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Bon Journal

Time management seminar

Dust collects. So does clutter. So does everything you said you wanted to do but haven't yet done. It accumulates until you can't bear it any longer.

Such is the promise to myself that I would write a review of the one day time management seminar I took from Mark Forster, one of UK's top life coaches and author of the best-selling book "Getting everything done and still have time to play."

That was in early May 2005.

Three months later, I've reprioritised. I simply can't start my new CD, marketing brochure, novel, nonfiction book, or go on another holiday ---- unless I revisit time management.

I chose a flight that gave me plenty of slack to get from London Gatwick Airport to Horsham in West Sussex. I even got ahead of myself at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport with British Airways' online pre-check-in. That long-anticipated slack was wiped out by the late arrival of the airplane and the unforeseen congestion in London. After much huffing and puffing, I wheeled my blue suitcase into the classroom at exactly 2 pm.

I wasn't late, but it was a close call. Lesson number one: even with plenty of slack planned into your schedule, you might still be overthrown by the forces of nature and other events out of your control.

The other eleven classmates were already seated and ready to absorb Mark's words of wisdom. I was skeptical. What could I possibly learn in three hours? That I flew from Amsterdam for this three-hour course was an obvious sign of my desperation. After devouring countless self-help books on time management, attending courses in time management, and discussing time management with the passion of intellectuals, I was still an outsider.

Mark Forster took his time to explain the gems that lay at the core of time management. It's about how you organise your time, he said. How do you decide what you need to do each day? How do you decide what to leave for tomorrow?

I expected Mark Forster to talk about keeping a "to do" list. After all, most people keep to-do lists. Surely it's the simplest way to organise time. Mine is spread over different scraps of paper, notebooks, and diaries. I even keep mental to-do lists. While it's a joy to strike the done things from my lists, I am forever trying to keep track of these lists. My method is clearly suboptimal ---- managing lists instead of time.

In the ensuing three hours, I learned that the way I've been responding to e-mails and phone calls encourages me to mismanage my time. Lesson number two: don't treat all your requests as urgent. The faster you respond, the faster they come.

What I got most out of the 3rd of May 2005 course was lesson number three: get the fundamental way you decide on matters that require attention right from the beginning. To do so, however, requires a little discipline.

I suspect that people who have problems making decisions also have issues with time management. The two are closely related. With this in mind, I invited Mark Forster to write a piece on how to implement your decisions, for he has coached people on this very exact topic. The article appears in a special issue of Le Bon Journal, Guide to Making Better Decisions in October 2005.

Mark Forster has kindly offered to help me keep the Bon Journal alive, free, and independent by contributing a piece of his wisdom. To support the Bon Journal, register and attend Mark Forster's Time Management Seminar and get a free copy of "Bon Journal Guide to Making Better Decisions." Be sure to mention the Bon Journal when you register.

5 August 2005 Friday

Related links:
Mark Forster
Getting everything done and still have time to play - book review
Notes from time management -
another course
Slack for the unexpected
Racing against time
Just in time, not on time
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Anne Ku at Ilp in May 2001
Anne Ku

writes about her travels, conversations, thoughts, events, music, and anything else that is interesting enough to fill a web page.
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