Does your time management system have leaks?

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This post is part 1 of 3 in a series.

A poor or incomplete time management system can wreck havoc on your personal organization and efficiency.  In fact, a poor time management system can actually make you less productive.  Let’s explore 3 impacts of a poorly implemented solution.

They are: Leak, Creep, and Bloat.

Each of these is different but they are often interrelated.  An ill-defined or implemented system usually contains all three in some manner.

Why are we concerned with this?  Bad time management slows us down and increases Life Friction, ultimately making things worse.  We want to utilize the simplest forms of time management that bring effortless efficiency.

Today’s post discusses Leak.  Parts 2 & 3 will cover Creep and Bloat later this week.

What is Leak?

Leak, as its name implies, is the leaking of information from one’s time management system.  Leak results from an incomplete system.  One that lacks all of the tools needed to get the job done.  The loss of information is due to “holes” in the system.  It could be a lack of ability to capture notes or not having a place to record contact information.

Symptoms

You time management solution may have leaks if…

  • You have a desk drawer full of business cards – Why isn’t this information in your contact book?
  • Scraps of paper and Post-it notes cover your desk (and computer) with important info
  • You lose phone #’s and other info that you need again – Ever find yourself looking up the same info repeatedly?  Or wasting time looking for info you already had?
  • You forget tasks and appointments that never reach your calendar or todo list

The scrap of paper syndrome

Ever write something down on a napkin?  A scrap of paper?  How about a Post-it note?  (People love Post-it notes.)

What happens when you write notes on random pieces of paper?  You probably never see them again.  That critical # or contact info will not be readily available when you need it.

A boss of mine used to keep small (4×6) scraps of paper in a stack on her desk, so that she would have something to write on while on the phone.  She thought she was being green (or something) by recycling scraps of printer paper.  The problem was that the scraps were easily lost or even brushed off her desk.  There were often a few floating around her office.

That important phone number you wrote on a Post-it note…where did it end up?  On the floor?  Stuck to the back of a file folder?  The bottom line is that you will not have it when you need it.

Avoiding Leaks

There are several ways to avoid leaking of information from your system:

  • Use your system with discipline – Be ruthless in using your system.  Your system can only work if you use it.  Ever get one of those appointment cards at the doctor’s office for your next visit?  Where does it go?  In your wallet or purse never to be seen again?  Take the few extra seconds to record the appointment in your calendar immediately.  Right then and there.  (I find it amusing that the receptionists are usually offended that you will not “take” their appointment cards.  How dare you be so efficient!)
  • Ensure your tool box has all the required tools – Ensure your time management system contains all the tools you need to be effective.  Do you have a place for notes?  Do you have a contact/address book?  Many people’s system is lacking at least one tool.  (For a starting point, see “The Power of 1.“)
  • Avoid the things that leak – Avoid the temptation to write things down on scraps or Post-its.  Post-its are useful for certain tasks, but not for todos, phone #’s, and notes.

Does your time management solution have any leaks?  What can you do to remedy them?

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Stormbringer

    Excellent points.”You lose phone #’s and other info that you need again”. Oh, yes! Worse, finding the number where it “belongs” after I looked it up again. The problem? My system was inconsistent and undisciplined. I thought I was being clever, then forgot what I had designed. I’m a firm believer in writing things down. Until I got organized enough to carry a Field Notes notebook, I would write things down whenever possible. BUT I would consolidate them, too. Even so, the Field Notes approach is a temporary measure until I can get things into my online calendar and To Do list. Maybe it sounds overly complicated, but I can’t spend much time at work, gotta grab the thought and get back to pretending I’m productive.

  • Stormbringer

    Excellent points.”You lose phone #’s and other info that you need again”. Oh, yes! Worse, finding the number where it “belongs” after I looked it up again. The problem? My system was inconsistent and undisciplined. I thought I was being clever, then forgot what I had designed. I’m a firm believer in writing things down. Until I got organized enough to carry a Field Notes notebook, I would write things down whenever possible. BUT I would consolidate them, too. Even so, the Field Notes approach is a temporary measure until I can get things into my online calendar and To Do list. Maybe it sounds overly complicated, but I can’t spend much time at work, gotta grab the thought and get back to pretending I’m productive.