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How to get organized and improve your personal development program’s effectiveness March 21, 2007

Posted by Dennis Mellersh in Get Organized.
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Our personal growth plans can become more achievable if we learn how to organize our time and develop an effective program of personal time management

Years ago, in a personal development effort to get organized in various areas of my life one of the books I found helpful was How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life, written by time-management expert, Alan Lakein.

Lakein asks at the beginning of his book why should we care about our time. His answer is, “Time is life. It is irreversible and irreplaceable. To waste your time is to waste your life, but to master your time is to master your life and make the most of it.” In some ways that advice is pivotal to developing a personal growth program that works. Without some form of organization, our self-improvement efforts and plans can remain just good intentions rather than achieved goals.

However, Lakein does not consider that effective time management means that you have to give up activities that you enjoy and just work harder and harder to get organized. In fact, he notes, “…please don’t call me an efficiency expert. I’m an ‘effectiveness expert.’ Effectiveness means selecting the best task to do from all the possibilities available and then doing it the best way. Making the right choices about how you’ll use your time is much more important than doing efficiently whatever job happens to be around.”

One of the aspects I found most helpful about Alan Lakein’s approach is his emphasis on setting priorities. As part of this emphasis, for example, he devotes an entire chapter to “Tasks Better Left Undone.” He divides tasks into A, B, and C, priorities. The A’s are items that have a high value, the B’s are those tasks that have a medium value and the C’s are those with low value. In prioritizing, Lakein emphasizes the use of the 80/20 rule, and uses an number of examples to illustrate the rule, such as the fact that 80 percent of file usage is in 20 percent of the files.

To give you an idea of his approach, here are some of the chapter titles:
Control Starts With Planning
What Do You Really Want from Life?
How to Find Time You Never Knew You Had
Don’t Let Fear Get in Your Way
How to Create Quiet Time for Yourself
Using the Swiss Cheese Method
Sometimes It Pays to Slow Down.

Overall, Lakein’s approach in this book provides a good rationale or philosophy towards personal time management and how to get organized in what you want to accomplish. It’s much more than page after page of time-organizational tips. It’s a holistic approach to managing your life through a time-oriented approach to personal development. As the title implies, Lakein sees building time management skills as an integral part of developing life management skills.

The Signet Book copies I have were published some time ago by New American Library. You could check for it in your local library, as well as new and used bookstores. It is also available used and new on Amazon.com.