Does Time-Management Software Save Time--Or Waste It?
Many software packages are available that claim to save us time. Choices
include scheduling software such as Outlook or Day-Timer, and contact
management software such as Act! or Goldmine. Or the popular Palm Pilot
handheld computer. But when I see how people use these products, I
sometimes wonder if it's worth the bother.
-----Importance of Having Realistic Expectations-----
Stephen Covey observed that many people seek a "Magic Tool" which they
hope will magically, effortlessly, get them organized. But in reality it's
not that simple: In addition to choosing the right tool and using it
properly, we must manage paper and phone calls, set priorities, deal with
crises, juggle multiple projects, and plan for the future. Many people have
a To-Do list dozens of items long, including tasks that have been waiting
for months. Is such a list more effective just because it's "in the
computer"? Obviously, no.
------Choose Carefully, Then Learn to Use It---------
Don't get me wrong--I'm no Luddite. I love computers. Yet in my
practice, I see that few people seem to get the full benefit of ACT!,
Outlook, the PalmPilot, or whatever they're using. For some users, these
products even waste as much time as they save--although the victim is too
close to the situation to see it. Perhaps they never really learned to use
it, so they're only using a fraction of its potential. Or they're using the
wrong software for their needs. Many people even use two or three software
packages that do basically the same thing; then the time wasted switching
back and forth (not to mention the confusion that results!) outweighs any
------The Importance of Looking Ahead-------
Sucessful people know the importance of doing one step towards their
long-terms goals, every single day. To manage your time effectively, you
must always keep the big picture in mind. One drawback with the small
handheld organizers is that the calendar only shows you one day at a time.
This encourages people to focus on daily minutae and lose sight of the big
picture. Most of us have this 'blinders on" tendency anyhow -- and it's not
helpful to use a planning tool that makes it even worse!
--------It's Still Up To You---------
Truth is, calling such software or handheld computers "organizers" is a
misnomer. They're really just places to store information. In themselves,
they do not organize anything. WE do--through a comprehensive system of
time, paper, task, and information management.
©2002 Jan Jasper
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