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Time Management

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How to plan properly

When documents start to piling up on your desk it is time to define priorities. For instance by using the ‘Eisenhower principle’.  Ask yourself:

 

  • What is important and urgent? (Priority A)
  • What is important but not so urgent? (Priority B)
  • What is urgent but not so important? (Priority C)
  • What is not urgent and not important? (Priority D)
Source: Wikipedia

Finding the right system

Work through your tasks according to this list of priorities. It is also worth creating a system of filing, either electronically or analogue. Organise compartments and folders and mark them with ‘this month’, ‘this week’ and ‘today’. Categorize each task according to the system mentioned above and file them accordingly. The physical order also puts order into our thoughts. It is crucial to first attend to the A tasks, if possible already in the morning when your energy level is at its highest point. This creates extra time for unforeseeable events and is very motivating. Things that are neither urgent nor important can usually be eliminated. They are usually things that have become a habit of yours or which are fun but not relevant.

Combining Tasks – Step by Step process

If you have similar tasks you should combine them. Three equally important telephone calls are best to be done one after the other.  Avoid the following process:  make a phone call, check e-mails, make the next phone call. Work with blocks. You cannot only combine tasks but also break up large tasks into smaller blocks: work step by step, document for document, appointment for appointment. In this case it is important to consider:  how much time can you spend on each block and how much time do you have for the whole task?

Preparing for the next day

Think already in the evening how you are going to start the following day. Have a look at your filing system: which tasks are important tomorrow? Tasks that have already been done should always be filed right away and new tasks should be put into the file for the next day. Go through your e-mails once again: have you answered all important e-mails? Are there still any unanswered inquiries or phone calls? Ideally you should answer all e-mails on the same day and should have marked all the more time-consuming tasks in your organizer to be worked on at a later point. After you have mentally gone through the next day you can shut down the computer and enjoy a well-deserved relaxing evening. As Seneca said: “It is not that we don’t have enough time, but there is too much time we don’t make use of.”