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« Useful Google Features | Main | Feedback from 19 September seminar »

Three Skills of an Effective Time Manager

I was asked the other day what I considered to be the skills needed for effective time management. I could of course have produced a list as long as my arm, but on reflection I decided that there were three skills which lie at the root of being effective. In fact they are not so much skills as attitudes.

  1. What’s really important? The ability to identify what is really important to your work and the determination to concentrate on it is fundamental. To identify this you have to be quite clear what you are aiming to achieve overall and what is needed to get there. This attitude is the exact opposite of the sort of “thinking” behind phrases like I really need to run a marketing campaign, but I haven’t been able to get round to it.
  2. Think systems. Businesses are often made or broken by how good their systems are. If your own personal systems are bad they will waste vast amounts of your time and hold you back. Poor time managers tend to use “work-arounds” when a system doesn’t work properly. Effective time managers take the time to put the system right so that the work-arounds are no longer necessary.
  3. Work to completion. The effective time manager never leaves things unfinished. That doesn’t mean that he or she necessarily finishes everything in one session. What it does mean is that the momentum is kept going and that loose ends are tidied up. Poor time managers tend to start projects off with a burst of enthusiasm and then let them slide once the original enthusiasm has abated. The result is not only that the project isn’t completed but that the time spent on it is not available for other projects.

Over the next few days I intend to write in a bit more depth about each of these three subjects.

Reader Comments (3)

I like your list, Mark. I was thinking:

o know what's important
o make solid progress on it
o have a working, efficient system for staying on top of all incoming

I guess I've been reading too much Mark Forster :-)
October 28, 2007 at 3:54 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Cornell
I think this post is one of the best things I have ever read. It is easy to get caught up in more and more thoughts and ideas, and forget the simple things that make a difference. A big one for me is simply (not thinking about) doing one thing at a time, and being an ordinary human being and completing it. It is amazing how much can not get done, by trying to be a premature superhero. I will do one thing. Then one other thing. Then I will have a break. Repeat.
February 25, 2008 at 16:08 | Unregistered CommenterChris
Dear Chris

Yes, the secret is to do one thing at a time, and do it as if it were the only thing you have to do.
February 25, 2008 at 16:33 | Registered CommenterMark Forster

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