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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.
The final step of the simple "what, when, and where" processing system is, where is its home? This means that you need to decide where you're going to store a physical or digital item, and also where you need to be to perform the next step. Here are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind when answering the processing question, where is its home. The first phrase to remember is everything has a home and no visitors allowed. This means that items of a similar type should be grouped together and kept separate from everything else.
This makes it much more efficient and easy to find things and put things away in the future. What kind of home should you use? Well, you can use things like folders, boxes, shelves. The method that you use doesn't matter so much, just as long as you create clear boundaries between different items and don't mix them together. Next, what if you think you need to throw the item out? You may have heard the rule, when in doubt throw it out. I would say that's a good rule of thumb when it comes to physical items, such as pieces of paper, and so on.
When it comes to digital items though, when in doubt, keep it. The reason for this is that the cost of digital storage goes down and down every single year, and the ability for search engines to locate these items gets better and better all the time. So when it comes to physical: when in doubt, throw it out. When it comes to digital: when in doubt, keep it. This leads two another rule of thumb regarding where. Keep the information of all the contacts you have, phone numbers, emails, addresses, and so on.
Keep them all in one place that you can access at any time. If you're using a computer rather than a paper planner--which I recommend--then make sure your computer syncs easily with your mobile device. That way you don't waste time searching for those contacts again, or worse yet calling coworkers and asking them to look up information, which interrupts both of you. Another rule of thumb when deciding on the 'where' of processing includes categorizing tasks and calendar items.
Put them into groups of types of tasks, and in particular, according to where you are or what kind of resources you'll need at hand. For instance, you can group all of the tasks that could be performed on the computer into the @computer category. Or you can group all of the items that you need to shop for, into the @shopping category. This makes it easy to find them, depending on the context of where you are at the time.
You can also use a category for recurring meetings. For instance, if I have a regular meeting with Susan every single week at 10 o'clock, if I put all the items I need to discuss with her in my task list under the category of One-to-One Susan, then when I go to the meeting with Susan I can pull open the list and there they all are in one place. So to summarize, the rules of thumb for the where is its home step of processing, everything has a home and no visitors allowed.
With physical items: when in doubt, throw it out. With digital items: when in doubt, keep it. Keep all contacts in one central location, preferably mobile, and categorize all your tasks and calendar items. Use these rules of thumb to answer the where is its home question in processing, and you make it easier to both put things away and find them again quickly.
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