According to Wikipedia, time management is defined as “the act or process of planning and exercising conscious control over the amount of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency or productivity”. Now, that’s all very neatly summed up, but what does it mean in actual terms?
There’s an old saying that if you want something done, you ask a busy person. Or, put in a simple formula which must have mathematicians and quantum physicists tying their stomachs in knots:
the more you have to do
the less time in which you have to do it
the more you get done
This goes against the laws of nature, and it is counter-intuitive as well. It is also completely true. (At this point the adversary (read: Other Half) wanders in and says that this is only half the picture: the more that gets left undone too. There speaks the Great Procrastinator!)
On a shelf above my desk and my laptop I have a row of old diaries. Not the kind in which you may pour your heart out over the cruel world and how resentful you are that you didn’t get a Malibu Barbie on your 9th birthday. No, these are desk diaries. Simple ones with a week displayed over 2 pages, either from Ryman’s, WH Smith, or similar shops. There’s even a fancy one covered in purple suede which I was given as a present one Christmas.
Each week I write down what I need to do. This includes anything from specific deadlines, appointments, or tasks which need to be met/kept/done on a specific day, to something which I’ll have to do at some point during that week. I write in black or blue ink, then tick each item off with a red pen as I go along. Very urgent/important tasks are also marked with an “NB!” in the margin, then highlighted with a yellow marker pen. My favourite days are the ones with lots of red all over them! (Don’t worry, I am only trying to kid myself so I don’t pull all my hair out). And I keep the weekends as free as I can, to leave room for family life, social life, and things that need doing around the house, like (groan) washing, etc (yup – more lists).
Occasionally I need to “carry over” a task to the following week. I do this by drawing an arrow pointing to the right, indicating that the task has been transferred to the next page turned over, and then I write it down on a suitable (read: realistic) day that week. I try to limit what I carry over, but it’s not always possible. Certifiable? Probably! But it works for me.
How do you manage your time?