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Scoring 100% in Time Management

Scoring 100% in Time Management

Scoring 100% in Time Management

    Excellent school Exam grade

      “Most people who attempt to learn a new time management system fail.”

      I can’t prove the above statement with hard facts, but I have a sense that it’s true, based on my personal experience and observations.  If success is defined as 100% successful implementation, then that statistic is most certainly true.

      On the other hand, perhaps 99% of the people who take a time management program put down the book, or drive back home, agreeing with 100% of the ideas.

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      So, the million dollar question is: what’s the problem?

      Did the time management gurus blind them with their brilliance?  Or does it prove that we are all a bunch of lazy good-for-nothings with short attention spans, suffering from various degrees of ADHD?

      The problem is not something that’s addressed by the gurus, and it’s actually something that is being ignored by gurus and devotees alike.

      It’s a problem in what we think time management IS.

      Learning a new time management system is not like learning differential calculus, financial accounting or particle physics.  Each of these subject-areas are new to most people, who typically come to them like a blank canvas, and without any homegrown capability whatsoever.  Most of us haven’t figured out our own system of computing depreciation before stepping into accounting 101.

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      Ironically, our ignorance helps..  A new system of thinking is easier to learn when it’s completely fresh to us, and only requires us to be ready, willing and able.

      Learning a new approach to time management is much more difficult, because standing in the way of a shiny new system is the one that we are already using.

      That’s the same one we first put together when we entered high school, refined when we were in college, adapted when we got our first job, and started suffered with when we got married and found a bunch of stuff falling through the cracks for the first time.

      That’s “the time management system we never knew we had.”

      (For some of us, calling it a system might be too much of a mental leap, but it’s tough to get through college without having put something in place.)

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      This “system we never knew we had” is comprised of habits, practices and rituals that have been practiced over the years and are now built into our neuro-muscular systems.  In this sense, we are more like smokers trying to quit some dangerous behaviors, than we are mathematicians learning some brand new techniques.

      Ask President Obama, or any smoker, and they’ll tell you… quitting is tough.

      But time management gurus don’t tell you that changing the habits that make up your current time management system is just as challenging. They don’t get you to appreciate what you are up against as you try to reverse decades of practice, reinforced by some positive results that convinced your subconscious that you had this time management thing beaten.

      Not only don’t you know all this, but most people try to learn a new time management system when they KNOW that their system is no longer successful.  As you ponder your latest failure, you are driven crazy with desire for the new system being offered that seems to be so logical, sensible and easy to understand.

      This only adds to the frustration.  It appears to be easy, but isn’t.

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      Here’s a concept: Forget about learning a new time management system, and instead take a program in “Habit Changing 101.” Discover the unique set of actions you must take to change your ingrained habits so that they stay changed.  Figure out the unique blend of goal-setting, community support, backup plans, rewards, punishments, reminders, coaching, etc. that you need to succeed.

      Once your special cocktail is figured out, then take any time management program that you want, implement the changes slowly (one habit at a time,) and take enough time to ensure that you won’t lapse into the old habits when the inevitable crises hit.

      You may still be failing to implement THEIR system the way it “should” be done, but you’ll be 100% effective at upgrading your own.

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      Francis Wade

      Author, Management Consultant

      How To Manage A Post-College Productivity Dip Why You Need to Understand and Accept Your Productive Type A Tendencies The New Lifehacking #7 – Why You Should Be Open to New Stuff, But Wary About Using It The New LifeHacking #6 – Staying Away from Harmful Gadgets The New Lifehacking #5 – Tricking Yourself into Making the Changes You Need

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      Last Updated on September 18, 2019

      How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

      How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

      Note-taking is one of those skills that rarely gets taught. Almost everyone assumes either that taking good notes comes naturally or, that someone else must have already taught about how to take notes. Then, we sit around and complain that our colleagues don’t know how to take notes.

      I figure it’s about time to do something about that. Whether you’re a student or a mid-level professional, the ability to take effective, meaningful notes is a crucial skill. Not only do good notes help us recall facts and ideas we may have forgotten, the act of writing things down helps many of us to remember them better in the first place.

      One of the reasons people have trouble taking effective notes is that they’re not really sure what notes are for. I think a lot of people, students and professionals alike, attempt to capture a complete record of a lecture, book, or meeting in their notes — to create, in effect, minutes. This is a recipe for failure.

      Trying to get every last fact and figure down like that leaves no room for thinking about what you’re writing and how it fits together. If you have a personal assistant, by all means, ask him or her to write minutes; if you’re on your own, though, your notes have a different purpose to fulfill.

      The purpose of note-taking is simple: to help you work better and more quickly. This means your notes don’t have to contain everything, they have to contain the most important things.

      And if you’re focused on capturing everything, you won’t have the spare mental “cycles” to recognize what’s truly important. Which means that later, when you’re studying for a big test or preparing a term paper, you’ll have to wade through all that extra garbage to uncover the few nuggets of important information?

      What to Write Down

      Your focus while taking notes should be two-fold. First, what’s new to you? There’s no point in writing down facts you already know. If you already know the Declaration of Independence was written and signed in 1776, there’s no reason to write that down. Anything you know you know, you can leave out of your notes.

      Second, what’s relevant? What information is most likely to be of use later, whether on a test, in an essay, or in completing a project? Focus on points that directly relate to or illustrate your reading (which means you’ll have to have actually done the reading…). The kinds of information to pay special attention to are:

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      Dates of Events

      Dates allow you to create a chronology, putting things in order according to when they happened, and understand the context of an event.

      For instance, knowing Isaac Newton was born in 1643 allows you to situate his work in relation to that of other physicists who came before and after him, as well as in relation to other trends of the 17th century.

      Names of People

      Being able to associate names with key ideas also helps remember ideas better and, when names come up again, to recognize ties between different ideas whether proposed by the same individuals or by people related in some way.

      Theories or Frameworks

      Any statement of a theory or frameworks should be recorded — they are the main points most of the time.

      Definitions

      Like theories, these are the main points and, unless you are positive you already know the definition of a term, should be written down.

      Keep in mind that many fields use everyday words in ways that are unfamiliar to us.

      Arguments and Debates

      Any list of pros and cons, any critique of a key idea, both sides of any debate or your reading should be recorded.

      This is the stuff that advancement in every discipline emerges from, and will help you understand both how ideas have changed (and why) but also the process of thought and development of the matter of subject.

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      Images

      Whenever an image is used to illustrate a point, a few words are in order to record the experience.

      Obviously it’s overkill to describe every tiny detail, but a short description of a painting or a short statement about what the class, session or meeting did should be enough to remind you and help reconstruct the experience.

      Other Stuff

      Just about anything a professor writes on a board should probably be written down, unless it’s either self-evident or something you already know. Titles of books, movies, TV series, and other media are usually useful, though they may be irrelevant to the topic at hand.

      I usually put this sort of stuff in the margin to look up later (it’s often useful for research papers, for example). Pay attention to other’s comments, too — try to capture at least the gist of comments that add to your understanding.

      Your Own Questions

      Make sure to record your own questions about the material as they occur to you. This will help you remember to ask the professor or look something up later, as well as prompt you to think through the gaps in your understanding.

      3 Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

      You don’t have to be super-fancy in your note-taking to be effective, but there are a few techniques that seem to work best for most people.

      1. Outlining

      Whether you use Roman numerals or bullet points, outlining is an effective way to capture the hierarchical relationships between ideas and data. For example, in a history class, you might write the name of an important leader, and under it the key events that he or she was involved in. Under each of them, a short description. And so on.

      Outlining is a great way to take notes from books, because the author has usually organized the material in a fairly effective way, and you can go from start to end of a chapter and simply reproduce that structure in your notes.

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      For lectures, however, outlining has limitations. The relationship between ideas isn’t always hierarchical, and the instructor might jump around a lot. A point later in the lecture might relate better to information earlier in the lecture, leaving you to either flip back and forth to find where the information goes best (and hope there’s still room to write it in), or risk losing the relationship between what the professor just said and what she said before.

      2. Mind-Mapping

      For lectures, a mind-map might be a more appropriate way of keeping track of the relationships between ideas. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of mind-mapping, but it might just fit the bill.

      Here’s the idea:

      In the center of a blank sheet of paper, you write the lecture’s main topic. As new sub-topics are introduced (the kind of thing you’d create a new heading for in an outline), you draw a branch outward from the center and write the sub-topic along the branch. Then each point under that heading gets its own, smaller branch off the main one. When another new sub-topic is mentioned, you draw a new main branch from the center. And so on.

      The thing is, if a point should go under the first heading but you’re on the fourth heading, you can easily just draw it in on the first branch. Likewise, if a point connects to two different ideas, you can connect it to two different branches.

      If you want to neaten things up later, you can re-draw the map or type it up using a program like FreeMind, a free mind-mapping program (some wikis even have plug-ins for FreeMind mind-maps, in case you’re using a wiki to keep track of your notes).

      You can learn more about mind-mapping here: How to Mind Map: Visualize Your Cluttered Thoughts in 3 Simple Steps

      3. The Cornell System

      The Cornell System is a simple but powerful system for increasing your recall and the usefulness of your notes.

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      About a quarter of the way from the bottom of a sheet of paper, draw a line across the width of the page. Draw another line from that line to the top, about 2 inches (5 cm) from the right-hand edge of the sheet.

      You’ve divided your page into three sections. In the largest section, you take notes normally — you can outline or mind-map or whatever. After the lecture, write a series of “cues” into the skinny column on the right, questions about the material you’ve just taken notes on. This will help you process the information from the lecture or reading, as well as providing a handy study tool when exams come along: simply cover the main section and try to answer the questions.

      In the bottom section, you write a short, 2-3 line summary in your own words of the material you’ve covered. Again, this helps you process the information by forcing you to use it in a new way; it also provides a useful reference when you’re trying to find something in your notes later.

      You can download instructions and templates from American Digest, though the beauty of the system is you can dash off a template “on the fly”.

      The Bottom Line

      I’m sure I’m only scratching the surface of the variety of techniques and strategies people have come up with to take good notes. Some people use highlighters or colored pens; others a baroque system of post-it notes.

      I’ve tried to keep it simple and general, but the bottom line is that your system has to reflect the way you think. The problem is, most haven’t given much thought to the way they think, leaving them scattered and at loose ends — and their notes reflect this.

      More About Note-Taking

      Featured photo credit: Kaleidico via unsplash.com

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