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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 you've created a time budgeter for your most valuable activities, I'd like to take you through a few examples of how you can use it effectively. Watch how I use the time budgeter as a tool to help me answer the 'when will it be done' question of the "what, when, where" processing system. For example, let's suppose I'm about to process a note I wrote down reminding me to create a system to train Aaron on how to better manage employees. What's the next step? The next step is I'm going to pull out my systems template and begin writing.
When will it be done this is definitely going to take me longer than 15 minutes, so I know what has to go to the calendar. I think it'll be probably take me 90 minutes. I then refer to my time budget calendar, which shows me the best time to complete this type of activity. So, I first find the time that I budget on Wednesday afternoon to write systems and I scheduled those 90 minutes there. Here is another example. Let's say that I have an idea or an opportunity to write an article for a newspaper. Writing is one of my most valuable activities.
So what is the next step? I'm going to brainstorm ideas for the article. When it will be done? Well, let's say it's going to take me 30 minutes to brainstorm. I scheduled Friday as my writing time budget. I'm going to schedule 30 minutes in my calendar during that writing time budget. Having the time budget makes it easy for me to figure out where to put things. What if I'm processing an item that isn't my most valuable activity? It's an LVA, or least valuable activity.
Let's say my accountant sent me an email that says we need to review my finances for last year. It's important but not one of my top two most valuable activities. My accountant in his email asks me if I can scheduled the meeting on Friday at 10 o'clock during the time I budgeted for writing. You'll have situations just like this where you'll be tempted to schedule less valuable activities on top of your time budget for your most valuable activities.
Don't do it. Just because someone proposed a meeting time to you does not mean you have to respond to the first option that they give you. So I replied back to my accountant and say I'm not available Friday at 10 o'clock. Can we meet on--and I look at my calendar and find a place where I don't have any conflicts on my time budget. Monday morning looks good, so I send an email, can we meet Monday at 11 instead.
For some of you, protecting your time budget might not be a challenge. For everyone else, for those of you who have the tendency to say 'yes' too quickly, make sure you use your time budget as a guide. Refer back to it before making a schedule commitment, whether you're responding to a meeting request or you are scheduling work for yourself to do. Protect your most valuable activities and you'll increase the value of your time.
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