You know how to set up a time management system. Chapeau. You even know how to set it up as optimally as possible. Bravo. What you may not know yet is how to keep it reliable. Equally important: because only a comprehensive system works. So sit tight – preferably on a weekly basis – and keep your system up to date.
Only a watertight time management system works
To really reap the benefits of your time management system, you will have to keep it up to date. After all, if it contains only a ‘pick of the bunch’, you will not only lose track of things, you will also have to deal with stress and brooding thoughts.
“I still had a task I had to do… but which one?” and “Did I have an appointment at 13.00 or at 14.00?”.
It is therefore important that your system really contains all your tasks, appointments and projects that you usually deal with. If anything is missing, it is simply not ‘watertight’ – you cannot rely on it. It leaks. As a result, your entire system is useless. As we say in our Time Management training:
“A time management system that is ‘as good as’ watertight gives as much peace of mind as a bathtub that is ‘as good as’ watertight. The only thing you can depend on then is that it leaks.”
Therefore, what you need is a weekly reflection.
In fact, taking time to check your system weekly acts as a cork. You avoid overlooking things – preventing things from seeping through. You maintain an overview, can close the current week neatly, and prepare for the week ahead.
Perform the weekly reflection in 8 easy steps
To carry out this reflection, choose a fixed time during the week when you check things over – Friday afternoon, for example, or Sunday morning. Make time for it right away in your diary so no one disturbs you. At most, 30 minutes to an hour.
Then go through. Every week, no exceptions. After all, only once you make it a habit your brain will know the eight steps below: “I don’t need to worry, every Friday we’ll go over everything anyway.” An agreement with yourself that you stick to.
Step 1: Clear your to-do list
Were you able to complete all the tasks you had set for yourself this week? Or are there still some things unchecked in your task manager? In the latter case, decide what to do with them: do you carry them forward to the coming week or do you delete them?
Step 2: Processing your notes
Process your (digital or analogue) notes using the OHIO method. For each note, decide whether you can discard it or whether something still needs to be done with it. Maybe you come across another appointment or a hidden task. In that case, schedule it in your diary or task manager.
Step 3: Mailbox Zero
Again, you know how to work with the OHIO method: during your weekly reflection, check your inbox and process mail you didn’t get to during the week. Really try to aim for Mailbox Zero status: 0 messages in your inbox at the end of the week.
Step 4: Update your diary
Look at your schedule for the past week. Which appointments did you attend? Which projects did you work on? Go through them one by one and evaluate: did you manage everything or was the time you set aside too optimistic? Were there things left over? Keep these loose ends in mind.
Step 5: Look ahead
Take a critical look at your task manager and diary. What do the coming weeks look like? What tasks and appointments will you have to deal with? Are you prepared for them? Is the time you have scheduled for them realistic or perhaps a little too tight? Adjust your planning if necessary.
Step 6: Check your project list
The projects you are currently working on, are they still running? Are there any upcoming actions planned so that you – or someone else – can get ahead in the coming week? Perhaps some projects are delayed; why is that, and can you come up with any follow-up actions to get the project moving again?
Step 7: Do a mini scrum
If you were able to close projects this week, choose one or two new projects to bite your teeth into in the coming week. Go through your project list again and decide which job(s) have the highest priority. A mini scrum helps with this. Then, by dividing the project into manageable chunks, you make it doable – providing you don’t forget to actually make time for it in your diary!
Step 8: Make it watertight
Run through everything again. Just to be sure. That way, you can be sure you won’t overlook any task or appointment. The trigger list helps with this. This way, you go over each item point by point, and can start the coming (work) week with a peace of mind, knowing that your time management system is watertight.
Every week, take some time to reflect on the past week, as well as that week approaching. It helps you to keep an overview. It allows you to neatly wrap up the tasks and appointments you have behind you, and start the week ahead in good spirits. You have an overview and peace of mind – all because you know your time management system is up to date.
Want to know more?
In our latest article, we look back at what you learned during our 1-day training time management. We give you tools so that you can put all the techniques and methods into practice. So be sure to read it if you want to make the most of your time management insights!