This is the compulsory bit! Must have three things, and the first one is a master list. Everything, all written down, in one place. What happens if you don't. Stress, reactive, unable to plan. What it might physically be like. Minimal time required! What goes on your master list - one off projects. No need to know when you will do them.
- If you have one time management system, it should be this one. It's so simple, it takes almost no time, and it feels good to do. It's to make a master list of everything. Everything that you need to do, written down in one place. Now, what do I mean by everything? Well, you don't need to bother with "get up, get dressed, have breakfast, "drive to work". In fact, you don't need to write down anything that's routine. This is a list of just the big things, the one-offs, that you want to do.
If fact, must do at some point. You probably don't know when you'll do them, but they must be done at some point. So, just add them all to the list. What will the list physically be like? Well, it could be written down on a piece of paper, or typed in a Word document, or a spreadsheet. Or it could be a mind map on a white board, or on a tablet, whatever works for you. Personally, I think having the list on the wall works well because you can't ignore it. You see it every day. Whereas, if you write in the back of your diary, you could easily forget to look at it.
Personally, I like a mind map, with all the main categories of my life, with branches for all the projects in those areas. But if you want it on your phone, or your laptop, that's fine, too. And if you prefer a list to a diagram, that's fine. Whatever works for you. As long as you do have this one list with everything on it. People sometimes say to me, "But if I wrote a list of everything, "I'd be depressed by the size of it." And I've got two answers to that. First, it's better to know than not know.
You might as well face up to the problem. If the list really is too large to manage, then you know you have to reduce it. You'll have to delegate more, delete some items, or at least, delay the less urgent ones until later. But my second point is that the list won't be that bad because everything on it will either be not that urgent, or it'll be not that important. How do I know this? Because there won't be anything on there that's both urgent and important.
There can't be. Because you would've already done those things. Who writes on their master list, "leave burning building before roof collapses", or, "deal with big crisis with client"? These urgent and important things, you'll just do immediately, leaving only the important but not urgent for your list. With a few urgent but not important ones as well. So, the list will be fine. You'll love it. In fact, people who have a master list always say to me that they'd be gutted if I took it away from them.
If I destroyed it, they'd immediately make another one because it gives them a feeling of control. This list is your raw material for all your planning. Without a master list, you'll not be able to plan. You'll not be able to unpick the important from the urgent, and get the balance right between those. You'll end up losing control of your life, and letting other people dictate what you do next when they chase you for urgent things. Everything will be left until it's urgent, which will add to the stress of not knowing how much you've got to do, and not knowing if you've forgotten anything.
If fact, without this list, you will forget things. And things will turn from not urgent to urgent without you realizing until it's too late. The master list is essential. But how much time will it take? Well, I reckon about 15 minutes to get most of it done. And then, a few more minutes to think of the things you've missed. These will come to you as you walk around in your normal day, or you're driving home or whatever. So, just add them as they crop up. Then, upkeep of the list is minimal because these are the big jobs.
You won't complete them very fast. And you won't add many new ones. So, it's maybe only a couple of minutes a week. That's all you need to keep it up-to-date. And that's got to be time well spent. I urge you to write one now, if you don't have one. A partial list, or a list in several places, isn't good enough. It's got to be complete, all in one place. That's the only way to have the full view of all your priorities. So, is yours going to be on a computer, or on paper? Are you going to have a straight list, or a mind map?
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- Managing your inbox
- Managing repetitive tasks
- Using lists and calendars
- Maximizing spare time
- Organizing information digitally and on paper
- Getting the most out of technology and software
- Writing effective email
- Reducing filing