Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Time Management

Has anyone heard when we might be getting that extra day each week? You know, the one we all desperately need to get everything done? I know I can't wait. Between taking the Travels with Bob site to a new level, working on my first book, and now being a featured writer for Boomer Living, I could definitely use a few more hours in my day and a few more days in my week.

Since I don't think increasing the number of hours available to me for work is an option, I have had to perfect my time management skills. I've discovered several good tips and resources that help me meet all my commitments, still have time for family, and not feel exhausted when the day is over. (The fact that the dust bunnies under my couch are about to attack my dog is irrelevant. They are UNDER the couch and out of sight means I'll deal with it tomorrow!).

The first thing I learned was a very simple rule: Focus on results, not on activity. Don't be wasting your time doing things that are not going to help you meet your goals. Busy work is NOT a good thing!

How do you know if you are managing your time most effectively? I discovered a great test that will tell you! Answer the questions honestly and it will tell you whether you are a great time manager or if, like me, you are good at some things and have lots of room for improvement in other areas. The test is by Mind Tools, a site that teaches essential skills for success - including time management.

Based on my test results, I found I needed to improve in a few areas. So I set out to find the tools that would help me do so.

One of my worst areas is scheduling. I am very bad about remembering appointments and deadlines. I have a planner, but it's a nuisance to have to dig it out every time I need to use it. I have a wall calendar but that's not very effective either. Since I'm on the computer most of my day, I needed something readily accessible - other than the sea of post-its stuck all over the outside of my monitor. Well I found the perfect calendar - Google Calendar. I use many of Google's tools already so naturally I checked theirs out first and it's wonderful! The Quick Add feature lets you Click anywhere on your calendar where an event belongs (or use the Quick Add link), and start typing. You can receive reminders of your appointments - even on your cell phone. And the price is right - FREE!

In keeping with paring down the mounds of paper on my desk, it was also suggested I go to an online to-do list instead of my handy sheet of notebook paper with my list numbered 1-10, in no particular order of importance. Now I have to admit, I was reluctant to embrace this at first. My notebook paper to-do list works just fine! But my uber-organized friend Alice kept pushing until I finally gave in. She recommended I try Remember the Milk and I must admit - I'm impressed! It lets me set due dates like next Friday or in 3 weeks. I can receive reminders or add tasks just about anywhere. And once again, the price is right - FREE!

I also found a program that will keep from going into Post-It withdrawal. Visual person that I am, I do need something to keep me happy! And I found it. Stickies is like post-it notes for your desktop. Computerized post-it notes - what will they think of next?!

Alice, are you happy now? Look at me - I'm a model of efficiency! Now maybe I can schedule in some time to paint the kitchen, clean out the garage, start my new blog....


Eileen Williams said...

WOW!! Do I LOVE this site!
Melodieann, you always provide practical and helpful information that I can use in my daily life. I took the time management test and signed up for mind tools. Can't wait for your next installment!

Melodieann said...

Thank you Eileen! I love sharing what I have learned - usually the hard way!

Beverly Mahone said...

I had to learn the hard way that "busy work is not a good thing." I totally agree with that. Sometimes I spent way too much time on busy work and end up getting nothing accomplished while piling on more work.

I have vowed to work smarter--not necessarily harder--in 2009 and not take on new clients just for the sake of making money. The old saying: "Quality not Quantity" still rings true.

Betty Lynch said...

Thank you for letting me know about the stickies. I'm going to check that out.

Karen O'Bannon said...

Yep. I've been guilty of that...A lot. But this year I'm changing. I really want to be more productive, not just busy. Believe me I'm working on that.

dannielo said...

If you'd like a tool for managing your time and projects, you can use this application inspired by David Allen's GTD:

You can use it to manage and prioritize your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, schedules and a calendar.
A mobile version is available too.

Levi said...

I love the Stickies application, great to see you may have helped out one of your readers by sharing it!