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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.
If you completed the task that I assigned to you earlier, then you've already spent one hour going through and processing items one at a time out of your inbox. If you haven't done that yet, I encourage you to schedule one hour right now to complete that task first before watching this video. Once you've completed that first hour of processing, you'll realize that while you're off to a good start, you likely still have a lot more processing to do. In fact, you'll always be processing, for the rest of your life. With processing, you're going to process every item one at a time from each of your six gathering points.
How do we handle that? The easiest way to do that is to set a recurring appointment in your schedule to do processing. My recommended weekly allowance of processing is five hours a week. Some people need less and some people need more. After you've worked your system for a while, adjust to your needs. But let's start with five hours for now. When should you schedule that five hours a week? To find the best time for your recurring processing schedule, consider the times at which you are least likely to be interrupted.
All of us have interruptions in our day, but there are also ebbs and flows in your weekly schedule to those interruptions. Look at your calendar and find the natural times at which you are least likely to be interrupted. For instance, let's say that earlier in the morning, I'm usually not bothered by other people. In that case, I could schedule every morning from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. for processing. That would give me five hours a week based on a Monday-through-Friday week.
Incidentally, I recommend you do not schedule in increments of less than one hour of time. Why? Because usually you get in to your rhythm when it comes to processing at about the 25 to 30 minute mark, so schedule at minimum one hour at a time. You can even schedule entire chunks of time, such as five hours of processing in a day. What if I prefer to work in a larger chunk of time? I could schedule every Friday from 8 a.m. to noon.
That's four hours, and I'll give myself an hour lunch break, and then schedule another hour from 1 to 2. That way I get all my processing done in one day. Are you concerned that I'm asking you to spend five hours a week? Keep in mind that you're probably spending two or three times that right now already. When are you processing right now? You're processing throughout your day back and forth, all over the place. All this system is asking you to do is to do it at a set time, at a set place, and leave all the rest of the time for doing the work, for performing the tasks.
Processing is simply the act of deciding what, when, and where. It's up to you to decide what works best for you. Right now, please pause the video and set up in your calendar your recurring schedule for processing, at least five hours each week. Then come back for one last step. Pause here to schedule your recurring processing here. We're almost done with scheduling your processing, but not completely. What about the backlog, in particular, the backlog of all those boxes? Some of you may not have had very many boxes when you did the gathering, but some of you may have many boxes--perhaps dozens.
No matter how many boxes you have, you'll need to schedule extra time for processing, just this once. In general, schedule one extra hour per large unfinished box. This means that if you had ten boxes beyond your normal inbox, you'll have to schedule an extra ten hours of processing. You don't need to go through it all now or even next week, but try to schedule this to occur as soon as you possibly can, and is reasonable for your schedule.
Try to complete the processing of these boxes within the next month. I've seen many clients have a very liberating experience when they bring the backlog of inboxes to zero for the first time. So please, once this video stops, go to your calendar immediately, and also schedule time for your backlog of large inbox processing. Schedule at least one hour per large unfinished box.
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