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Comments from Time Management Advice?

October 14, 2008

So far, a summary of some of the rather good comments from my earlier post:

Kelsi notes that the Association of Women in Science is running some teleseminars that are very relevant here (“Strategies to Deal with Your Career and Work-Life Balance Challenges”) – they started today and run through Nov 19th. (See the TeleSeminar Schedule)

NJS had some good advice – about having a support group of sorts to report progress to… never hurts to have a sounding board for your questions and a friendly “shouldn’t you have that done already?” reminder if you are falling behind.

She also shares some advice for organization, including using Google Calendar (currently a free web app) to keep track of events. I use iCal (included as part of the Mac OS) to send email reminders or pop-up messages for this – and many may have access to a similar calendar through an MS Exchange email server at work or school.

For “to-do” lists, NJS suggests a text editor – there are also many free/not-free applications that act as checklists. (I use TaskPaper, a small Mac app that behaves like a text editor but lets you assign tasks to projects, add tags, and cross off finished items – I like that last feature best.)

For organization, a “get things done” approach may work for you: basically, touch each piece of paper (or email, or document) only once… read it, and deal with it. If it needs an action, do that action immediately (reply to the email, fill out the form, etc.). If the action must wait, file the item immediately in a “to do” folder (get it off your desk or out of your inbox). When the item is complete, it goes into an appropriate folder for storage (or the recycle bin, etc.)

Document organization in folders works really well if you keep on top of it: for those odd computer documents that fit two categories, I like using ‘tags’ so I can keep track of both categories while filing only one copy (so, say, a paper on the lava flows on Olympus Mons might end up in a Mars folder but have a Volcanology tag). Again – lots of computer apps. will do this for you (for me, pdf references are organized via Yep, but there are dozens of this kind of app out there.)

Kell writes:

Lets face it, we are all really busy, and if you are not careful you can end up being controlled by the tyranny of the urgent, constantly putting out fires. Prioritizing and planning your work, and then working your plan, is a great step towards getting the most important things done.

(Hear hear! Now if only I could follow my own deadlines for those projects that lack their own…)

Susan K advises:

Focus on what matters – you’ll never regret that the carpet wasn’t clean, you will regret not playing ball with the kids.
And remember – better is the enemy of good enough. Know when enough is enough. Some things will never be perfect, so don’t keep trying to get it there.

Great comments so far (including those I didn’t reprint 🙂 ) – please keep sharing!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 23, 2009 6:25 am

    Indeed world hunger has to be solved. ,

  2. October 22, 2009 7:16 am

    What’s the story behind your username? ,

  3. October 15, 2008 5:19 pm

    Another tip is not to confuse efficiency with effectiveness. I often see clients who have reached the top of their career only to have that empty feeling that they have missed their kids growing up and quality time with their partner and friends.

    I am always reminded of the metaphor of a ladder leaning up against a building. Efficiency is about climbing the ladder as quickly as you can. However, there are people who climb the ladder of life, only to get to the top and realize the ladder is leaning up against the wrong building.

    For this reason, goal setting and time management go hand in hand.


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