Time Management for the . . .

Photo by Dawn Huczek

I am wicked busy.

Now, much of it is my choice and most of it is profitable. There is very little I would change about the projects I accept, but there is no denying: I am busy. No doubt, you are busy, too. And so here are the strategies I have been implementing for 2011:

1. I write things down. Someone once told me that writing things down doesn’t help us remember; it frees us to forget. So we can concentrate on doing rather than remembering. I have spent far too much time in my life re-tracing steps or wracking my memory for misplaced thoughts.

2. I carry a planner. (It’s a hardback so I can take it through rainforests and editorial conferences without concern.) As soon as I make a commitment, I write it down. Dozens of forgotten commitments over the years have taught me that the annoyance of writing something down beats the disappointment of letting someone down. So I have no problem saying, “Excuse me a moment while I jot myself a note.” Most people only throw tomatoes.

3. I (am learning to) delegate effectively. If I can pass off a task without neglecting my responsibility, I will do it. Why take on work that others are willing to do? Very rarely do I decline an offer for assistance if it doesn’t threaten my conscience.

4. I prioritize my to-do list hourly. Forget prioritizing once at the beginning of the day. Who knows what can transpire in a morning or afternoon? The question really should be, “What needs to be done now?” This question has replaced, “What would be most enjoyable?” or “What do I feel like doing?”

5. I (am learning to) say, “no.” Not as in, “I don’t want to help you” or “You don’t deserve my time.” Those would be inappropriate responses to someone with a need. “No” can sometimes mean, “This isn’t in the best interest for either of us. Here is my proposed solution.”

And those are my strategies . . . for now.

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