One of the core time management techniques something called single handling. I referred to it briefly in my post on the TRAF System, but I’m going to get a little more specific aboutit today.
One of the biggest time sinks with the modern worker is handling pieces of incoming information more than once. You pick up a piece of paper on your desk. Then you read it. Then you say “Oh yeah, I have to do this.” Then you set it aside.
Later, likely a few days later, you pick up that same piece of paper again, and read it again, and say, “Oh yeah, this. I really have to do this,” then put it aside again.
Then later, you pick it up, read it a third time, and say, “Oh yeah. This damn thing again. Man, I’ve really got to do this now,” and then you handle the item. You’ve handled the piece of paper three times.
I’m just using a piece of paper as an example. People do this with emails too. You know that you have several emails in your inbox right now that you’ve read, or at least glanced at, several times without taking action on them.
One of your time management goals is to handle incoming communications (paper or electronic) just ONE time. As soon as you start doing that, you’ll free up a surprising amount of time in your day, as well as some emotional energy.
This doesn’t mean as soon as you get a new email message or a new piece of paper dropped on your desk that you instantly stop what you’re doing and address it. This is also a horrible time management practice.
Instead, you only look at incoming items at particular times of the day; times you decide. When you do, you quickly glance (not read, glance) at each item, and using TRAF, either trash it, refer it, put it into an action file (or folder) for later, or file it.
When you decide it’s time to take action on items that are in your action file, you then address them one at a time, reading them and completing them before going to the next item.
Single handling is very powerful. Start practicing it and you’ll see the difference it makes.