A Time Management System That Never Crashes

Laurel BlackI just read the guest blog about bringing cupcakes. It was excellent! I too have just posted on my own blog, a short piece about my personal time management method. (I am trying very hard to post weekly as a marketing goal for 2012.) Here’s an excerpt:

At the beginning of every week, I take a piece of paper out of my printer and fold it into thirds and again into half. I then have 6 squares. Five are labeled Monday through Friday with their respective calendar dates, and the sixth is where I put a list of job tasks that have to be worked on that week.

I then prioritize those in order of how soon they’re due by numbering them. Then I look in my day planner for meetings, deadlines, etc. and write them down with their hour times in the appropriate day box.

I include things like when I’m going to go to the Y and anything else that is important (like a doctor’s appointment). I now have the whole week spread out in front of me and I can see at a glance how much work time I have (provided I don’t goof off playing Minesweeper and reading blogs).

As things come up, I erase and revise. Easy peasy. Takes about five minutes, nothing to install and it never crashes.

Anyone else still using paper?

13 thoughts on “A Time Management System That Never Crashes

  1. Jennifer

    Folding a piece of paper into 6 squares is a very creative concept and I like how you use the squares. Kudos!

    I hope you don’t mind my asking, do you carry the piece of paper with you when you go out to meetings etc…so you can update it or change it?

    I use a 22″ x 17″ 12-Month Desk Pad Calendar (meant for your desk) and pin up the current month’s single sheet to a bulletin board, on the wall right in front of my desk.

    I use it for client appointments and meetings only. It’s handy because when the phone rings with a prospective client requesting a meeting, I can check my availability at a glance.

  2. Laurel Black

    I like your calendar-on-the-wall idea, Jennifer! Yes, I carry the piece of paper with me tucked into my day planner so I can tell at a glance whether I’m still within the bounds of reality of how much work I can done in the coming days, as well as my availability.

    1. Jennifer

      Hi Laurel,

      Thanks again for the update about your portable time management system concept. I’m glad you like my wall calendar idea. It’s a keeper! Wishing you a happy and prosperous year ahead.

  3. Philip Martin

    Great post, Laurel! Likewise, I mostly use a weekly paper print-out for my main project scheduling, with electronic reminders from iCal (Mac calendar program). I also happen to work with printed books, mostly, as a indie-press publisher (Crickhollow Books). This discussion of paper vs. electronic touches on important issues (and is seen in the eBook vs. printed book debate; don’t get me started! Here’s related blog post on that for any interested:
    http://writershandbook.wordpress.com/2010/01/14/kindle-schmindle-hey-i-love-real-books/)

    We often buy the line that new is better (which happens to be reinforced by a lot of media and sellers of electronic-based stuff.) And the new stuff often has cool features. But the basic stuff that we really want to do is often served best by older time-tested technology . . . like paper.

    Although you don’t often hear it, paper functions extremely well. In the case of planning calendars, it has visibility (it’s seen throughout the day), physicality (writing on a piece of paper), personalization, adaptability, some aesthetic features, etc. These aspects of paper-based systems help us do what we’re trying to do: plan and track, grasp the totality of a week, and be creative.

    I’m not anti-electronic device, just know what works better, at least for me.

    1. Laurel Black

      Philip, what a great blog post (and I highly recommend it to the rest of you folks) – thanks for sharing the link! I was amused by the Luddite reference in the 2nd paragraph – the original title of my post was “Time Managment the Luddite Way.” I would never give up my electronic menagerie, but I will go to my grave in love with ink and paper. I am also a printmaker (stone lithography), so my appreciation of the tactile runs deep. I love both paper and digital media and do not think they are mutually exclusive. I am glad I get to live in a time when I can have both.

  4. Darrell

    Paper and pen all the way. You can’t beat it, and I actually find it much quicker/easier than software. I’ve heard cries of, “Oh you are so out of touch, behind the times etc…” I use 8 x 10 note books (in combination with ring-binders) – and of course, you can’t pick up a digital spreadsheet, and feel it’s papery goodness.

    Enjoyed the article.

  5. Leslie Newman

    I like the simplicity of your method. I do something similar to track my productivity. At the beginning of the year, using iCal, I print out a weekly calendar for the entire year. It’s clipped together and always on my desk. As I work, I jot down the billable time I spend each day, this way I have an at a glance way to see if I’m ontrack with goals, and how much time I waste. I total billable hours by day, then week, then month. I know I can also track it with Quickbooks, but this is more immediate and effective for me. I’m also a paper list maker and I agree with you, the physical act of writing makes it real.

  6. Mauricio Pavón

    I totally agree with your method! I have my own version and it works just fine…
    It´s so nice to find someone who is not so into electronic “organizers”

  7. Joseph E.

    Great time tracking tools Laurel, pencil and paper comes in handy when working. I would say that it is very effective to track time that way. It is more accurate and less error when you take down your own productive time. It can also serve as a reference for further use. However, I currently been using this tool to track my productive time. Using this tool it tracks time accurately when working on different tasks. I cannot also deny that it sometimes gets error but they fix it immediately. In order to be secure of my productive time I often take screenshots so that I can assure that my productive time are correct. Until now I used this tool and it works great for me. There are different online tools that can be use. It is depends on what you needed most and in my personal experience I am more productive this way.

  8. Laurel Black

    @ Mauricio – so nice when when I meet another part-time techie. Perhaps the real issue is to find ways to be productively selective about what we choose to use in our lives.
    @ Joseph – Time Doctor looks very interesting – thanks for sharing the link!

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