Managing your time is hard.

It is hard with everything else that is going on to make time for blogging, hence why my posts here have been somewhat infrequent. Time management has never been a great strength of mine, but two things have happened in the last few weeks which give me cause for optimism.

By themselves they are small, but together they can have a massive impact upon your ability to get things done.

1. Inbox zero

The basic tenant is that the most effective way of dealing with an overflowing inbox is to process to zero. An inbox is not a to-do list and should not be treated like one. Every single email is either replied to, deleted, archived or moved to a “to-do” list. Be ruthless.

I won’t go into great detail about the why and how, for Merlin does a much better job of explaining it than I would. – links through to the original series of posts on 43folders.

You can also catch Merlin discussing the concept at a Google tech talk. Watch it through while preparing dinner one night as I did, and you will find it worthwhile investing the 60 minutes it takes to watch.

Take your inbox zero methodology and combine it with concept number two.

2. Schedule EVERYTHING

A to-do list of 10 items that doesn’t have a schedule is a waste of time. Trust me, this is 10 years of corporate life talking here. Over the years I have created a myriad of to-do items, and then wondered why at the end of the day I only achieved 3 of my 10 tasks.

3 out of 10. Am I inefficient or just plain lazy?

As it turns out, it’s neither (although my girlfriend may disagree about the laziness call).

The problem is that it was never possible in the first place to achieve all ten tasks in one day. It looks so easy on paper…ten little things to do….should have this all wrapped up by lunchtime…duck out to the noodle house for dumplings….come back and spend the last 5 hours working on fun stuff. Too easy.

It doesn’t work. It sounds so simple, but the answer is simply to schedule everything in your day. Take your ten tasks, work out how long each is going to take and then plot them into your favoured calendar tool.

To show you what I mean, here is my actual calendar for today.

Thursday Calendar

Everything I want to achieve today is slotted into a time. Even lunch. I am only writing this blog post because I was scheduled to do so!

I know..I know. You are thinking “This is so obvious, what are you going to teach us next…the multiplication tables?”

My only response is, yes it is mind blowingly obvious. But do you do it?

The upshot of all that is that I am now scheduling regular blog posts. Proper detail, to really fill you in on what it is like to go through the process of starting your own company. The first is being written this weekend, so come back Monday for some more.

Scheduled blog posts means they get done. Inbox zero means I have the time to do them.


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