One of the things that I’ve observed in my coaching recently is an increasing number of conversations about time management. I remember the old days—about 35 years ago, in my case– when disorganization looked like me trying to manage things with little scraps of paper accumulated on my dresser and desk. I couldn’t see the big picture among all the little scraps of paper and to-do items and appointments. Eventually, I got a revolutionary invention called LifeTime Management System. It was a big notebook that consolidated my calendar with my to-do list and allowed me to stay focused and keep everything in one place (including my communication records).
Again now I’m seeing increasing numbers of people dealing with fragmentation in their life. Many people are running their calendars off of their smartphones, but they have multiple other apps that do all kinds of things, but they’re not integrated together. Now instead of little scraps of paper, we have little screens. With move to electronic formatting on small objects, it’s resembling the same kind of chaos we used to have. It looks different but the effect is the same—we can’t see the big picture and we are dealing with a kind of fragmentation that keeps us busy but not very effective.
What’s needed is an integrated system so you can track all the important details easily in one place easily. That kind of organizing system can then be combined with a planning cycle. Here’s what I recommend:
- Take 15 to 30 minutes daily to plan the next day.
- Take 1-2 hours weekly to plan the next week.
- Take 3-4 hours monthly to plan the next month.
- Take 1 day quarterly to plan the next quarter.
- Take 2-3 days annually to plan the next year.
We can use these times to establish our priorities and set our appointments to reflect those priorities. The cycle creates a rhythm for figuring out how to simplify our lives and prioritize our time. Setting aside time for intentional planning—combined with a system for tracking all of our important details and follow up items in one place—helps you see the big picture and live accordingly.