Here’s a helpful and short article on time management.  What makes it noteworthy is its focus on so-called time-saving technologies and the recommendation to create a “to-don’t list.”

Here’s the premise.

The gadgets and technologies we use to get stuff done come with their own built in distractions. You often have to deal with conflicts and breakdowns in the technologies themselves. Worse, you also have to deal with the unprecedented glut of advertising, promotion and other competition for your attention while you’re using them.

The solution offered is to create a well-ordered to-do list.  Yeah right.  If it was that easy everyone would be organized and nobody would have a time management problem.  What I like about this article is the addition of a “to-don’t list” and time-blocking the items on it.

The addition of to-don’ts got me thinking.  In the article the author uses to-don’ts as a way to limit the amount of time you spend on non-productive tasks (i.e., distractions).  Reflecting on this I realized that it is beneficial to have a default to-don’t list.  What are your biggest time wasters during the day?  I’m a news junkie so a to-don’t for me is not to log on to my iGoogle site.  I love iGoogle but it is full of time wasting distractions for me.

The other recommendation is to block time.  I know people who block off their entire day to prevent people from inviting them to meetings.  This is not what the author has in mind.  Time blocking enables you to set aside a specific length of time to complete a specific task.  Simply estimating the amount of time it takes to complete a task will have a positive impact on your ability to manage your time.

Limiting your effort on a task will cause you to focus and enable you to move on to other tasks when the time is up.  To be successful at this you must stay within the time block.  When the time is up.  Stop.  If you still have work to be done put the task back on your to-do list, set some to-don’ts and estimate the amount of time it will take to complete.  Then move to your next task.

One last piece of advice.  Before you finish your day, review your to-do list.  How well did you do?  Did you get all your tasks done in the time you allotted?  Did anything remain on your do-do list after the time block was up?  Are there any lessons you can learn about the time required to complete certain tasks?

I believe you will find this approach will give you more control of your day and help you learn how long it actually takes to complete certain tasks.  This requires is a commitment to identify and limit your non-productive activities, stay within time blocks you set, and to review your daily activities every day.

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