E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

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4 Ways to Use Your Time More Effectively and The Power of Saying “No!”

As I have already mentioned yesterday, I am now done with the massive catch up with my RSS feeds from the time I have been on vacation and I must say that there have been some really good conversations going on in multiple subjects regarding KM, Collaboration and Communities, amongst others. So I thought that, as I go along, I will share some of the ones that I have found more interesting and worth while commenting further on. Like, for instance, a recent weblog post that Shawn Callahan shared over at Anecdote around the topic of time management: 4 Ways to Use Your Time More Effectively, and which I felt very identified with when I first read it, by the way.

Yes, indeed, time management in the current business environment is perhaps one of the main items that people need to master in order to get the most out of the whole thing. I can certainly agree that there are plenty, perhaps, too many, interruptions and lots of distractions out there and, whether we like it or not, we keep getting bombarded with information that we need to process as soon as possible in order to move on further. That is how things are. Shawn actually puts it quite nicely detailing the top 7 reasons why there is such a lack of time and instead of just quoting them over here I am just going to mention the four different suggestions he put together as well to help fight those 7 reasons:

"1. Learn a task management method like Getting Things Done. I’d recommend getting David Allen’s book of the same name and put it into practice. Better still, get your organisation to invest in a GTD training program (addresses issues 1 and 3).
2. Understand your priorities and work out how your work fits in to the big picture. If it doesn’t fit in to either the big picture or your priorities then say ‘no’ (issue 2)
3. Get into a community of practice and learn how to work smarter from your peers and with your peers that already do it. Rather than try and keep up with all the changes in your discipline, share the workload. Social book-marking is one possible tool (issues 4 & 7)
4. Periodically close down the communication channels. Turn off the mobile, Skype, email and then find a cafe where you can work anonymously. You’ll be amazed at how much work you’ll get done (issues 5 & 6)."

Apart from using a task management tool that integrates quite nicely with my workflow, using GTD for Lotus Notes developed by one of my fellow IBM colleagues Brett Philp; apart from belonging to a number of different communities of practice covering a wide range of topics related to KM, Collaboration, Community Building and Social Software, etc. so that I can become smarter at what I do, without not necessarily having to work harder; and apart from switching temporarily some of the noise out there (One of the main items that has helped me do a full catch up with my RSS feeds over the last couple of days) I think that the main suggestion I could provide that has worked really well with me to help manage my time better is the ability to say "No!" and feel good about it ! Yes, you read it right: the ability to say "No!" and not feel guilty that I may have let down some of my colleagues and friends in the process.

I must confess that this is something that, to me, requires a whole lot of effort and training, because initially, I found out, through the course of a number of years, that it is not always easy to turn around, say "No!" and walk away. Just like that! It takes a bit of guts to do that and feel all right about it at the same time. But in the end perseverance is what would get you there, I am sure. That, or rather having to suffer from that stressful situation of not finding the time to do all of those different tasks that people have gently dumped on to yourself. Yes, I know, a tough call.

Over time this is something that you get to learn some more about. You get to learn that it is all right not to be involved in every single thing, trying to grasp everything, getting engaged in every single activity that you feel would be nice to be part of. One way or another, I have learned, over time, that if there is something out there that would really interest me and should get my attention I would eventually be bumping into it repeatedly and giving in to it in the end, not because it is coming to me from a single front, but from several of them. So although my initial reaction may be that one of saying "No!" sooner rather later I always get to find out if I would need to reconsider and do it: other people talking to me about it, me finding that task would apply quite nicely to something I am doing at that moment, me being able to establish some new and meaningful relationships and so forth. Yes, understanding those priorities that Shawn mentioned in the original weblog entry.

Yes, I am sure that has happened to you as well in the past. Those tasks will eventually come back to you, if there would be a need for it. Believe me, they will come back. So my best suggestion regarding the time management that Shawn just got started is to basically learn (And learn quick!) to say "No!" and feel good about it, because there is a great chance that if it was really worth while for you to engage further in that task you would eventually be coming around to it. It happens all the time, as I have already mentioned here in the past a couple of times, because after all, "We create our own distractions and just need to learn to manage them". Effectively.

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