For better time management and to use your time efficiently it’s essential to write down every single thing you have to do.
Of course, if it’s only going to take you two or three minutes to do it, then don’t write it down – just do it right now.
But it’s a big mistake to try to keep your “to dos” in your head.
A Major Cause of Stress
It’s been found that a major cause of stress in executives is trying to remember too much. If you’re juggling tasks relying too much on your memory you’re constantly thinking you might forget something – at the back of your mind.
This is highly stressful.
To avoid this type of stress, write everything down. The trouble is you can end up with a lot of tasks written down. To deal with this, you need a system you are comfortable with to manage them.
Evernote’s Tagging is Brilliant
I use Evernote for this because of its excellent tagging capabilities.
For me, every task I have to do goes down as a new note in Evernote.
As I add it, I tag each note with an “urgency” tag. I have five tags for this – Now, Next, Soon, Later, and Sometime.
Currently I have 146 tasks written down in Evernote.
My partner thinks this is nuts! But it’s true – and having so many “to dos” written down really works for me.
How I Manage Tasks
The reason I can manage my tasks OK, is the ones I have tagged either Later or Sometime I only look at once a week – to see if I need to upgrade their “urgency tag”. In other words, to change it to Now, Next, or Soon. If not, they stay tagged as they are.
I make it a priority to check these tasks every week or I could easily overlook something. It only takes a moment to look at each one and check it. It needs to be a habit – like cleaning your teeth.
This checking, and changing the urgency tags for a few tasks, is the work of a few minutes and it means I never overlook anything.
(Well, almost never LOL.)
Day By Day…
During the normal day, I am mostly carrying out tasks tagged Now in Evernote.
Now and again I have a quick check of all tasks tagged Now or Next, and maybe Soon. I do this as often as I need to, to keep me on top of everything.
In these three categories there are generally around 25-30 tasks, so I can check them quickly. This is why this method works so well: it easily keeps me on top of my workload.
This method also enables me to deal comfortably with emergencies. If a crisis happens, all I need to do is check my tasks tagged Now – the work of a minute – before I can devote myself hundred percent to dealing with the crisis. Again, I know I haven’t overlooked anything.
Getting Things Done
I base my time management methods on the work of David Allen, who wrote Getting Things Done, or “GTD”. If you don’t know Getting Things Done, or if you’d like a quick reminder of its principles, then check out my post on HeyMalc – What Is GTD?
If I hadn’t found Getting Things Done 9 or 10 years ago, my time management would only be half as efficient as it is now.
Exactly how I manage my time I describe in this post – it’s by combining Getting Things Done with Evernote – a perfect combination.
If you perfect your time management you will get twice as much done with a lot less stress. It’s really worth putting some time into honing your time management skills.
Get it Out of Your Memory
And one essential feature of “GTD” is that you don’t rely on your memory, causing yourself stress – you write everything down. This is much better time management. And I suggest you write it down in Evernote, as I do.