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Effective time management is an indispensable skill. In Time Management Fundamentals, Dave Crenshaw explains how to sensibly allocate time in order to achieve greater productivity. Dave details a set of principles for staying organized, consolidating the workspace, keeping a clear mind, and developing a time budget. Also covered are techniques for managing a full inbox, processing email, and reserving time for the most important activities. Exercise files accompany the course.
Now that I've explained the principle of keeping your mind clear, let's talk about how you actually go about clearing your mind of its many to-do's. If you're like most people, then you have accumulated a vast pile of to-do's, unresolved items that are floating around in your head. We have to clear all of those items out of your head and get them into an approved gathering point; this will make it easy for you to process them in the future. The easiest way to do this is to use a list of mental triggers.
We've provide a handout that you can download that gives you a list of triggers for every single aspect of your life, both work and personal. Please download the mental triggers list, and I'll show you how this is done. By using this list, you'll be able to clear everything from your mind and get it into an approved gathering point. The process is really pretty simple. First, read through each trigger on the list one at a time and think about that trigger. If anything comes to mind that's unresolved, write it down. Then move to the next trigger on the list and repeat.
If something comes to mind that's completely unrelated to the trigger, great. Go ahead and write that down, and if nothing comes to mind, that's fine too. Just move on to the next one on the list. I compare this to mining for gold. As you go through the list, you'll have lots of spots where nothing comes to mind, and then finally, you'll hit a rich vein of unresolved tasks and to-do's, and you'll just mine that for a while. So don't feel that you need to only write down one item per trigger or that you're not doing things right if nothing comes to mind.
This will be easier to understand if I show you an example of how this is done. You're welcome to follow along on this practice run. I'm going to read a trigger from the list and you will think about the trigger. Then you will put down the tasks in an approved gathering point, in this case a notepad. Let's go ahead and practice for just five items on the list. Got your gathering point ready? Let's begin. Filing and a reference plan, gathering points, areas to organize or clean, computers, monitors or printers, software. Let's stop here.
By now you should have a good idea of how this mind-clearing activity works. It's fairly simple. Now while you can do this by yourself, I'd recommend you find a partner to help you. It's easier to clear your mind with a partner, because having someone else read the list aloud, will help you have less distraction and switches, allowing you to stay focused on clearing on your mind. If you don't have a partner that's available right now to help you, you may want to contact someone and set up a time in both your calendars when you can sit down and go through the entire list.
In my experience this process takes about an hour. Once you're finished, your mind will be cleared and you're to-do's will be in an approved gathering point.
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