Get all your work done in one day - Time management secrets

06 Mar 2014 by Sarah Leembruggen.

Through a number of new ideas and innovative thinking, Mark Forster’s book “Do It Tomorrow and Other Secrets of Time Management” promises to enable anyone to get all their work done in one day.  Many of his suggestions go against deeply held beliefs in how to manage time effectively:  Don’t prioritise. Don’t make a To Do list.  Decide what you are not going to do. 

Here are our top 5 picks of the unlikely sounding theories put forth in the book.

1. Use a Closed List
The idea of using a closed list instead of the old-fashioned “To Do” list offers a good way of establishing a boundary on your work.   A closed list is a list of tasks that can be realistically achieved on that day with a line drawn at the bottom of it so that nothing can be added to it.  Initially, it will probably be a challenge to measure how much to put on the list but all you have to do is pop all your duties for the day onto the list. Prioritising is less of an issue because you aim to do everything on the list so the order in which the items go onto the list doesn’t matter.  After using the closed list system for a while, we all found that we had a better sense of what can be achieved in a day.

2. Get on Board with The Backlog Method
Most of us have an inbox of insurmountable proportions.  Any time we make a mammoth effort to clear it, the backlog comes back with a vengeance within a couple of days.  The first step to overcome this is to isolate the backlog.  Dump it in its own folder then sort it by “name of sender.”  This will make it easier to see which emails are from people you don’t want to ignore and which ones can be deleted, quickly and efficiently in batches.   Next, bunch the emails by “subject” so that you can do even more deleting in bulk.  This should reduce the number of emails quite considerably.  The final stage of the process is to sort by “date” so that you can tackle in batches of one day at a time, starting with today.  It’s taking us time to get through it all, but by following these steps, we’ve noticed progress and it’s nice knowing we’re no longer adding to the backlog.

3. Check Emails only Twice a Day
This sounded impossible at first but if you deal with only the urgent and important matters and leave the rest to deal with the next day, it isn’t as unattainable as it might sound.

4. Be Conscious of all Your Goals
We’re all good at focusing on daily goals or weekly targets but it’s also important to be aware of your yearly goal.  Once you’ve set a yearly goal, it’s easier to work backwards and set monthly, weekly and daily goals.

5. Set Continuous Projects
This consists of repeating a small number of tasks over a long period of time.  Sometimes the task has a specific goal (eg. mastering a language) and sometimes it’s just sticking to the repetitive action that’s the goal.  Some of us applied this principle to getting (and staying) fit by going out for a short run on a regular basis instead of going all out straight away and giving up after a week or two.
Do your exercise at the beginning of the day so that it’s done.  The feeling of satisfaction this leaves you with will stay with you for the rest of the day and help you cope better with obstacles and issues that may crop up at work.

Bottom line:  The book offers lots of simple ideas we have implemented in both our business and personal lives.  Whether we’ll all manage to get on top of our workload remains to be seen, but trying out some of these different approaches has been refreshing and enlightening.  We encourage you to do the same!

Do you have any tricks up your sleeve for effective time management?  Feel free to share them with us!

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