It’s All in the Timing

In today’s digital world it almost seems impossible to lose anything.  We have apps for Smartphones that help us track a lost phone or stolen car, satellite navigation systems that help us keep track of our journey and hi-tech running shoes that track our physical activity but how do we effectively keep track of the one thing we seem to always be losing…..time?

In 2011 Telstra reported that almost ‘one in two Australian mobile phone customers have a smartphone’. Yet in a recent survey conducted by Happening People only 11% of respondents used the scheduling tool standard on their smartphone or a similar app. It appears whilst Australians are known for being early adopters of technology and rely on it heavily to ease their lives they don’t seem to rely on it to manage their time.  In contrast a staggering 56% of respondents still use the traditional paper based diary or planner.

With this in mind Happening People have put together a Top 5 to managing your diary, planner or scheduling tool more effectively – no matter what type, shape or size it comes in.

1. Planning
Planning needs to be both long and short term.  Many of us seem better at short term planning (most scheduling tools are geared towards showing us a day or week in view).  For long term projects the issue is often we can’t see it all in front of us.  A wall mounted year planner or an electronic project management program can make this task easier to manage. One respondent commented ‘I use a Sasco wall planner for events 3 to 6 months out.”

2. Schedule BOTH your working life and private life
Whether you choose to use paper based or electronic tools or a mixture of the two it is vital that you use the tool for your entire day and week, not just part of it.  A survey respondent commented “It’s easy to keep my working week on track, work gave me a blackberry and our company uses Outlook – it’s my personal life that’s a mess, I keep double booking myself and missing appointments as I don’t schedule these.’

If you use Outlook at work for all your work related tasks make sure you find a way to schedule non work based activity such as appointments, personal meeting and the like.  A busy working mum of two commented she uses a paper based diary because she likes to see both work and home commitments on the one page.

3. Syncing
The key word to maximising the portability of electronic devices is the word ‘syncing’.  When it works it’s an amazing element of this techno-time, when it doesn’t it can turn a highly organised life into one of chaos and frustration.  There is a lot of very clever ‘Gizmo Gods’ out there working their magic to get our electronic diaries to talk to each other. If syncing has you in a spin it really is worth paying a technician to set it right.   One survey respondent put the benefits of syncing succinctly, ‘Thanks to the wonderful technology of syncing you can’t ever miss an appointment, there are just too many things beeping at you for this it to happen!”

4. It may seem obvious but….
Keep your diary available and preferably open at all times so that you can update it with important dates and tasks as they come in.  It might seem obvious but you are less likely to miss an appointment or double book yourself if you have it all written down in one place than trying to remember dates and times from different sources.

Also break down larger tasks into smaller tasks and schedule each component.

5. Use colour
The human eye can see 7 million colours, studies have shown that the right use of colours can increase productivity and the right colours can draw our attention – think red stop signs. So it stands to reason that these notions can easily be adapted to maximise your scheduling effectiveness.

And above all keep in mind…“Review our priorities, ask the question; what’s the best use of our time right now? “– Alan Lakein

If you’re keen to increase the time management skills or personal productivity of your people, check out the Happening People website or better still call us to discuss how together we can customise a program to suit your needs.

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