Time Management Crash Course - Lesson 3

Developing your trusted system

Welcome to lesson 3 of our crash time management course. In this lesson we talk about

  1. how to build a trusted system
  2. the benefits of building a trusted system in lowering stress

Please note: while I talk videos below using Outlook as my example, this could easily be applied to Gmail, Lotus Notes, or for pen and paper.

Developing your Trusted System

Homework from this lesson

1. Determine where you will keep your trusted system. On which device are you going to keep all of your actions. For most people, most actions come through email so it makes sense to connect your trusted system with Outlook or Gmail

2. Go through each bucket of information/actions. The aim here is to separate information from action. Information gets filed, actions go into your trusted system. It is a trusted system because it holds all of your actions.

  • Look at your paper on your desk and look to get the actions out into your system
  • Check in on what you are remembering to do and put these actions down in your system.
  • Check your meeting notes and voice mails. Extract any actions and put into your system.

3. With the actions in your trusted system determine if they are small or not. Small actions can go in tasks (if you are using Outlook) or onto a list. Large actions (those more than 15 minutes) need to be scheduled into your calendar. 

Lesson 3: Text Summary

Centralize your work, prioritize, then schedule.

I remember working with a client who was waking up every night at 3 AM and writing down all the things that she had forgotten to do on her to-do list that was sitting beside her bed. After learning to use tasks and calendar as a trusted system the feedback was that she was not only more productive but also she was actually not waking up in the middle of the night anxious that she had missed something. 

The principal here is that any action of any kind is trapped in your calendar all your tasks, or in your Workly© (more on the Workly later). So it becomes a trusted system. 

Now of course not everything in your world that you need to action arrives via email. Some actions may arrive from just thoughts and ideas - however one place you should not store your tasks is in your head. All good task management experts recommend getting out of the habit of trying to rely on your memory for tracking tasks. 

Some actions arrive via phone calls. Think of your voicemail as a big pile of paper with buried to-dos in it. It’s adding to your sense of your work day being out of control. From now on whenever you listen to a voicemail immediately determine the actions needed and place it into an Outlook task or in your calendar or in the Workly. 

The same thing goes when you attend meetings. Rather than leaving the meeting action sitting in one of your many meeting books, centralize the actions and gather them into your world. 

It may be piles of paper sitting on your desk. One of the common sources of stress is stacks of paper sitting on your physical desktop or your bookshelf or your cabinet or in your desk drawer. A primary benefit of implementing an effective system is no longer feeling haunted by piles of paper that you know contain things you need to work on. 

Well the key here is a piece of mind. It’s ensuring that all these actions, wherever they arrive from, are entered into your system so that nothing slips through the cracks. So what we want to do is actually quite systematically go through all these buckets of information and actions, and put them into the new system. This is the system that we’ve already talked about in the last video.

Please note, I haven’t put on top of this system the pressure of prioritization, that’s coming through later when talk about ‘Doing What Matters’ which is in lesson 5 through to 8 of this time management course. 

Catching all actions as they arrive should be actually and ongoing practice however reviewing everything you’ve caught along the way happens systematically, once a week. This is where weekly planning comes in handy. This way we remain responsive to what’s on the near horizon before we lock in on our commitments. So in order to catch all these actions on the fly you’re going to need to decide on a collection device. 

Once a week we check-in on all the actions that have been caught and we weigh them up against any other commitments that are in our calendar. Your collection device might be a notepad an app on your phone or you could place incoming weekly actions directly into your Workly which will talk about in subsequent videos.

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