Effective Time Management for High Achievers, Part 3

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<strong>Day Plan</strong>

For this step you must have completed the energy
curve. If you do not have the energy curve, please
complete it before proceeding.

With the data reported in your energy curve, you will
be able to develop an optimized day plan that will
assist in guiding your activities in the most efficient
manner on a daily basis.

Because some tasks require a great deal of energy
to complete efficiently and with quality, those tasks
should only be performed during the time of day that
your energy is high. Trying to complete an energy
intensive task when your energy level is low will only
create frustration, repeated review of your work, and
procrastination. Conversely, many of the tasks that we
perform are routine or procedural, and do not require
a great deal of energy to complete with the expected
performance or quality. These tasks can be completed
during low energy periods because they do not
demand intensified thought and may provide a much
needed rest period in brain activity.

It is now possible to look at your energy curve and
assign certain times of the day to generalized task
categories. By assigning certain times of the day to
specific task categories, you will expend your energy
in a far more efficient fashion. You will also be able to
group certain tasks together which will create further
time efficiency. In addition, you can use your earlier
determined time management habits to your advantage
if they correspond with your energy curve. Once
you have your day scheduled in a generalized format in
accordance with your energy curve, you will have your
day plan. The planning process is as follows:

<strong>Supplies Needed</strong>

• Paper

• Pen or pencil

• Spreadsheet or scheduling software (optional) (Examples:
Microsoft® Excel®)
Summary assessment of time management habits

• Energy curve

<strong>Process</strong>

Set aside an uninterrupted 30-minute period for yourself
to diligently design your day plan.

1. Label each task of your summary assessment of
time management habits with one of the following
labels; high-energy, mid-energy, or low-energy.
Make the determination based on how difficult the
tasks are, how much attention you must give to
each task, and the expected quality performance
for each task.

2. Place your energy curve next to your summary time
management habits assessment. Judge if there are
any tasks that you have a natural tendency to complete
at a specific time that may correspond with
the energy curve. Make notes as you progress.

3. Begin to label each hour of the day with the most
appropriate tasks to handle based on your energy
curve and your time management habits. Don’t be
afraid to juggle various tasks around in order to find
the best combination for the average day.

4. After the best combination has been achieved, generate
an official day plan that you will be proud to
display on your bulletin board or on your desktop.

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5. Post the day plan in a place that you will see every
minute of every day. It is vital that this day plan
be in plain view to remind you of the necessity of
proper time management scheduling while your
new habits are being built and reinforced.

6. Begin using your day plan to organize general tasks
within the structure of the day plan for a minimum
of five days. This will be difficult at first, but it will
become easier with practice. This step is an excellent
step to use the action plan format with!

Do not continue to the next section without first successfully
scheduling general tasks in accordance with
your day plan for a minimum of five days.

<strong>Scheduling</strong>

For this step you must have successfully scheduled
general tasks in accordance with your day plan for a
minimum of five days.

With the implementation of the day plan most individuals
will begin to realize the amount of time that can
be saved by effectively managing tasks by grouping
them into categories and carrying out the tasks with
the appropriate energy as dictated by the day plan. A
typical participant in this process will already be realizing
gains of two to five hours per week with very little
effort. However, this is only the beginning!

The next stage in the self-improvement process will be
to schedule all tasks no matter the difficulty or duration
of the task. Sometimes this is confusing
because most people are not accustomed
to scheduling at a fine level of
detail. In practical application, the finer
the level of detail, the better scheduled
you will be. Although this will most
likely be very foreign at first, the benefits
will quickly become apparent as you
will find this method of scheduling will
generate amazing levels of efficiency
for you. The scheduling process is as
follows:

<strong>Supplies Needed</strong>

• Scheduling software program (Examples: Microsoft
® Outlook®, iCloud® Calendar, Google® Calendar
Etc.)

• Smart Phone or Tablet computer that will download
and upload to the software scheduling program
above (not required but highly recommended)

• Day plan

• Brightly colored sticky notes

• Felt pen

<strong>Process</strong>

1. Set aside an uninterrupted four-hour to six-hour
period for yourself to diligently schedule all of your
tasks in accordance with your day plan. Close the
door and let people know you are not to be interrupted.
An off-hour time with nobody else around
is an excellent approach to this exercise.

2. Accumulate all task folders, paperwork, notes, requests,
reports, messages, and any other reminders
that there is a task to be done. Put all of this information
in a large pile in the middle of your desk.
Make absolutely certain there is nothing left in an
in-box, on the voice mail, or in a ‘to do’ file. All tasks
must be in the pile of information before you can
proceed. Resist the temptation to get discouraged.
The pile may look ominous, however you are going
to totally eliminate it in the next step. Furthermore,
all of the tasks in the pile will be completely organized
and scheduled so nothing will go unattended
by accident and that should provide the confidence
necessary to carry through with this process.

3. Using the brightly colored sticky notes and felt pen,
make four category labels;

a) urgent AND important

b) urgent

c) important

d) neither urgent NOR important

Place the sticky notes on a desk or table with enough
space between each to put a new stack of paperwork.

4. Take the top item in the pile of tasks and make a
determination using the prioritization tool below.
After a determination is made for the item, place
it in the stack labeled with the appropriate sticky
note. Continue in the same fashion for all the items
in the pile of tasks. Resist the temptation to dig
through the stack looking for other paperwork:
take the top item and deal with it before you move
to the next item. It is very important that you handle
only one item at a time. Proceed steadily and
methodically through the pile until there is nothing
left in the pile and there are four stacks of information
with each stack labeled with a sticky note.

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5. Take all the information in the stack that is labeled
neither urgent nor important and do one of two
things with it: throw it away or delegate it away.
You have no business handling anything that is neither
urgent nor important. Get rid of it! If the tasks
in this pile become urgent or important in the future
they will come back to you, but for now, since
they are neither urgent nor important, they do not
deserve any more of your attention. Once you have
thrown them away or have delegated them away,
there are only three stacks of tasks left to schedule.

6. Because this time management process is new for
you, you will not yet be scheduling routine meetings,
updates, telephone calls, administrative work,
or other repetitive tasks. First, you will be scheduling
all of the items that need attention in order to
clear up the time needed for the more repetitive
tasks. Of course, you will still need to schedule time
to handle your core job functions and personal responsibilities.
If you must conduct a certain task at
a certain time during a specific day of the week, put
these tasks into your schedule at this time. Now
use your scheduling software program to enter
these tasks into your calendar and be sure to schedule
enough time to complete the task so it will not
have to be rescheduled later.

<em>Example:</em>

<em>Payroll entry, every Thursday at 3:00PM to 4:30PM</em>

7. Now that all the repetitive tasks that are required of
your core job duties have been scheduled, you will
begin to eliminate what remains in the three stacks
of tasks. The first stack to eliminate will be the stack
labeled ‘urgent AND important’ since these are
most likely going to affect your performance, your
organization’s performance, or your personal relationships
in a meaningful way. Take the first item
off the top of the ‘urgent AND important’ stack,
taking care to handle the item only once. Make a
determination as to how important the task is, and
how long the task will take to complete. Using your
day plan and your scheduling software program,
find a time slot that is large enough to complete
the task during the appropriate day plan category.
If the task will take longer than the time allowed in
your day plan, simply break the task up into multiple
pieces and schedule more time on another day
during the appropriate day plan category. After the
task is scheduled, label a sticky note with the first
date the task will be handled next (the date that
you placed the task into your scheduling software
program) and place it on the paperwork. Place the
paperwork in a new stack labeled ‘to be filed’ that
will be filed away in the next step. Remember to
handle each item only once. Do not set it aside for
later, or procrastinate about where to schedule the
item. If necessary, there will be an opportunity to
move the date and time of the scheduled task later
in the process.

Example:
I have a financial statement that will be used in a
comparative report I need to generate. It will take
20 minutes to complete the report and another 10
minutes to distribute it to the management team.
This task must be done before the next management
team meeting on the 10th, however it must
include the financial information on the statement
that I have as well as financial information through
the 9th of the month.

I will schedule the task into my scheduling software
program on the 9th between 3:00PM and
3:30PM because this is the time I have reserved
for administrative tasks. However, I know that the
more specific I am, the better my time management
system will perform, so I will schedule two
items into my scheduler. 3:00PM to 3:20PM will
be used to generate the report, and 3:20PM to
3:30PM will be used to distribute the report to the
management team.

I label a sticky note with “9th” and applied it to the
paperwork I have, then I put the paperwork in the
‘to be filed’ stack.

8. Move on to the next item in the ‘urgent AND important’
stack and schedule them similarly. Continue until all the
items are scheduled in your calendar
in accordance with your day plan. Resist the urge
to overlap items into your scheduling software program.
Initially, you may encounter too many things
to do all at once, however this situation will quickly
disappear as a result of efficient time management.
Remember that the tasks being scheduled are
deliberately being scheduled with a specified time
required for completion. Attempting to shorten
the required time period or overlap tasks will do
nothing but reduce the quality of your work. If
there is not enough time to finish the tasks, do not
blame the schedule as it is simply matter of having
too many tasks to perform and something has to
give.

9. After the ‘urgent AND important’ stack is eliminated,
move on to the ‘important’ tasks since these
are the next most likely to affect your performance,
your organization’s performance, or your personal
relationships. As before, simply go through the
stack one item at a time and schedule the tasks into
your calendar using your day plan as a guide, taking
care to handle each item only once. Remember to
label each task with a sticky note with the first date
the task will be handled next (the date that you
placed the task into your scheduling software program)
and place it on the paperwork before placing
it in the ‘to be filed’ stack.

10. Next, schedule the ‘urgent’ stack. Chances are that
your mindset will have changed a little by this time
and many of the ‘urgent’ items may be declassified
to ‘neither urgent NOR important’ status: if so, delegate
the task or throw it out. In any case, handle
the item only once just as you handled the previous
stacks.

You should now have nothing left in the ‘neither urgent
NOR important,’ ‘urgent,’ ‘important,’ and ‘urgent AND
important’ stacks. All of the tasks should be labeled
with the date of the next action to be taken, and all of
the items should be in one big stack at labeled ‘to be
filed’ this point. Do not continue to the next section
without first successfully scheduling all of the tasks into
your scheduling software program in accordance with
your day plan guide.

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