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Squeezing the Most Out of Your Day

It has been quite some time since my last blog post, mostly due to other extra-curricular projects I have going at the moment. It is difficult to find time to write blog posts when family commitments, work, writing a novel for pre-teens, practicing my Akai EWI and resuming an exercise routine I had laid fallow for about half a year, all seem to get in the way.

Here's an interesting link to a website that describes how 25 famous people, such as Stephen King, Charles Darwin and Winston Churchill scheduled their day. The thing that strikes me about most of the daily routines described is that these people behaved as if the world revolved around them. Most of them even had a scheduled socializing hour - those friends who could not abide by it be damned!

I find that one of the most important skills in my job as a Technical Writer is to manage my time properly. On any given day I could find myself working on anything from proofing 300 page hardware specifications through to creating PowerPoint slides, drawing figures in Visio, teaching English grammar, coding VBA for my Access database, attending meetings and writing or editing any number of a wide range of documents. Fitting all of that into a work day is not easy. Short of stopping time so I can get more done (to stop time, do this), here are some ways I manage the ocean of work and its unpredictable nature:
  • I rely extensively on my self-made document and task tracking database to tell me what I need to do and by when it needs to be done
  • I schedule appointments with myself to work on specific tasks (and stick to it)
  • I speak to the document owners to find out what the real urgency of the work is, especially when the email arrives stamped with that obnoxious red exclamation point
  • I skim each document as it arrives in my inbox so that I can provide a realistic delivery date
  • I do everything in my power to stick to the delivery date
  • I have learned that it is acceptable to say "no" to certain requests (if they are unreasonable)
  • When I sit with customers to review their documents, I make sure to end the meeting at the scheduled time, even if the doc isn't finished (assuming no real urgency), and even if I don't have another appointment scheduled afterward
  • I am prepared to alter my schedule if the need arises
  • I often ignore my own advice and do more than one task at a time
  • I make sure to never miss lunch, which is scheduled in my calendar for 12:00 every day
What are some of your time and task management tricks?

Comments are most welcome!
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