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What I did that resulted in my most productive day ever.
Last week I had my most productive day ever. It all started when I was going to a performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, by the great conductor Lorin Maazel in New York City. I had some extra time before the performance so I continued reading from a book I just bought, The Time Trap by Alec Mackenzie.
I'm not quite sure how I found out about this book but I'm grateful I did. Anyway, I read the reviews of the book on Amazon.com and they were amazing. Everyone said it was hands down the best book on Time Management, an all time classic.
In the past I've read several books on time management, listened to audiotape programs and bought different organizers so that I'd organize myself better. This book covers all of that but it also details how to actually **motivate** us to manage our time better.
This book originally came out in 1972 and is updated for the information age in 1997. The information it contains is what he teaches in his seminars and is very detailed. You get the equivalent of a weeklong seminar by simply reading and acting on the ideas in the book.
The other day I got this glossy sales letter and advertisement from Tony Robbins in the mail. It was for his, Time of Your Life Program. He was asking $200 for his program and it didn't even include the organizer that goes with his time management system. Then I looked at my $15, Time Trap book and realized I had the same or better value in this program. Everything Tony promised was in this book.
The Time Trap, is written by someone who had been teaching time management for the last 30 years. Tony Robbins is a great personal development teacher but I feel I'd rather learn time management from the leading expert in the field. From someone who has focused on that alone.
While reading the opening chapters, I was glad to find out that I was already doing the most important element time management -- I actually had a written plan for the workday. Alec says that having a written plan is one of the most important elements of time management. My productivity has gone way up since I started doing that on a regular basis.
In chapter four Alec shows you how to do a time log. I thought it was interesting and felt I'd move on with my reading before I did anything. However, for some reason the next morning I decided to do the Time Log.
The Time Log is simply a way to keep track of what you are doing. You don't have to work on your time management. You just write down everything you are doing. Surprisingly it didn't take that long to do the log.
If you answer the phone, you have to write it down. If someone interrupts you, you have to write it down. If you are daydreaming, you have to log it as well. There is no judgment here because I was the only person who was going to see this time log.
The other aspect of the log is you had to write down your major goals for the day and rank them in order of priority. Then you had to put a priority label on each activity that you logged from 1-4. With 1 being important and urgent, and 4 being something that was a complete waste of time.
Then I just wrote down the time, what I was doing, its priority, and when I was finished with that activity. I used a kind of shorthand technique with symbols to make the data entry quicker.
Something very interesting happened. For the first time in my life I felt, I was in a race to get things done. I wanted to get them done faster than the time I had allotted for myself. I worked quickly and efficiently. I wasn't letting interruptions get to me.
Never in my life did I have such a productive workday with so many varied tasks and projects. I got many things done. I felt great about myself.
I wish I had better news about the following days. They were not as efficient. I even tried the time log on two other occasions. However, I never completed it. When I was wasting time, I didn't want to write it down. But I'm sure I'll improve it the next time. That is the whole point of the time log anyway. To show you where you need to improve.
Just doing these time logs taught me several things that will help me save time in the future. One thing I learned from this book was to avoid interruptions. I thought I was good at that because I let my voicemail take all my calls and I only called back when I was ready to call.
I encountered another interruption, however - email. I get email constantly throughout the day and I'm very eager to look at it as it comes in. I never realized it, but email was constantly interrupting me and often it would lead me to do things that weren't my highest priorities.
So now I've set my email program so that if I want to check email I have to press a button manually. I used to have it check my inbox automatically every minute for me.
The bottom line is that by using the Time Log, I got at least two major benefits - it gets me to work faster whenever I use it, and I discovered my areas of weakness. Now, at least, I know the things that need improvement.
This article in no way does justice to the book, The Time Trap. There are so many useful tips there. Even if you only read a few chapters, you are bound to improve your time management skills.
Better time management means earning more money. If you are more productive, you are more valuable to your company, or to your own business or practice. I'm sure if I stick with the book, I'll improve my efficiency by at least 35%. Along with that, my self-esteem will rise as well as I begin to feel increasingly competent. I don't know about you but I feel better about myself the more disciplined I am towards achieving my goals. In addition, I'll be reaching many more of those goals if I use my time better.
I rate, The Time Trap, by Alec Mackenzie a 5 out of 5 stars. Even if you love what you do, you may find that you aren't using your time as wisely as you could. So go do yourself a favor and try to improve your time management by 1% each month. By the end of the year, you will have made great progress. http://www.superbeing.com/time.htm
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