Thursday, January 31, 2008

More on How Do I learn Time Management

My brother Glen stopped in late last night on his way home from travel. He has a book contract with the same publisher that did my other brother Lyle's book. His book is going to be on energy policy. An hour chat with Glen keeps me scared on the impact we are having on the environment - he know all the stats.

Looks like I need to pull up my authoring to keep up. The problem is the SYNNEX Canada CEO job is fairly full as it is.

The Simple To Do List

The basis of virtually all time management systems that I have studied is the simple to do list. Do not let the simplicity fool you. There is power in the basics.

Why the To do List? It reduces the stress of rememberng what to do. It helps you to know how much you have to do so you can tactfully decline tasks or know they will not be done until next week. And most important, it keeps you working on the right things.

More important though is prioritizing the list. The priority should be based on your goals so before prioritizing, look at your goals.

Some Tricks:

One trick that helps me get through tasks on the to do list is to put the first action item I need to do to accomplish the task. Often this causes me to just do it. Often this causes me to be able to do it more easily later.

Another trick is to have a short version of the list so I do not become overwhelmed. If my to do list has 80 things on it, even if they are prioritized, just looking at it will cause stress and often a lower priority task calls out to be done. What I do is simply put the 3-5 most important things to do on a blank sheet on top of my list.

I only have one list. Having multiple scraps of paper with lists can be counterproductive.

I like to spend 5-10 minutes at the end of the day organizing my list. When I miss this time, I find I am less efficient the next day than when I do it.

Time Management is simple. Have a To Do List.


At 7:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice post, Jim. Let me add two comments.

First, it helps to know your own energy flow. You describe reviewing your To Do list at the end of the day. That won't work for me. At the end of the day I want to drop my toolbelt and reach for a beer.

What I need is to go into the next day with my first and important thing to do clear in my mind. I get up and work on it. When I get to the end of the work on that, I stop, run through my day start checklist and figure out what else needs to be done.

I'm very competitive and I've learned to use that as a motivator by competing with myself. My To Do list is five items with point values of 30-15-7-5-3 for a total of sixty. That gives me a "score" for the day that's part of my motivation.

At 8:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the "To-Do" list...

As much as I keep and move everything to digital... I still keep a note pad to the left of my keyboard and on it I write down [with ink] the top 2-7 things that MUST GET DONE today.

As things are accomplished, I cross them off and feel the satisfaction feeling for 1-2 seconds; then on to the next one.

At 10:17 AM, Blogger annette said...

Jim, of all the things I learned working for you (and there were many!) the "TO DO" is the one that sticks out the most and I continue to use!! Even as a stay-at-home mother a to do list makes for a far more efficient and productive day/week. Always enjoy reading your blog and continue to learn from you picking up a tip here and there!! All the best.

At 3:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Being a professional organizer, naturally, I agree with your ToDo list approach. According to statistics I heard on the radio a couple of days ago, 80% of Canadians do have a ToDo list. So why is it that ToDo lists just keep on getting longer. Why is it that, according to the same report, it takes about 60 days for an item to disappear from the list?

The problem with ToDo lists (even if they are prioritized, as they should be), that on a LIST every item is just one line. I.e.: no indication of the TIME period it takes to do it. So here is (a simplified version of) how I suggest to go from To-Do to Done:

· Clear your mind, get rid of every slip of paper with a to-do on it and put it in your TaskPad (if you use Outlook) or on your To-Do list;

· Prioritize and categorize all action items;

· Plan for tomorrow, tonight;

· Review the To-Do list and start moving your desired items on to your CALENDAR; If its not in your Calendar, there is an 80% chance it won’t get done!

· Estimate the TIME for the execution of the task;

· Enter it in the CALENDAR at the time you will do it and with the time period reflected;

· Come the next day, just let your calendar drive your day;

Yes, of course, I hear you ask: “What about the interruptions?” Well, that’s another tip for another time. In any case: it’s helpful to remember: Interruptions occur to the extent you allow them to happen.

Alex Revai

At 3:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I keep my daily To Do list to no more than five things. I'm a very competitive soul and I've found that I can turn that to my advantage by competing with myself. So I give point values to every item on my list. They're 30-15-7-5-3. Keeping score helps keep me motivated and gives me a quick measure how well I'm staying on point.


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