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Posts from the ‘Time Management’ Category

Five Tips to Tame your To Do Lists

I bet you have made a to do list or two in your time. They can be a very helpful planning tool. They can also be a mamouth, unwieldly, pressurising reminder of how far behind you are.

Here are Five tips to help you Tame your To Do Lists and make them work for you.

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How to do and have it all… Just not at the same time.

It' s that New Year Feeling again when the slate feels clean and I get the urge to write on it everything in the world that I might possibly want to do next year. The good thing about that is that no one will ever accuse me of not living life to the full. The bad thing is that I get frazzled from trying to cram everything in and tired from staying up 'just another half hour'. And worse, as the year goes on I get down on myself for not achieving very much because I naturally have a forward looking gaze and so focus on what I still would like to do rather than what I have already achieved.

This is a problem because it is not just in one area of life in which I have a wish list longer than Heathrow's runway. There are multiple areas in which I want to learn and excel and cram in expereinces. I have so many books/ magazine/ websites I want to read, so many tasks to do, so many places to go. It's a problem.

But, there are few time management problems that cannot be alleviated by the clever use of a Filofax. So I have made three small tweaks to my planner system this year.

Focus Topics

First, I have introduced the concept of Focus Topics.

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Planning to do nothing.

Time Management books tend to focus on tasks. On culling emails, on filing systems, on taming interruptions to meetings. They are about scheduling jobs, planning steps to be taken, organising paperwork. They make me tired just writing about them. The assumption is that good time management is about how we do what we do and how to do it fast.

Sometimes good time management is about planning to do nothing much at all.

Let me give you an example. Yesterday I knew I had to do a lot of work on this blog. If I was to keep up my intended posting schedule and everything else I had to do in life I needed to sit down and write a dozen or so posts. I had a system of notes and Filofax inserts and Evernote notebooks. I knew what to do. But I was feeling pushed along and I didn’t know what to write about.

Many writing books say to put your butt in a chair and a screen and keyboard in front of you and get to work. A good second step. But my first step was a little different.

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Six reasons to time record.

We lawyers are trained to record every minute spent on a file for billing purposes. Firms have meetings and charts about how many billable hours have been accrued, software companies produce competing time watching programmes and there is a whole industry of costs draftsmen who spend their lives translating time sheets into multi-sectioned costs schedules with appendices. I have never been to their offices but I imagine them as dark miserable caves devoid of the sound of joy. I can imagine that with some accuracy because I once worked for a firm where I was not allowed to boil a kettle during work hours because using a drinks vending machine took less billable time. I was not there very long at all.


I am not surprised then, that when I explain to fellow art quilters that I record my time, I get rolled eyes and sympathetic ‘poor dear’ looks.

I know they are thinking, ‘Come on. Art is about freedom, about spontaneity, about losing your self in the muse. Drop the office mentality’.

True, creativity is about going into the ‘zone’.

But for many its also about selling their work, about getting art to shows on time and not failing to get your book manuscript in as per contract.

And that where I recommend time recording. Read more

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