Summary of Mark Forster’s Time/Life Management System
1. Chuck everything out of your life you haven’t got time to do properly
2. If it needs doing, it must be done! Rotate your attention so you deal with each area of your business in turn.
3. Create systems- if something isn’t working , take time to figure out why and change the system so it does work. Use checklists to ensure nothing is forgotten
4. You need ‘in-depth’ activities, schedule time for yourself on a daily basis
5. Employ yourself- give yourself fixed hours, breaks etc so there are times when you switch off from your business
6. Whenever you sense that you are resisting something, treat that as a sign post to where you should be going
I've found the ideas below particularly helpful...
Different Tasks and Their Management
There are only 3 types of task
1. Tasks that come with a time attached
2. Tasks that should have a time attached (depth activities)
3. Tasks that do not have a time attached (free flowing activities)
1. Tasks that come with a time attached
E.g. meetings, appointments, performances, TV programmes etc
- Often involve other people
- Time is critical- be on time or suffer consequences
- They usually take up more time than we expect (e.g. the meeting may only be half an hour but getting there, chit chat and getting away may make it at least an hour)
- To make more time consider if you’re really getting value from these
2. Depth activities need a time attached or they get shunted aside
- Modern life tends to involve many activities so we can not give our full attention and do them in sufficient dept to get satisfaction.
- Choose some activities to get into deeply.
- E.g. studying, exercise, meditation.
- They give us a sense of calm and when we succeed in doing them the day feels right.
- Trouble is they are first to go when we feel short of time
- Best way is to schedule specific time each day/week
- First thing in the morning ensures nothing else gets in the way! Or just after returning from work
- Taking on too many in depth activities sets you up to fail! If you want to do more than one, introduce them into your life one at a time, making sure each is established before bringing in the next.
3. Free Flowing items
- Like the water that flows around the rocks- the rocks are the scheduled items in our day
- Long term deadlines give us flexibility
- If you’re filling in your time with easy work, you could be avoiding the more challenging work which will achieve your goals.
The Short Burst System
- Working in short bursts is the key to overcoming resistance.
- Start with as little as 5 mins
- Limiting the amount of time you spend on one activity will keep you focused.
- Be strict! Use a timer.
- Leave the task unfinished and your subconscious mind will keep working on the problem. You’ll also be motivated to do more.
- Lengthen the bursts as momentum builds up, max 40 mins
- Rotating systematically round a list of projects ensures all areas of work are covered.
Use checklists rather than ‘to do’ lists
- Easier for organisation and prioritisation
- Checklists relate to doing a job well
- Draw up list of routine things that need to be handled each day, then add projects
- Keep to maximum of 10 items
Use bursts for rest periods as well
- Having an end point in mind can help make the most of your break
- Create a checklist.
- Put a ‘5’ next to each item to indicate the ‘5 mins’ you will spend doing this
- Spend 5 mins on the first item then cross through the ‘5’
- Continue until you’ve worked through the list spending 5 mins on each item.
- Put a ‘10’ next to each item
- Repeat with 10 mins for each thing
- Continue round the cycle doubling the time each lap to a maximum of 40 mins
- When you complete something reduce the time allocation to 5 again
- Move swiftly from one task to the next
- If you’re interrupted just return to where you were
- Keep your checklists organised in a suitable file
- Vary the length of the burst to suit you
- Solve problems by writing about them as a ‘stream of consciousness’ for a fixed period
Adapted from Get Everything Done- and still have time to play, By Mark Forster