Throw Away Your To Do List and Take Advantage of More Effective
Time Management Tools
In today's choice-challenged environment, the absence
of effective time management tools can leave you feeling overwhelmed
in your everyday life. Your most vital to do's, the ones that
will create the most value and balance in your life, are often
put off in a perpetual "as soon as” trap. Here
are four easy-to-use time management tools that will end procrastination,
put you in control, and make the most important things in
your life happen NOW. (Average reading time 120 seconds)
- Pick the right time management tools from the
start by using planners or calendars of a size that you
can keep with you at all times. If you regularly
use a planner, you know how valuable this is for effective
time management. If you have never used a planner, or started
but didn't stay with it, please listen up. I don't sell
planners or own stock in any planner companies. This is
objective advice gathered from measured statistics with
tens of thousands of clients. Of all time management tools,
this one alone will end procrastination, reduce stress,
and add value and balance to your life.
Two of the most effective time management tools are a paper
planner/calendar with one to two pages for each
day or an electronic planner. One or two pages
per day give you the room to write not only your scheduled
items for the day but notes for each meeting, directions,
and other comments relevant to your day. Write everything
in one place, your planner. Do not write an appointment
in your calendar, the phone number on a napkin, and the
directions on a notepad. That's Stress City, and it’s
not taking advantage of your time management tools. When
you are rushing out to that appointment, you won-t be able
to put your hands on all the things you need. Effective
time management means having them all in one place - your
- Throw away your to do list. Delete it
from your computer. To do lists are out of date time management
tools. They are not useful for effective time management
because they create inefficiencies and add to your frustration
and stress in life. However, before you throw your to do
list away, you need to do one very important thing.
Take a couple of seconds on each item and ask yourself the
magic question that ends procrastination and begins effective
time management, "When am I going to do this?"
…."I have to do meeting planning in the morning,
this phone call to a client I'll do on Thursday, taking
some additional college classes I don't intend to do until
fall - I'll put that down in early August to check out."
Then, for the most effective time management, transfer each
item from your to do list to a day in your planner/calendar
when you intend to do it or start it.
And don't transfer your entire To Do List until tomorrow.
Breaking it down by days takes what is often an overwhelming
list and sorts it by time into manageable segments. When
you get to the day for doing it, act on it – or again,
at least start it. When new events of the day try and crowd
out what you had planned to do, ask yourself, "Is this
new item more important to do today than what I had planned?"
If so, do it. If not, stick to what you had planned and
write down the new item on a future day in one of your time
management tools, your planner or PDA.
And don't be stressed out by having to transfer planned
items to another day because higher priorities come along.
The act of transferring is motivational and serves an effective
time management purpose. After you've transferred something
three or four times, you will say to yourself, "Am
I ever going to do this?" Sometimes you'll answer NO,
this isn't that important, and you'll delete it. More often
you'll say, I'm tired of transferring this, and you'll find
the time to get it started that day. That motivation created
by transferring becomes one of your more effective time
- Every time you decide to do something in the future,
take 3 additional seconds and answer the magic question,
"When am I going to do it?" If you’re
driving home from work and you think, "I really want
to call my Mom,” or "I need to get that report
to my boss soon," or "I want to take my spouse
out on a special date," don't write it on a to do list.
Take a couple more seconds and ask yourself, "When
am I going to do that?" Then immediately write it down
on the specific day in your planner that you intend to do
it. The best thinking and best intentions will not help
with overall effective time management unless you make a
commitment in time when you are going to do something about
- Open up your planner every day, one of the most
important of all time management tools. At least
80 percent of the value of all planner systems for effective
time management comes from only two things. When you decide
to do something, immediately writing it down on the day
you intend to do it AND opening up your planner everyday.
If you will do these two things, you are getting at least
80 percent of the value of these time management tools,
and for some more than 100 percent of the value. Why more
than 100 percent? Because some planner companies try and
sell you so many pages or functions full of bells and whistles
that your planner becomes overcomplicated and burdensome,
and you quit using it as one of your time management tools.
Immediately writing down your activities on a daily page
and opening your planner up every morning will greatly reduce
procrastination and increase the achievement and enjoyment
levels in your life.
Simple yet effective time management tools that produce powerful
results. Why not try them out?
About the Author
Jim Bird is the founder and CEO of WorkLifeBalance.com,
a worldwide leader in effective time management and related
work-life balance, leadership, stress management training,
and train'the'trainer certification. Since 1991, he has worked
with some of the world's largest organizations to achieve
their most critical business objectives. An honors graduate
of Georgia Tech with a degree in business, Jim has frequently
appeared in traditional and online media, including the Wall
Street Journal, USA Today, Knight Ridder Newspapers,
Monster News, and CNN International. He currently resides
in Atlanta, Georgia.