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The Theory vs Reality of Time Management

One of the most difficult aspects of effective and thereby efficient time management is the ability to “capture immediately” tasks when they happen. There is a huge difference between how a time management system works in theory and working in the reality we all experience every day!

Take for example, you are walking through an office corridor or factory floor and pass Bob the Operations Manager. In passing he says, “Hey Tim, can you email me those new specifications by the end of the week?”. The key to an effective time management system is capturing that information accurately and applying the 4D’s (Do it, Dump it, Delegate it, Decide when) to it immediately so you can deliver on your responsibility. This “immediacy” is an important part of any time management system and is a key factor in its success. You can have 2 similar and capable time management systems but if only one has the ability to capture immediately, that system wins, hands down every time.

Human nature being what it is and the busyness of our everyday lives, “immediacy” is critical, otherwise we forget, something else gets our attention and when the dust settles we have forgotten and don’t deliver.

I find the same thing when sitting in meetings…the theory of time management vs the reality of time management. Your meeting is rolling along (obviously if you are the chair you have ensured that it is as streamlined and efficient as possible) and you take responsibility for a task (by your own volition or others delegation). You need to have the ability to capture it immediately before the topic moves on, more tasks get delegated to you or your focus shifts. This comes down to two points, firstly having a system that allows you to capture information and secondly accurately capturing the correct information, time-frames and references that will make to sense to you in the future when you will actually have to complete the task.

Using Red Urchin on a tablet is an efficient way to be able to capture this information immediately only if you have your tablet available and Red Urchin running to capture the task that Bob required while passing you in the hallway. This success comes down to habits, in that always having your tablet with you and actually using it as intended. I know myself that it took me a while to take my tablet with me everywhere in a work environment for just this reason and then even more discipline to actually get it out and record the task particularly in scenarios of a more informal nature (like passing Bob in the hallway).

Once you have achieved this feat, it is important to be able to accurately capture the task, apply the 4D’s and any additional information quickly and accurately so when you get to the task a day or a week later, it makes sense. It is of no use actually recording the task if it makes no sense to you in the future and you miss it or have to chase it up for clarification. To do this you need to make some key decisions fast. The 4D’s are paramount to getting this right, even if you change your mind later, make an educated guess immediately…Get the body of the task entered in Red Urchin dependent on your 4D decision but with enough information for it to make sense. In the midst of hundreds of tasks, just writing “Specifications” may not be enough, “Send Widget Specifications to Bob” might be a better entry. Then get any critical information added, particularly the Reference field to round out the information that you will need to complete the task.

Everyone works in different environments and in different ways but we know from our users that the “immediacy of capture” is critically important to your time management success. We can build you the worlds best time management system and you can install it on your tablet, but unless you take your tablet with you and capture what you need, life will overtake you and you will miss tasks and hence miss deadlines. What makes us awesome (among other things) is that we are incredibly efficient at what we do and exceptionally more efficient that the average person not using a time and priority management system. So double check your habits…take your tablet with you at all times, put tasks in as soon as possible and enter them with enough information so that you know exactly what they mean when you get to complete the task.

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