Time Management Tactics

Time management using Open calendar with pen and coffee

How many time management courses have you attended? How many books on this topic have you read?  What tactics or strategies do you employ to manage your time?

I still have the first time management book I read, “If You Haven’t Got the Time to Do It Right, When Will You Find the Time to Do It Over,” written by Jeffrey Mayer back in 1991. It was a bundle offer when I ordered from Day-Timer that year. You can read about my adventures with planning systems in this post.

Time Tracking is not Time Management

I can recall at least two different employer-mandated time tracking programs in my career. At one job, we had an empty pre-printed notebook that we had to fill out each day and leave on our desk for management review. The other employer had a distributed Microsoft Access application for similar purposes. Neither helped one to manage time, but it gave management a warm fuzzy.

Over the years I have found that categorizing how I spend my time is more valuable them tracking the time. I organize my time into Goals, Requests, Urgent Demands, Ideation, and Household Duties. Within each category, I keep a running list of things I need to do. Each evening I decide what I need to accomplish the next day. Throughout the day, I will capture the time spent in each category – not task by task – and cross completed items off my list. At the conclusion of the day, I review my accomplishments and plan for the next day.

Popular Time Management Systems

There are many time management systems in existence. I’m going to try and list a few of them and make a note of ones that I have tried. As of this moment, I’m not following any particular published methodology; instead, I am doing what works for me.

The one thing that I remember from the Jeffrey Mayer system was TRAF: Trash, Refer, Act, or File. That process has stuck with me throughout the years. Every piece of paper, or every email, I try to categorize it as (a) something I can Trash, (b) something I can refer to someone else to act upon, (c) act upon the item right away, or (d) file it.

I finally got around to read the “Getting Things Done” book in 2007. The initial method is to empty your brain of everything and from that list, decide what to do each day. That worked for the first few days, but the list grew to an overwhelming size.

The Franklin Covey system has its basis in Stephen Covey’s book “The Seven Habits of Effective People.” It focuses on the steps you need to accomplish your goals. You do need to focus a considerable amount of time on your mission and plans for achievement.

My Time Management System

I use a hybrid of the aforementioned methodologies in my DIY Planner. For the past couple of years, I’ve been purchasing Momentum Planners to print out from Charlie Gilkey.  Charlie is a retired Army Officer and I heard about him from another veteran friend of mine. I encourage you to follow him on LinkedIn and listen to his podcasts.

At the beginning of each month, I complete the Monthly Planner page. Then, each week I transfer items to the Weekly Planner. Finally, I run my day based on each Daily Planner page. You already know that I prefer paper, so this process shouldn’t be a surprise!

Summing It All Up

Time tracking is not time management. No matter how hard we try to bend the laws of physics, there are only 24 hours in each day. It seems that categorizing my time into big blocks works better for me. I try to allow for fire-fighting time: this could come as an unexpected call or an emergency support task that needs my attention. If you know me, you know that I don’t like to be boxed into a particular methodology, so I prefer a DIY system.

In my next article, I plan to discuss all of the time management apps I’ve tried. Please, take a moment to sign up for my newsletter (at the bottom of this page), and I promise you that you won’t be disappointed!

Going Back to Paper

Going Back to Paper

I have an iPhone and an iPad and have been using that combination for the past three years. During that time, I’ve tested many digital planner solutions. It’s not that they don’t work per se. Instead, I like the connection by brain makes by putting pen to paper. That’s why I am going back to paper for my personal and business planning.

Digital Journey Background

I bought my first DayTimer (mail order, mind you!) in 1988. I was hooked. The paper was lovely and stood up to heavy use. I stuck with DayTimer until 1999. At that time my current employer was espousing Franklin Covey and offered substantial discounts. Plus, they had a store in the mall! Both companies had their methodology for goal setting and planning. I quickly learned how valuable it was to document my goals and then go back and measure my progress.

In 2001, I got bit by the digital bug. I bought a Handspring Visor Pro with a whopping 16 Megabytes of memory! Look at me – I had a binder that held my PDA and my paper planner pages! Once upgraded to the Treo, which was my first SmartPhone, I quickly ditched the paper planner.

I migrated to a Windows Mobile device, then an Android device, and got my first iPhone in 2012. In that time span, I went through many programs to find the best solution to plan, track my goals, etc. Nothing worked for me the way I envisioned.

My Steps for Going Back to Paper

Fast forward to late 2016, I made the decision to go back to paper. I follow the blog of Charlie Gilkey “Productive Flourishing” and in January 2017 I purchased Charlie’s Momentum Planner. It’s a set of PDF files that you can fill out on your computer and print. I was hooked! To keep it all together, I use the Arc customizable notebooks from Staples. I splurged on buying the punch so I could easily insert my printed planner pages.

Wrapping It Up

What are your thoughts? Do you prefer paper or a digital solution for planning? Let me know in the comments and be sure to sign up for my email list and follow me on social media for other great tips and solutions!

Image credit: Marten Bjork

Break Out of the Mold

I spent 27 years in corporate America and was able to break out of the mold in 2010. It was a blessing in disguise as I was struggling to fit into a mold that wasn’t destined to be. I’m independent, strong-willed, strong-minded, and creative. And that combination doesn’t work in most companies – no matter what they espouse. Warning – this may be a volatile post for some readers.

Independent

I’ve always had a very independent streak. Are you one of those people whos mind moves so fast, it’s hard to keep up?  I am! It’s the constant flow of ideas that fuel my desire to be in business for myself, to share my knowledge with others, and to promote the community around me. I want to build my brand. As a corporate employee, it’s difficult to be an individual as the desire is for all to row in the same direction.

Strong-Willed and Strong-Minded

I’ve been called stubborn, obstinate, and unyielding. I prefer to characterize myself as resolute, willful, and unfaltering. My personal belief structure that underpins how I execute my ideas. I am loyal to a thought; once I “buy in” to a project or process, I’m in it for the long haul.

Creative

I love Albert Einstein quotes! You’ll find me using a few of them on this site and others. One of my favorites is this: “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” On this blog, you’ll find topics ranging from craft projects to cooking and everything in between.

How To Break Out Of The Mold

There isn’t a clear path for everyone to take as circumstances vary. I can recommend* a few books to read:

Conclusion

I broke out of the mold, and you can do it too! Strive to be an individual in everything that you do. Make sure that you follow me on social media to keep up to date! Remember, no regrets!

*I may receive compensation from the companies whose products I review and/or reference.