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Eileen McClelland

Time-Management Tips for a Time-Crunched Month

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On a plane headed for a long-anticipated vacation last week, I wondered how I would forget about work for a whole week. I had a lot of deadlines looming and a whole lot to keep track of.

That kind of thing typically keeps me up at night, since I tend to keep to-do lists bouncing around in my head.

I’m not the only one. Dave Allen, time-management guru estimates people keep 100 hours of distracting, undone stuff in their heads. Allen advocates creating lists and then coming up with “next actions.”

So, on the plane, I pulled out my iPhone and compiled a quick to-do list on the Notes app, including everything I could think of that I had to do when I got back to work — including writing this blog. I know I should do that routinely but we have checklists and other safeguards, so I don’t always keep my own detailed to-do list.

Of course, it worked. I didn’t think about what I needed to do for work even once, freeing up all that time to truly relax and enjoy my vacation.

And when I got back to work, I was ready to start right up without wasting any additional time.

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That common sense experience led me to think about INSTORE’s February lead story about how to find more minutes in every day.

Many Brain Squad members who responded to our question about that topic did cite to-do lists as a very important time-management tool.

Lex Harrison of GM Jewelers in San Jacinto, CA, recommends planning your day in writing before it begins. "Every evening have the next day planned as best as possible, knowing what you need to do or accomplish for the day. Stick to it as best as possible. Check your plan throughout the day and at the end of the day. This is not rocket science, but it must be written down."

On a related topic, there is some debate among INSTORE’s Brain Squad on the value of multi-tasking, but I tend to agree with Deric Metzger of DeMer Jewelry in Carsbad, CA, who says, “NEVER multi-task.” "Trying to do three things at once reduces the quality of each and prolongs the time it takes to complete,” Metzger says. “Having a one-track mind is the key."

But might it be OK for habitual multi-taskers (I admit I fall reluctantly into that harried camp) to combine a few simple activities?

David Blitt of Troy Shoppe Jewellers in Alberta, Canada, says yes, it is OK, but even that kind of multi-tasking should be undertaken carefully. “Pick out clothes for the day while you brush your teeth – just don’t get spit on everything!”

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