Many of my clients have found that although organizing their space definitely helps cut down on time once spent searching for things like keys and important papers, they still want a systematic way to manage their time. I’ve researched and experimented with many different time management systems and I’ve finally found one that consistently works.
It’s a deceptively simple and very effective system called Do It Tomorrow. Many people struggle to master complicated time management systems that often to seem to create more work than they save. Do It Tomorrow simplifies things and helps you focus on what’s really important. It helps you make space for what matters in your schedule. I offer it to all my clients and I’d love to teach it to you.
I spoke with the author, Mark Forster, and asked him to address the top five questions my clients have about time management.
JS LLC: What is the single most important thing someone could do to better manage their time?
MF: Without a doubt the most important thing is to learn how to say no. This is often very difficult as we all like to be liked, and perhaps the most difficult person to say no to is our own self. Yet it’s essential, otherwise we will always be rushing around getting further and further behind. Remember: “It’s better to do a few things well than a lot of things badly”.
JS LLC: How do you handle interruptions?
MF: There’s a tendency to think of interruptions as being always a bad thing. But in fact this is not the case because often interruptions are our work. If we don’t have any interruptions then it’s because we don’t have any clients or customers! The most important thing about interruptions is to have a good system for handling them. So look carefully at how you deal with customer queries, calls from potential clients, students who need some help, and so on – as appropriate for your line of work. Are you always being caught off guard or does everything flow smoothly? If you work at home, have you discussed with your family members how they can best help you in your work? If your boss is always dumping work on you at the last moment, have you discussed it with her?
JS LLC: I have clients who work late into the night yet never seem to get on top of their ever-expanding “to do” list. Can you offer them some hope that things can change if they follow your system?
MF: You can tell your clients that their work would be far more effective if they were to stop working late into the night, and instead had a definite stopping time after which they could do anything they liked as long as it was not work related. Similarly they should always take a non-work lunch break with a definite start and stop time. The effect of this is to improve the quality of their work during the times they are working. Definite breaks have this effect. After all when do people get most work done? Friday afternoon before going off for the weekend, and in the week leading up to going on holiday!
JS LLC: Many people have been taught that the secret to time management is to prioritize your work. What’s your take on this strategy?
MF: I think the whole idea of prioritizing tends to be badly abused. People are taught to give priority to the important things, i.e. do one thing and not do another. That sounds good, but is actually a very poor piece of advice. If you are manufacturing a car, which is the more important – the engine or the leather seats? Well, the answer is that if your customer has ordered a car with leather seats and a specific size and type of engine, then you need to provide a car with leather seats and that size and type of engine. The car needs to have the correct specification – all of it. In the same way if we make a commitment to do something, then we need to do it – all of it.
So the time when we need to be clear of our priorities is not at the task level, but when we decide what commitments to take on. This comes back to my first answer about saying no. We need to make sure that we do not take on more commitments than we are capable of doing in the time available. To go back to the car manufacturing analogy, there is no point in taking on orders for 10,000 cars a year if your manufacturing capability is only 5,000 cars a year – unless of course you take steps to put extra capability into effect.
JS LLC: I stay organized so I have time to sing in choirs. What do you do with all the time you save?
MF: Having things in your life which are more important to you than work is a very good way of ensuring that you don’t allow work to take over your life. This must be non-negotiable as far as you are concerned. I’m retired, so my aim is to do nothing which I don’t enjoy!
Contact Lucy Kelly at (720) 526-2114 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about how to Do It Tomorrow.
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Joyful Surroundings LLC
Everything feels better with an organized home!