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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.
This course qualifies for 2.75 Category A professional development units (PDUs) through lynda.com, PMI Registered Education Provider #4101.
Now we're ready to do a brief walkthrough. I'm going to show you how to process a few example emails. This first email is a newsletter that I want to receive. I am going to ask myself, what is the next step? The next step is to create the rule. When will it be done? Right now, because it's five minutes or less. And where is its home? Let's answer that by creating the rule. I'll right-click and select Create Rule. I'll select whenever it's an email from this person, move the items to this folder, and then I'll create a folder under Resource called Newsletters.
I'll click OK, click yes to all emails in the folder, and there, I've created the rule. It's processed. Let's do another email. Here is an email from Judith asking me if I can attend an appointment next week. So I ask myself the question, what is the next step? The next step is I check my calendar and see if I'm available. When will it be done? Well, can I check my calendar in five minutes or less? Yes, of course I can. So I open up my calendar and take a look.
The time they suggested will not work for me. I have a conflict. So I need to start the processing system over again. What's the next step? Send a reply to them proposing a new time. When will it be done? Well, it can be done now, because it can be done in five minutes or less, and where is its home? When I'm done with it, I'll put it in the Resource folder. So I send a reply saying here is the time that I'll be available. And then I hit Send, and now I am done with that email, so I can drag and drop it into Resource.
But before I do that, let's imagine it's really important that I have this meeting with Judith. Let's say that I have to follow up and make sure that the meeting takes place. In that case, there is a next step after this, right? So what I'm going to do is take this email and create a task for myself by copying and pasting the details from the email. So I copy all the information from the email, and then I open up a task and paste that into the notes of that task.
By the way, in Outlook, all I have to do with that email is drag and drop it to the Tasks button and that will get me the same result. Then I type in the Subject line, I'm waiting for Judith's reply on the meeting. Finally, I have the answer to where it is its home. I am going to put a reminder to myself of the date and time by which I want to hear back from Judith. Finally, I have to answer the where is its home question. Well, the home for this one is going to be the category of @ Waiting For. I hit Save.
Finally, I'm done with the email, so I drag and drop it to the Resource folder and I'm done. Now I don't have to worry about it anymore. The computer will do all the reminding for me. Let's do one more quick example dealing with scheduling some work for myself. Here is an email with someone telling me that I need to visit this site to learn more information to see if this is a service we want to use. So I ask myself, what's the next step? It's to visit the site.
When will it be done? Well, let's say it's something that I think I really want to give some good thought to. I may spend 30 minutes looking at the site and really analyzing it carefully. So in that case, the 'when will it be done?' must be calendared. Why? Because since it will take over 15 minutes, I must budget time for this step. So I copy the email, then I open up the Calendar window, and create a new appointment, and paste in the email info.
So I'm going to schedule this time for 30 minutes, making sure that I have buffer space on either side, because I don't want to schedule myself too tightly. I'll categorize this appointment as @ Computer, meaning the only resource I need is my computer. Finally, where is its home? All processed email, except for the obvious deletions, go into the Resource folder. I drag and drop it there, and it's complete. Processing email is very similar to processing physical items.
The only difference is the medium and the tool you're using, but the principle stays exactly the same. Now that I've given you a walkthrough of three different emails, it's time for you to practice and start to condition yourself to using the "what, when, where" processing system. Now is the time for you to begin building muscle memory. So to practice the training I just gave you, spend one hour processing your email. Do it right now. Get through as many emails as you can within one hour.
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