One of the key pillars of the Red Urchin Time Management System is continuity and a core process is pre-planning your day before it arrives. We want the ‘To Do Today’ page for any given day to be pre-populated with activities, but what is the best way to approach it?
Part of effective time management is that you put activities when you think you can do them (or when they need to be done by), which is not always the same day. It is a good habit to get into when you have a new activity to take the time to assess accurately which date to initially place it (See The 4D Decision). You can never remember all of your tasks, from meetings, goals, projects and everything else, so by accurately recording them and placing them on the corresponding day then they are there when that day comes around as a starting point.
Over time as your process incoming tasks based on the 4D’s you will end up with pre-populated ‘To Do Today’ pages. This gives us our starting point.
Plan tomorrow today
Once you have your pre-populated ‘To Do Today’ page, the next tasks of any day is to plan tomorrow. So at the end of Monday you would take 5 minutes to plan your Tuesday. We plan tomorrow using three very simple steps.
1. Add additional activities
Firstly, add any additional activities to tomorrow’s ‘To Do Today’ page. You might clean out your intray, inbox etc. Add any activities as required and don’t forget to include personal activities and commitments.
2. Prioritise your activities
Now that you have a full list of activities for the day (or at least what you know about so far) it is quick and effective to prioritise them and estimate their completion time. Go through your list and give them an A or B priority, where A has to be done that day and B is that it would be nice to complete it that day. You can also prioritise a 1, 2, 3 etc order for your A and B activities. This is the order in which you think they need to be completed. In addition, estimate the time to compete each activity in minutes, these will total at the bottom of the column.
3. Manage tomorrows time
Looking at your calendar/schedule for tomorrow, you should be able to see your free time between appointments/meetings etc. Add to your schedule blocks of time to complete your activities as required. Block out time specifically to do your A tasks and separately to do your B tasks. You can see the time required for A and B tasks so you can easily see if you have time available to be able to complete all of your required activities (and specifically your A activities). Remember to also schedule your personal time and activities into your schedule. (NOTE: You can also colour code or highlight your activities by selecting the * Action Menu for an activity and selecting Change Font).
If you can’t fit in the A activities, its time to start re-scheduling activities, allocating more time to activities, delegate some of your activities etc. At least you know before you even start the day!
Once you have completed your pre-planning, you have everything you need to start the day efficiently. You know what you need to do, what order to do it in and what you need to complete your tasks. There is no confusion or wasted time, you are ready to go before you have even started. Attack the day with confidence.
Now you can pre-plan your day effectively, you can look at ways to effectively move through your day. See Cycling through your day