I have written about time management a few times over the course of this blog, and probably mentioned the importance of time management much more than a few times!
One of the blogs that I read relatively regularly is by Jim Estill who is CEO of Synnex Canada, and the primary focus of his blog is time management. This week he introduced the Autofocus Time Management System from Mark Forster ... and it's a very simple, easy to use and practical approach to managing your tasks.
What I like about this system is that you basically assign priority to your tasks as you go ... rather than having to assign and re-assign priorities which I have done in the past, OR have such generic priorities (Type A priority) that it doesn't make much difference. Of course, there will be plenty of people who will not like this system for that same reason!
One thing I can quite safely say is that every job I have had, (and I have had a few), has required a slightly different (or even radically different) approach to time management, which is one reason that I am always receptive to new ideas.
So here is the "short form" description of the Autofocus Time Management System ...
The system consists of one long list of everything that you have to do, written in a ruled notebook (25-35 lines to a page ideal). As you think of new items, add them to the end of the list.
You work through the list one page at a time in the following manner:
- Read quickly through all the items on the page without taking action on any of them.
- Go through the page more slowly looking at the items in order until one stands out for you.
- Work on that item for as long as you feel like doing so
- Cross the item off the list, and re-enter it at the end of the list if you haven't finished it
- Continue going round the same page in the same way. Don't move onto the next page until you complete a pass of the page without any item standing out
- Move onto the next page and repeat the process
- If you go to a page and no item stands out for you on your first pass through it, then all the outstanding items on that page are dismissed without re-entering them. (N.B. This does not apply to the final page, on which you are still writing items). Use a highlighter to mark dismissed items.
- Once you've finished with the final page, re-start at the first page that is still active.
Mark's website provides more details about using this system. This model fits well with my current system because today I use a ruled notebook to take notes and identify quick tasks to be done. Now I will create my "TO DO" list in the back of the book and capture notes in the front of the book. I still enter notes into our electronic systems when there is information to be captured there ... but I am confident I will make good use of this system.
Hope it works for you!