Personal Management Goals And components. It is especially crucial for freelancers, knowledge workers, and executives. In other words, everyone who does not have a manager has to have some system to plan their work.
This system should serve a few important goals:
- Optimise scheduling and time management to make the most out of available time
- Optimise prioritisation and timing to make the most out of the peak performance hours
- Create feedback loops for continuous improvement
- Provide perspective of long-term goals for a short-term planning
- Provide accountability
Below we will list techniques and systems to achieve such goals and a possible way to tie them all together.
By prioritising tasks, you decide if a particular problem should be dealt with now or later. The Eisenhower matrix can assist with such tasks. The four squares in the matrix determine urgency and importance. Therefore, all items are split into categories: urgent and important, urgent and unimportant, important and not urgent, unimportant and not urgent. The optimal decision for each task would be:
- Important and urgent – do right away
- Important but not urgent – schedule
- Unimportant but urgent – delegate as much as possible
- Unimportant and not urgent – delete
It is, of course, an idealisation, but it is worth striving for. But it is not always clear whether a task is urgent or not, so we suggest a more detailed approach. Instead of using “urgent – not urgent” coordinates, draw the actual timeline on your matrix. Put a semi-arbitrary separation in three days or a week. It will provide better visualisation while keeping the simplicity of the Eisenhower method.
A Planning System
A planning system governs the flow of information. It ensures nothing gets lost, and all events make it to the calendar. It can be both digital and analogue, depending on the type of work and the amount of collaboration one needs to do. In both cases, such a system should capture the incoming information. It also can sort it out between a planner and a notebook for long-term storage. The system should provide a top-down structure for different periods, all in an easy-to-access, concise way.Also Read Personal Management Goals And components
An inbox captures all the incoming information: new tasks, ideas, receipts, business cards – everything. It has to be a single place, either a physical notebook, a drawer, a folder, or a file. At the end of every day, you will sort everything in the inbox that the week ahead may require. At the end of every week, you will try to empty it, working through ideas and random stuff that somehow got in there. The inbox has to be with you at all times, which makes it the perfect place for daily to-do lists or plans.
Top-down planning system
Here all the planning resides. There is a proven algorithm that lets you align daily plans with long-term goals and high-order values. It consists of several steps:
- Write down your top priorities and long-term goals
- Make a vague long-term plan, three to five years, that aligns with said priorities
- Write a more detailed year-long plan for these goals
- Come up with quarterly milestones
- Split the first (or the upcoming) quarter into monthly goals
- Break up the next month into weeks
- Plan the week ahead
- Plan your day
Now everything that’s left is to plan every period (day, week, month, quarter, year) according to the pre-existing plan. It aligns values and goals over the long term. Moreover, there is no need to keep the big picture in your head. Although, re-reading the first page with long-term goals and values gives a much-needed motivation boost.
Review sessions are a key to a good planning routine. They let you evaluate the pitfalls and successes, sort the inbox and create a plan for the upcoming days. There are many templates and checklists online, so find the one that suits you. It is important to stick to the same routine for a while to gain insight into the way your systems operate.
The best thing one could do is to outsource mundane tasks, especially ones that fall into the “urgent, not critical” category. Many people choose to hire a personal assistant to help them deal with scheduling, arrangements, and phone calls. Remember, it does not have to be a full-time secretary. Virtually anyone could hire an assistant online to deal with their inbox items, calendar, and other chores for half an hour every week.
If you are technically fluent, consider automating repetitive tasks. Most calendar and note-taking apps offer extensive APIs that anyone can use. There are even no-code solutions, but they often offer paid plans.
People, who are good at organizing their work, typically make it their job to help others with this. It can be a good side gig or even a full-time job, depending on the volume of work. If you are interested, try looking for vacancies of remote personal assistants online (link).
Be aware of the “software creep”. Various productivity apps use aggressive marketing, competing for users and their money. Many people chase the next shiny thing and try to take advantage of the new features, moving from one app to another.
But the cost of transitioning to a different app is high, both in time and resources. And there are barely any features that could justify such expenses. It is far more critical to stay consistent and keep all data in one place, ensuring continuous improvement.
Countless people lost their data to password leaks, hard drive failures, and other unfortunate incidents. Make sure to back up your data regularly and automate the process if possible. Once a year, put all the necessary work files (and everything you might want to keep, like photos) on an external drive.