I was listening to this weekend’s Tech Chat about Time Management the other day, and thinking about how what those guys were talking about applied to what I’m doing. Things here in my small, small office are a bit different, for a number of reasons. Some of the systems that they were talking about makes sense, some of it really doesn’t. One of the big things they talked about, for example, was getting a handle on email. That really doesn’t apply here. Those guys, from what I could tell, work in much larger offices and have numerous projects going with various people reporting on the status of projects and tons of email being passed around among the various techs and people they support.
I don’t get anywhere near the amount of email those guys do. There are no IT projects that other people are reporting to me on. There is no group that needs updating. There is no documentation that other people are working on, it’s all me, there is no one else to email me this “stuff”. If I get an email from a coworker it’s a specific request, generally. (And most of those don’t come in through email, people just stop by my office. It’s that small a place.) Buying into a system that focuses so highly on email would be a waste of time. I generally have an empty inbox when I leave every day! It doesn’t take long to dispense the 10-15 emails I get during the typical work day!
On the other hand, one of the things that, I think, Chuck said rang a bell with me. He talked about the need to write down your “tasks” so that you can quit worrying about remembering to do them. Since I started using OneNote and creating a task list for each week, I do find that I’m much less worried about forgetting little tasks in the face of big emergencies. No matter what might go wrong during the course of a day, I know when it the emergency is over, I’ll go back to my office, look at my task list and do the next thing on it. I don’t have to remember what the next thing is. I never really liked using Outlook’s task functions, but I find that having the ability to create a custom list, and custom Note Flags helps me keep track of what’s been done, needs to be done, and what I’m currently working on better than any other tool I’ve ever tried to use. Plus, now that I have that stuff documented, I do worry about it less. I don’t spend part of my evening planning what tasks I’m going to complete tomorrow, I spend it with my wife, working on my own hobbies, or sleeping better, all the while knowing that when I get to work tomorrow, I’m going to open OneNote and work on whatever is there.
I also keep track of specific requests better. Now I can, whether the request comes in through email or verbally, simply add an item to my task list for either this week or next week, (or later if need be) and forget it, until it comes time to actually do that task. The other thing I can do, because I’ve made some of the more routine tasks coincide with meetings or other events, (End of month, for example..) is I can put a recurring appointment in Outlook and in the Notes put the detail of what needs to be done at that time, and transfer that to my task list when I’m looking at next week’s calendar. For example, I update our website membership list every two weeks. We also have a Staff Meeting every two weeks. In the notes for the Staff Meeting appointment, I make notes that this is also the week I need to update the website lists. The week before, when I’m looking in Outlook for what meetings I have to attend next week, as part of putting together my OneNote task list, I will see the need to do those updates and I’ll add them to the list. I don’t have to remember to add them to the list, I just have to look at what’s on my calendar for next week.
Believe me, as I get older, the more I can write down and the less I have to remember the better off we all are. 🙂
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