks
- Every time you're interrupted, or you change from one task to another, you need 10 or 15 minutes to get back into flow. Limit interruptions. Turn off your automatic email checker, and use caller ID to decide whether to answer the phone. Ask yourself whether you're using email and telephone to avoid or postpone the difficult parts of the task you're doing. See "Recovering Time: I," Point Lookout for February 23, 2005, for more.
- Schedule it
- Adding something to your "To Do" list doesn't get the job done. Instead of listing it, schedule it. If the task is too big and amorphous to do in one chunk, or even to estimate, schedule the first doable chunk, and then schedule some time to estimate and schedule the rest. Review the schedule regularly, just as if it were a project, because it is.
- When you think of it, capture it
- Don't let ideas or remembered must-dos escape. Capture them in writing. Set aside time each day to deal with what you've captured — either to schedule it or to reject it.
- Be selective about reading
- If you feel the need to read a time management book, go ahead, but make three promises to yourself. First, schedule time to read the book. Second, remember that it's difficult to incorporate into your life more than a few big ideas from any book you read cover-to-cover. Finally, answer this question: "Is reading the entire book really worth it?"
- Feel progress
- As you transform how you work, some changes might be very gradual, and you might not notice them. Rather than measuring progress, focus on your new feeling of order. Notice how you have time for long-forgotten pleasures.
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More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:
- Discussion Distractions: II
- Meetings are less productive than they might be, if we could learn to recognize and prevent the most
common distractions. Here is Part II of a small catalog of distractions frequently seen in meetings.
- The Reification Error and Performance Management
- Just as real concrete objects have attributes, so do abstract concepts, or constructs. But attempting
to measure the attributes of constructs as if they were the attributes of real objects is an example
of the reification error. In performance management, committing this error leads to unexpected and unwanted
- How to Reject Expert Opinion: II
- When groups of decision makers confront complex problems, and they receive opinions from recognized
experts, those opinions sometimes conflict with the group's own preferences. What tactics do groups
use to reject the opinions of people with relevant expertise?
- How to Waste Time in Meetings
- Nearly everyone hates meetings. The main complaint: they're mostly a waste of time. The main cause:
us. Here's a field manual for people who want to waste even more time.
- Disjoint Awareness: Systematics
- Organizations use some policies and processes that can cause people in collaborations to have inaccurate
understandings of what each other is doing. Performance management, politics, and resource allocation
processes can all contribute to disjoint awareness.
See also Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness for more related articles.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming February 1: The Big Power of Little Words
- Big, fancy words, like commensurate or obfuscation, tend to be more noticed than the little everyday words, like yet or best. That might be why the little words can be so much more powerful, steering conversations where their users want them to go. Available here and by RSS on February 1.
- And on February 8: Kerfuffles That Seem Like Something More
- Much of what we regard as political conflict is a series of squabbles commonly called kerfuffles. They captivate us while they're underway, but after a month or two they're forgotten. Why do they happen? Why do they persist? Available here and by RSS on February 8.
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