Part 1 Time Management Fundamentals

In order to make myself a better developer, I have identified time management as a skill I would like to improve on. Some people might think that just because I have autism and tourettes I would be like rain man and remember everything about everything…. The reality simply couldn’t be further than the truth. I have to work really hard on my time management processes. So today, I have looked at Time Management Fundamentals in order to get a better understanding of how to best manage my time and find some peace of mind, while performing at a higher level in my work.

Active multi tasking

Can I do more than one thing at once? Actually no i can’t. I am unable to design a resource, programme it and gain the technical knowledge needed to develop in a new software programme, as we have had to recently. Yes each of those activities are interdependent but I can’t do them all at once, I would just end up switching from one to the other. I need to scope out a plan, so that each section of the development unfolds in a logical practical way.

So how can I manage my time in order to achieve this in the best way? I have taken on board some guiding principles, the first being, minimise my gathering points. I have gathering points such as piles of meeting notes and job lists, diary’s are massively important, but I have four of them and have now cut them down to two to help minimise any confusion, I also find that keeping all my working files in one easy to find folder on my computer really helps with work flow. The more gathering points one has the more switches one has to make and the more time is wasted by going from one to another.

Stop using your mind as a gathering point! This is my main point of failure, I forget just about everything! I have to write it down and if im on the move, I use my phone, we have Redbooth app and software, this is the best todo list in the world for keeping track of the learning objects we develop on a daily basis as well as the more general work we are tasked to do so its a perfect one stop task shop. I take a notepad to meetings and when I get back to my desk I put this information into my desk inbox area ready for processing.

At the end of the day I would normally use “sticky notes” on my PC for a todo list if i need to remember to do something first thing the following day, such as a line of code. But come to think about it i could use redbooth to do this, even further narrowing my gathering points.

Consolidating email accounts

Email accounts….  I have a work email account and at least 5 other email accounts, all serving different purposes over the years.

One thing that grabbed my attention was combining both work and personal mail accounts. Let it be said that you would only process personal items in personal time and work items in work time.

All your looking to do is to centralise the processing of emails into one email box, and processing them in the same way.

  • “what” you going to do,
  • “when” your going to do it, and
  • “where” the home for the items is

The intention is to minimize the amount of collection points in your life, ideally to just 5.

  1. one physical inbox
  2. one portable inbox
  3. one notepad
  4. one email inbox
  5. one voicemail account

This then minimizes things getting forgotten about.

Clearing your mind

The reason I did the course was to help me reduce the clutter in my mind so I would be happy that I am achieving all the things I said I would.

If you can’t find a point at which to start your to do list this next step will really help. You may have already downloaded the exercise files, if not please find the link at the top of the page. Please find the file “Mental Triggers”. 

It is suggested that you do this with someone else as it will keep your mind clear for thinking, as your partner goes through the triggers list, if anything comes to mind that is unresolved write it down. If something comes to mind that is unrelated thats fine to write down too. Just get those things to do out so you can see them. You can however do it on your own if need be. It doesnt matter that at some points nothing comes to mind, when something needs to it will and that may open the floodgates of things for your to do list. It is then suggested that you clear your mind in this way once every three months. I decided that i would do a small brain dump every two or three days, so I put it in the calendar as a scheduled event.

Now that I have a load of things to do how am I going to deal with them, it is suggested that when processing decide what the next step is to completing something,  When your going to do it, and where it’s home is. What, when and where processing is at the heart of a to do list.  Its realy important that when you start to process that you only process one thing at once otherwise you are switch tasking and you are liable to make mistakes

Here ends part 1 of Time Management Fundamentals, part 2 follows in the New Year! Have a great holiday everyone.


This blog is based on the Lynda course: Time Management Fundamentals, please download the exercise files Time Management Fundamentals exercise files.
The exercise files will help you when it comes to “clearing your mind”.

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