Tuesday, January 30, 2007

CAD Mgmt Toolbox: Notebook

Get a notebook and carry it with you everywhere. I’m not talking about a notebook computer (though that would be nice). I’m talking about a good, old-fashioned, spiral notebook with lined paper. You can invest in a nice Day-Timer® or similar system, but if you are innately a “problem-solver” you will feel “restricted” by this type of system. To you, any system eventually needs to be improved. So a Day-Timer or similar system may not work for you right now. And stop using sticky notes, “while you were out” pads, backs of envelopes, etc. That system isn’t really working either, is it? Get a notebook that is easy for you to keep up with and write in anywhere. And when I say carry it everywhere, I mean everywhere. I’ve actually had a people follow me into the restroom and start talking to me about a project.

You’re going to use your notebook to list the tasks that need to be done, track the things you do, and summarize meetings and conversations. Let me get really specific. Every night, make a task list for the next day on one half of the page (imagine the page has two columns, draw a line, whatever – I’m not going to get that specific). Prioritize the top three things that have to be done. Now, during the day, keep track of what you actually do in the other column. Keep looking at those top three priorities for the day and use whatever time you can to accomplish them.

Okay, so far, all I’ve told you is how to use up more of your precious time each day making lists and taking notes. Now let me talk about why you want to do this – because you don’t know what you don’t know. If you are going to be successful in accomplishing your goals, you need to know what they are and head toward them with your daily tasks. If you want to spend time accomplishing those goals, you will need to identify how your present time resources are spent. Once you know what the largest time wasters are you can work toward minimizing or eliminating them. The daily task list and time tracking takes discipline, but the result is more focus (and at first, more frustration) on your priority tasks and more information for defining improvements. For example, if you are daily restoring files from backup media, you probably have some training and procedure issues to do. If you are clearing paper jams in the plotter every two to three days, you probably need to make a support call, etc.

Tell me about your time management tools. Let me know what you’ve tried, what’s worked, and what hasn’t worked.

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