By Clare Kumar
I read an article recently that suggested that the average worker uses 13 different time management tools. The most common tools fall within the following three categories:
1. To Do Lists
As discussed in the last article, I suggest creating master lists to capture personal and professional activities, most of which must be scheduled. Daily lists are helpful to keep you focused on immediate tasks. Make sure your lists can be referred to and updated with ease.
To do lists can be incorporated into paper planners work journals or notebooks. I recommend reserving several pages at the front or back of each book solely for to do lists so they are quick to find.
2. Planners and Calendars
Calendars exist in a huge variety of formats to visually portray the abstract passing of time. Traditionally, and still in use in many places, are monthly wall calendars which give a broad perspective of time and any upcoming events and deliverables. Wipe off versions make it easy to make changes.
Mobility drives the need for portable systems such as paper planners or personal digital assistants (PDA’s) and smartphones. Paper planners have been not only important time management tools but style statements in recent years.
The evolution to electronic calendars is not yet for everyone. Phone screens provide a reasonable account of a day’s activities but fall short of providing a detailed week view at a glance. Combinations of an electronic calendar and portable monthly calendars highlighting key dates can be very effective. Numerous phone-based applications are available and being developed to assist with prioritization and task management.
The number of people referring to a calendar must also be considered when choosing a time management system. Online calendars make it easy to share schedules between people. Privacy can be maintained by only making selective entries public. These solutions can work well for shared personal calendars in conjunction with the planning system you adopt for business.
3. Time Keepers
Watches and clocks are obvious timekeepers, but so are our electronic calendar systems with easy-to-program alarm systems to help us keep track of time. Alarms can be set at varying amounts of time in advance of meetings or due dates, helping not only to keep us on time but not lose track of upcoming deadlines.
Be wary, however, of potentially unnecessary alarms, such as email notifications, becoming a distraction.
Timekeepers can be such an important part of the way we live that we can even get attached to them. I rely on an old phone just for its soothing ‘Chi Gong’ alarm sound to wake me each morning.
Coming up next in the series: Time Management Tips
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