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Continuous Reflection *Before* Time Management

I recently reflected on my daily breakfast, and noticed that I didn’t really enjoy it. Swallowing two slices of bread, and one glass of juice, was just my way of getting through the morning without fainting. So I made a note to find myself more enjoyable things to eat.

I also recently reflected on how I make illustrations. And I realized that I sometimes develop a pain in my neck after drawing for an hour or more. So I made a note to purchase an easel.

And I reflected on how I use various tools, like Word, Gmail, TypePad, Dropbox, and Remember the Milk. And I realized that I know only a small percentage of what such tools have to offer. So I made a note to flip through their manuals and help pages.

There are many time management techniques available for people who want to get more done in less time. But I have a feeling that most of them skip an important question:

Is what you’re doing the right thing?

What if time management techniques teach you to run faster in a wrong direction? What if they teach you to be more focused, and more productive, while working behind your desk? Maybe what you really need, before anything else, is an easel!

Last week I started my own Individual Improvement Initiative. (I’m shortening it to I3, with a capital I, so I won’t get into trouble with Apple.) Its first step is:

Follow (almost) every action with a reflection.

I now consciously reflect on the phone calls and meetings that I have. (Are they worth having?) I reflect on traveling and conferences. (Am I getting the best out of that time?) I reflect on my bookkeeping. (Can I do that in less time?) And I reflect on my speaking engagements. (Can I do them better?)

Each action ends in a reflection. It is the atomic version of a continuous improvement cycle. Act, Reflect, Act, Reflect, Act, Reflect… I suggest that, somehow, you work such continuous reflections into your daily busy schedule before adopting a time management technique that will make you go faster!

And now it is time for me to reflect on this blog post. (Because, I might be able to do better than this.)

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