Three Time Management Myths

Several weeks ago, taught a two-day class on Effective Time Management. There are lots of blogs and books about managing your time (I’ve even written one) and there are some “conventional wisdom” concepts that are familiar to any of us who are interested in being more productive…the types of concepts you would expect to hear in classes such as this, or read in books about productivity.

However, I’ve started to wonder if some of the “conventional wisdom” of productivity concepts are actually myths–at least for some people.

Here are a few that I find I am thinking differently about:

Don’t Check Your Email First Thing in the Morning

If I’d followed that advice the morning I drafted this post, I wouldn’t have had the lead time to make some changes to my schedule. Apparently during my bed time, a couple of emails were exchanged regarding the possibility of a different place for a lunch gathering today. By seeing that email early in the morning, I was able to adjust my schedule for the day more easily.

I do realize email can distract us and we shouldn’t be addicted to it. However, a quick glance in the morning may not hurt, to see what, if anything, may change the course of your plans for the day.

Only Check Email at Set Times of the Day

For some positions, I can go along with this. But for the types of positions I’ve held in the past (many years as administrative assistant/office manager) email was the source of much of my day’s work. It was also important to me to give quick answers to those we served. Thus, I never got into the idea of batching emails for certain times of the day. For the most part, I’m able to monitor it as it comes in, respond if necessary, or drag it into a task list, and go on my way. That works for my personality and workflow. It may not work for you, but the assumption that everyone should only look at emails at certain times of the day is too general.

Make Appointments on Your Calendar for Projects and Tasks

I used to do this. In fact, friends used to good-naturedly joke with me when they learned I would schedule out even mundane things. I finally learned, though, that my days did not often follow the exact flow I put in the calendar. So now I save my calendar for set appointments (sometimes referred to as “hard lines”) and then just use a pad or white board during my morning quiet time to map out a specific approach to the day’s tasks, making adjustments as the day goes on, for the spaces in between. For example, I’m currently at a coffee shop and have jotted down a basic plan of attack for doing my writing. That doesn’t have to be on my main, electronic calendar. (And to be honest, I’m often adjusting that paper/white board to deal with internal and external distractions, which is easier than changing the electronic calendar throughout the day.)

[callout]Making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:16[/callout]

How about you? Are there any pieces of conventional time management advice that you actually find do not work for you? Share your thoughts!

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