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Time management – my top 4 tips on choosing the right system for yourself.

January 14, 2010

Are you’re struggling with time, more specifically, the challenge with never having enough control over it and need to find a time management system?  In my conversations with clients about solutions to time management issues, it’s the selection of the system (because there are a lot of choices out there!) that is the first stumbling block.

What to Choose:

The two most effective time-management tools out there are;

1. Paper planner/calendar or

2. Electronic planner hand held/computer sync’ing device.

Desk agenda Desk agenda

It’s that simple. Seriously though what I mean in that statement is that you don’t have any post-it notes on the computer, magnets with reminders on the fridge, scribbles on napkins or multiple cute diaries and notebooks for each subject, room, briefcase or purse. One system, one tool. Effective time management starts with having it all in one place – your planner.

Paper or Hi-tech?

Think about your lifestyle: Honestly I think this is a very personal decision. You may not have a lifestyle that is full of meetings and appointments – your struggle with time is more about prioritizing than juggling. Or you may need both paper and technology. The trick is in defining what gets put on paper and what gets taken care of by technology. And remember when I say technology it’s not just whether you choose a blackberry, a palm or an iphone – it’s the applications you install on these devices that will really make the difference.

How many different aspects of your life are you trying to sync up? Are you juggling a busy career, family, hobby or higher education? If you have complex scheduling, particularly if it’s from different aspects of your life and locations then perhaps technology is the answer for you. On the other hand if you scheduling is not the problem but keeping track of what you’re doing and prioritizing then you may simply need an agenda.

Think before you choose: You need to think about how this piece of technology will work for you and how and where you will be using it.

1. How many people are involved in your scheduling network? Do you need a system that can be shared with others and different platforms? What is your major area of frustration when it comes to keeping your day on track? You need to look at your life before you look at how to schedule it.

2. Making time to keep on time. No system, whether it is paper or technology will work for you unless you routinely communicate with it, sync it with your computer and keep updating it. So, before you choose, think about the amount of time that you need to commit to maintaining it. If you are spending a lot of time co-ordinating your time and contacts then you might need to think about some kind of assistance – be it someone who works with you, or a virtual assistant.

3. Give it time to work! Give yourself time to really get to know all the bells and whistles that it comes with and invest that knowledge into how you use it and hang in there – it will take time.

4. Applications. The actual piece of technology you choose is only one aspect of getting on top of time-management. You need to also think about the applications (apps in tech lingo). You can do way more now than just send email, texts, keep contacts and have a calendar. There are a lot of apps out there and some of them are really cool.

I am visual, I scribble, take notes but until recently my scheduling was pretty simple so I had a desk diary/Notebook. I loved it. My lifestyle has changed now. I do a lot of traveling and juggling of my and my clients time. So, I now still have my paper desk diary which I look at every morning to get a “look” at the day and week (so that I can see the big picture). I also have a hand held piece of technology where all the addresses of appointments, contact information and times are logged. It also has a GPS so that I can have the map directions of where I am going. They are my needs and my priorities.

Apple iphone Apple iphone

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