There are five time management tools and techniques that you should practice for maximum productivity and good personal organization. Each of them takes a little time to learn and master, but pays you back in greater efficiency and effectiveness for the rest of your life.
1. Use a time planner. The first time management tool that you need is a time planning system that contains everything you need to plan and organize your life. The best time planners, whether loose-leaf binders or electronic versions, enable you to plan for the year, the month, the week, and for each day. A good time planner will contain a master list where you can capture every task, goal, or required action as it comes up. This master list then becomes the core of your time-planning system. From this master list, you allocate individual tasks to various months, weeks, and days.
2. Always work from a list. Every effective executive works from a daily list. It is the most powerful tool ever discovered for maximum productivity. When you create your daily list, you begin by writing down every single task that you intend to complete over the course of the day. The rule is that you will increase your efficiency by 25 percent the very first day that you start using a list. This means that you will get two extra hours of productive time in an eight hour day from the simple act of making a list before you start work, of everything you have to do that day. You can bring order out of chaos faster with a list than with any other time management tool.
3. Organize your list by priority. Once you have a list for your day's activities, the next step is for you to organize this list in order of priority. Once your list is organized, it becomes a map to guide you from morning to evening in the most effective and efficient way. This guide tells you what you have to do and what is more or less important. You will soon develop the habit of using your list as a blueprint for the day.
4. Use any time management system you like. The variety of personal digital assistants (PDA's) and computer-based time management systems available today is absolutely wonderful. No matter what you do, in whatever field, there are digital time management systems that you can tap into or load onto your personal computer or mobile device to help organize every part of your life.
5. Set up a "45-file system." There is a simple method of organizing your time and your schedule for up to two years in advance. It is called the "45-file system." This is a tickler file that lets you plan and organize your activities and callbacks for the next twenty-four months. This is how it works. First you get a box of forty-five files with fourteen hanging files to put them in. The forty-five files are divided as follows: There are thirty-one files numbered one through thirty-one for the days of the month. There are twelve files for the months of the year. January through December. The last two files are for the next two years. This is a wonderful system that you can also use with hanging files in your desk drawer.
Get a time planner of some kind, whichever format you are most comfortable using (eg digital or paper), and invest the time necessary to lean how to use it. The payoff in saved time and increased productivity will be enormous.
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