I have written many blog entries on the subject of time management, or personal productivity. If you want one place to read a bunch of time management tips then I would suggest this blog entry …Ten Blog Entries for Personal Productivity.
Because I write about this stuff there is sometimes an expectation that I am able to avoid the same traps as others … well I hate to admit it, but my experience is that this is a constant battle!
Yesterday was one of those points you reach every now and then … I have been running with so many projects for a long period of time, juggling priorities and often driven by deadlines and all of a sudden I felt that I had lost control! I was having trouble finding some of my materials, my filing was behind, my papers were mixed up, there was older activity data mixed in my my current work … it was time to press the reset button!
When you start the process of getting control back there are a number of things that happen …
I gathered all of my various files and papers into one big pile … and my first reaction was a thought that this was going to take forever!
Then I started to wade through the pile … I honed in on completed projects and data related to those projects.
Some of it was working files used through the process and those could go in the recycling (or shredding). This is a good process because it quickly reduced teh pile by a significant amount … which give a feeling of achievement.
Then some of it was the result of the projects .. a presentation, a set of messages for the industry association etc. and could be put into the appropriate files until needed next. This reduced the pile again, and brought some more order to my life … I was feeling more positive.
Next I had various “versions” of working papers for some projects, so I just sorted all of the different project work into their own piles … which meant that things were getting organized.
As I went though this process I found those dreaded bits of paper … the note that I did not transcribe to my notebook asking me to call someone at the United way; the reminder to schedule a dentist appointment; those little “to dos” that go away from me. Luckily there were not that many, there were no “biggies” and I quickly got them back under control.
Now i was on a roll … I sorted through my working papers, reducing them to the minimum amount necessary to do my work and created my “On the Go” file … which i carry with me, allowing me to move all of my various little project ahead whenever I have a spare moment.
Having gotten the paper mountain tamed there were a last couple of tasks before I could feel that I was ACTUALLY under control.
1. I revisited my Projects list … to ensure that I had included everything I needed. This sometimes reveals a deadline approaching and I need to dig out papers to ensure i have that project on my “current” list.
2. I will then try to plan my calendar out a few months … making sure that my electronic calendar is up to date, any commitments are well represented and I can quickly see what city i am supposed to be in, when!
Thats’ my “reset’ … and today i am feeling much more in control of my destiny. I am confident that my project are under control and I know what my priorities are .
It always amazes me how calming it is to bring order back to my chaos! When running a company it doesn’t take long to let the chaos take over again, if you are not prepared to keep some order … but even with best intentions a “reset” is needed every now and then.
I would recommend a “reset’ for every busy professional … it is a great way to ensure you are under control, which reduces stress and allows you to focus on the task that need to get done!