Diary Tips

09.10.2017 |

Episode #9 of the course Efficient time management by Chris Croft


We saw yesterday that it’s vital to have a master list and a daily list; the master list could be long and contain everything, while the daily list is ten items max and written every day.

But there’s one more ingredient to the efficient person’s organization system, and that’s their diary, or “calendar.” This is additional to your master list and daily list—you need all three.

Still found in paper form sometimes, diaries are more often on phones nowadays, like Outlook or Google Calendar, but whichever type you use, there are three things you need to know about the best use of diaries.


Block in Some Time for Getting Ahead

Ideally, you would put aside half an hour every day for yourself—for thinking, investigating problems and preventing repeats, or learning. Basically, things that are important but not yet urgent, before they get to be urgent. If you block out the time, you are more likely to keep it undisturbed.

If you block out half an hour every day, that’s 100 hours a year, nearly three weeks of solid time—you’ll get a lot of great stuff done! Occasionally, you’ll have to give up this time for something or someone urgent, but it’s like a fleet of little ships—most of them get through. If you are always shifting this block of time, then it’s a sign that you need to say no more or negotiate or delegate better!


Don’t Fill Your Diary 100% Full

If your diary for tomorrow is already completely full, what is going to happen? More things will come in, urgent things, so you’ll have to either cancel some stuff—which should never have been put in there in the first place—or you’ll have to run late (annoying everyone) and then eat into your personal home time. That’s bad!

So, the key is to keep between 20% and 50% of your day free for things that are going to crop up, and to start saying “no” to other bookings once you reach 50-80% full. Of course, if it can’t wait, then okay, that’s what the last bit of your diary is for, but if it CAN wait, make it wait.

Once your diary reaches 100% full, then you HAVE to say, “Can it wait till tomorrow?” So, instead, why not say that sooner? Why not say, “I’ve got no time free on Wednesday; how about Thursday?” before your diary is full.

You’re not lying, because by the time you get to Wednesday, it will be completely full, as it’s already on 80% now.


Follow Up

If anyone promises to do something for you, ask them when you’ll receive it, and make a note in your diary on that date. Then, if you don’t get it, you’ll be reminded to ask them where it is. And if you do get it, you’ll be reminded to thank them! These are two reasons why people will be more likely to keep their promises to you.


Write Everything Down

In fact, if you promise something to someone else, you should also write it down somewhere. Here are a few useful tips:

• If you don’t know when you’ll do it, you would add it to your master list, and later, it can go to your daily list or diary when you have space.

• If it’s just a small thing that you can do today, add it straight to your daily jobs to-do list.

• If it’s time-fixed—“He’s back on Thursday, so I’ll call him on Friday,” or, “I’m back on Monday, so I’ll do it on Tuesday”—then put it in your diary, and do it when the time comes.

The big thing is to write it down somewhere, so you won’t ever forget it, and you don’t need to waste any of your mental effort on remembering things.

I’ll see you tomorrow for the final lesson, something important that I’ve been putting off until now.

Homework: Have a look at your diary:

• Are there some appointments with yourself?

• Is it 100% full?

• Have you made notes of any actions promised to you by other people?

Could you start doing these three things? Are you writing everything down in one of the three places: master list, daily list, and diary?


Recommended book

Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy


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