Time Management Notes

Recently I’ve been reading some time management literature by the likes of Brian Tracy and Stephen Covey. I thought I’d share the notes I…

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Recently I’ve been reading some time management literature by the likes of Brian Tracy and Stephen Covey. I thought I’d share the notes I wrote while studying.

Psychology of Time Management

The four D’s of effectiveness:

  • Desire — Have a burning passion to achieve.

  • Decisiveness — Put in 100% of yourself into it.

  • Determination — Have the grit needed to not give up.

  • Discipline — Cultivate yourself in the long-term.

  • Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

  • Law of Control states that the amount of self-worth is determined by how in control we feel we are of our lives.

  • Positively visualize yourself as a good time manager, reaffirm this by telling others the same thing. Reprogram your brain. Fake it until you make it.

Determine your Values

What do you value the most? Realize you are extraordinary. Analyze yourself:

  • I am…

  • People are…

  • Life is…

  • My biggest goal in life (or another category) is…

Think about your Vision and Mission

  • Think (slowly) before acting. Stand back and engage in self-analysis and introspection.

  • Keep the end in mind. What will your life look like when you look back on your 80th birthday? Why are you doing the things you do?

  • Examine your methodology. Once you know what you’re doing, ask yourself how are you trying to do it. Then, ask yourself how it’s going. Question all of your assumptions.

  • Seek a better way. Once you ask yourself ‘how’s it going?’, see if you can find something better. There is more to life than just increasing speed. Ask the tough questions.

Project Forward, Look Backward

  • Take 30 minutes each day before it starts to review your goals, progress and plans. Think (slowly) about what you’re doing before you take action.

  • True greatness only emerges from introspection, retrospection, solitude and contemplation.

  • Ask yourself what you should be doing today to have the greatest impact in your life five years from now.

  • Back from the future thinking. Make better decisions in the present, ignore instant gratification.

  • Every action you make either leads you down the path you want to go or steers you away from it.

  • Time management can only speed up where you’re going to go, not change where that place is.

Make Written Plans

  • Every minute spent in planning saves you ten minutes in execution.

  • Once you are clear about a goal, write down everything you need to do in order to accomplish it. Then, organize by sequence and priority.

  • Sequence is organizing things chronologically, from the first step to the final one.

  • Priority is organizing things by their importance and impact, focusing on the 20% of the goals that will accomplish 80% of the results.

  • Even the largest goal can be achieved if it’s broken down into smaller parts.

  • Review your plan and goals daily and when you feel frustrated by them. All plans have flaws and risks so it’s good to search out the ones in yours.

  • Taking action before planning leads to failure. Do not be tempted to take action before planning it out.

Planning for goal achievement. Clarity is the next more important aspect of planning. Ask yourself:

  • Why difficulties and obstacles are you facing? Why haven’t you reached your goal yet? What are the 20% of problems that create 80% of the obstacles in your way?

  • What additional skills, knowledge or information is needed to achieve my goal?

  • What help do I need from others to achieve my goal? Of all the help I could ask for, what would be the most effective?

  • Create a visual (a PERT chart) landscape to see what goals you need to accomplish in order to reach newer ones. Chart things out and set clear goals for everyone.

Create your Daily To-do List

  • Take twelve to fifteen minutes every night before going to bed to write out what you want to accomplish tomorrow. It will make sleeping easier.

Once you have written out what you want to accomplish it, assign it a label from the ABCDE method. The way to do this is to think about the consequences of each individual task:

  • A is for things that absolutely must be done.

  • B is for things that should be done.

  • C is for things that could be done, but don’t need to be.

  • D is for things that can be delegated to somebody else.

  • E is for things that can be eliminated, or your ‘not to-do’ list.

  • Set clear priorities, use the law of three.

  • Stay on track. Ask yourself what the most valuable way to spend your time is right at the moment.

  • Ask yourself if a task is important and/or urgent. Try to spend the most amount of your time on tasks that are important, but not urgent — and vice versa.

  • Avoid multi-tasking. Explicitly decide what single task you want to focus on. Shut out all other distractions.

Overcome Procrastination

  • Everybody procrastinates, the trick is to procrastinate tasks of low-value.

  • Mentally program yourself to stay on-track. “Just do it now!” is your mantra.

  • Break down large and daunting tasks into smaller sub-tasks.

  • Alternatively, use the ‘salami slice’ method and only work on a task for a certain amount of time.

  • Develop a sincere sense of urgency. One of the most sought-after and rarest traits within a person is to get a job done quickly.

Create Blocks of Time

  • The only way to truly get meaningful work done is to schedule your day into ‘chunks’ where you can work without interruptions.

  • These should be anywhere from sixty to ninety minutes with small breaks in between. Make a ‘Do not Disturb’ sign if you have to.

  • Don’t mix administrative and creative time — know when you have ‘external prime time’ and ‘internal prime time’.

  • Get up earlier to gain more time for ‘chunking’.

Control Interruptions

  • Work all the time that you work. Don’t waste your time at work with anything else.

  • Minimize interruptions, plan out phone calls and emails before you make them to make them as brief as possible.

  • Stand up immediately. Create a sense of urgency for others when they want to ask you about something.

Batch your Tasks

  • Bundle similar tasks together and do them one after the other.

  • Use your email and social media as a servant. Check it once at lunch and then ignore it for the rest of the day.

  • Create an auto-response to let people know they can call you if it’s an emergency.

  • Delete and unsubscribe to everything that isn’t a priority.

  • Avoid telephone tag, when leaving a message, specify when exactly you’ll be available to call back.

Conduct Effective Meetings

  • Calculate the cost of the meeting.

  • Prepare an agenda. Prioritize it and set strict time-limits.

  • Ask more questions.

Read Faster, Remember More

  • Be as deliberate and selective with your reading as possible. Ignore things that aren’t relevant to your work or life.

  • Bunch your reading and learn the techniques of speed-reading.

  • Create and set a system. Use your free time to read and use it as often as possible. Leaders are readers!

Final Tips

  • Invest in personal development. Constantly renew and review things that will make you a better person.

  • Organize your work-space, it will lead to an increase in productivity.

  • Focus and prioritize your inner-life, physical health and relationships.