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All of your time management requirements fall within one of two categories. You have appointments and scheduled events, time specific commitments you have made to be somewhere at a particular time. All other obligations are discretionary items, tasks you will accomplish at your discretion, around appointments and scheduled events. These will go on your "To Do " list. Here are some ideas on how to more easily and effectively manage those appointments and scheduled events.
An appointment or scheduled event is when you have committed your time to be somewhere at a particular time. These would include work related as well as personal commitments such as staff meetings, sales appointments, and a meeting with a vendor as well as a dentist appointment, a meeting with your daughter's teacher, and a dinner engagement with some friends at your favorite restaurant.
Many try to keep track of these commitments in their heads. For some, it works. For most, it doesn't. They forget. They make commitments and don't show.
Putting them into writing is better but many use multiple calendars such as a desk calendar, a common office wall calendar, a PC or handheld, a dentist appointment card stuck in the bathroom mirror, and the kids' soccer calendar on the refrigerator. This breeds confusion and missed obligations, especially if you don't refer to all the calendars all the time, and most people don't.
I like simplicity. Simplicity gives you power. I recommend using one calendar to manage your appointments and scheduled events. The best single calendar you can use is one that gives you an entire month at a glance on one page with a block for each day of the month and one that small enough, portable enough that it can be with you at all times. You can get these at most stationery and office supply stores.
For each of your time specific time commitments, record it in the appropriate box for that day of the month. List the time and a word or two to remind you what it is about.
For example, my calendar this week is as follows:
I like the "full month at a glance" approach because it gives me the benefit of context, anticipation and integration.
1. Context is the notion that when I schedule myself for anything, I want to do it in the context and in relationship with, what's going on around it. For example, a client calls and asks if we could meet on Friday at 3:00 p.m. at his office, an hour's travel distance away for me. I note that the time is available, but, looking ahead on my calendar, I see that I will be near his office a week later for a different appointment with another client. It makes more sense to kill two birds with one stone and I will suggest we combine his new request for my time with that other commitment saving myself two trips to the same location. Some are morning people. Some are evening people. i.e., we experience a higher energy level in the morning or evening. If I am a morning person, I may not want to schedule a high level appointment with my client in the afternoon when I have a lower level of energy. I will request that we meet during the morning hours when I am at a higher energy level.
2. Anticipation is the ability each night, in daily planning, when I can look to one source, see all my appointments and scheduled events coming up not just for tomorrow, but for the next day, the next week, and then next month, and ask, "What can I do in anticipation of this scheduled event coming up in my future?" Perhaps I have a doctor's appointment scheduled for later this month. I should make a list of questions to ask the doctor to make our time more productive. I have a staff meeting scheduled for next week. What if I create an agenda to keep that meeting on target and make it productive for everyone? I'll be going away on vacation at the end of the month. How about if I make a list of the items I should pack so my vacation is not spoiled running around picking up items I forgot to bring?
3. Integration is the simple but powerful technique of combining not only business and professional appointments and scheduled events but including your personal commitments as well, all on one calendar. Before I did this, I was frequently running late for family commitments and dinners because when I booked the business events, I would easily overlook the personal items and those business commitments often ran over into the time I should have been spending on personal commitments.
Don Wetmore, a college professor and an attorney, is president of The Productivity Institute, ( www.balancetime.com ) and has been in the field of Time Management / Personal Productivity for over twenty years. Reach Don Wetmore by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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