Time management (off topic)

I’ve been on an organisational journey since reading the book Getting Things Done.

I thought I’d give an update of the things I’ve changed that has yielded the biggest benefit to my personal time management.


Previously email had been causing real disruption to my day.  The effect of working in different areas of the business meant I had 3 in-boxes.   I tried filtering the messages into different folders depending on the topic.  I also tried the single folder approach but this didn’t work too well either.   My inbox resembled the twitter stream at times.   Something had to change.

I settled on the Inbox Zero system described by Merlin Mann.

When email arrives, if I’m around I manually filter it into 3 folders.

Emails in this folder are the ones that are high priority and easy to do now without too much disruption to the day.  This folder forms a to-do list for the day.

These emails are the ones that require action and need to be be planned to avoid causing disruption to whatever is being done now.

These emails are the ones that need action from others before completion.

Any other emails are deleted.

The benefit of this system is that when my boss says “What are you doing and what have you got planned next week?”  I can take a quick look at the folders before promising my time away.

Another benefit is that it’s so simple that it works for most situations.  Once you’ve mastered your own organisational performance push it out to the team and boss and before you know it, you’ll be fostering a high performing team.

Desk Drawers

My desk drawers we’re a mess.  Full of old process notes and reports that had become junk with the passage of time.   I was far too busy to organise my drawers so the solution was to get rid of them.  Instead, I opened up Microsoft OneNote that is bundled with Office.  This is a great pieice of software that enables me to categorise information and data from any source.   It even OCR’s text so that it can searched upon.

Since making these changes  I’m able to get the lists of things out of my mind.    This enables me to focus on getting things done and keeping some spare capacity in my brain for  thinking.

About Lee Hawthorn

Data Professional
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