Taming of the clock

Jan. 16, 2006
Take a look at these web resources on scheduling and time management and get organized.

Are you down in the dumps, suffering from an abject case of time poverty? Does it seem like you're always getting flogged for something you didn't do? Are you working faster but getting behinder? Is that what's bothering you, bunky? Well, there is now something you can do about this cruel outcome.
This month, we chronicle another journey into the morass we call the Web in search of free, non-commercial, registration-free resources that gives you, the user, solid information about getting ahead of schedule and staying there. One caveat: If you really are so short of time, you probably shouldn't be wasting your time reading this column.

Back to basics
College is the fountain of knowledge, and everyone goes there to drink...or, so goes the old saw. Nevertheless, it's was supposed to be during one's college years that we were expected to get a grip on reality and prepare ourselves for a lucrative lifetime career as an overworked, underappreciated, underpaid wage slave. That's why time management is a skill that students could do well to acquire. If you didn't so it then, now might be the ideal time to learn the time skills relevant to a simpler time, and build from there. The kind folks at the Counseling and Development Centre at York University in Toronto offer tips and ideas about the fine art of clock taming in a document titled Time Management for University Students. It's available in two formats--HTML and PDF. Reading the former option is a click-intensive effort with typical load times. We are, after all, trying to get control of our time. That is why I advise using the PDF choice. Doing so will give you a 23-page document to cherish for all time. Visit www.yorku.ca/cdc/lsp/tm/time.htm for your very own copy.

If you know college students who are having trouble getting with the expectations, you might suggest they also follow the link to Return to Learning Skills Program Homepage at the bottom of the page. That will take them to even more material covering reading, note taking, exam tips and tips for reducing stress.

If you go to www.webshops.uoguelph.ca/learningtime/, you will find Learning Time, a compendium of information, strategies, suggestions and advice to resolve time management issues commonly faced by experienced university students. This site is brought to you by the good folks at the Learning Commons at the University of Guelph, Ontario.

"Links to a Better Education" is a Web page that goes with a chemistry class taught by Bob Jacobs at Wilton High School, Wilton, Conn. Go to http://www.chemistrycoach.com/lbe4.htm and click on the phrase "Time Management" to access a series of links to time management ideas from various institutions of higher learning around the country. Without a doubt, there is a lot of duplication in the content, but it's another free resource. And what do you expect for free?

Procrastination is now passe
If you still haven't gotten started on this temporal renewal of your lifestyle, the folks at the University of California, Berkeley can fire you up. They provide two concise pieces about getting to the career success that lies just beyond Procrastination Mountain. The Seven Day Procrastination Plan is found at http://students.berkeley.edu/slc/CalRen/procrastination.html and Techniques To Manage Procrastination is at http://students.berkeley.edu/slc/CalRen/procrastechniques.html. Now you have another tool. Use it.

Life in the big leagues
There is a Web page that gives down-and-dirty ways executives can tame the beast, with ideas such as keeping track of what you do during the day, avoiding getting trapped doing the work of subordinates, scheduling appointments and projects, and monitoring the activities of your staff. Personal Time Management for Busy Managers is the work of Dr Gerard M Blair, former Senior Lecturer in the Department of Electrical Engineering at the University of Edinburgh, now with Hewlett-Packard in Fort Collins, Colo. This document can be found at www.ee.ed.ac.uk/~gerard/Management/art2.html.

Following closely on the heals of the good Dr. Blair are the folks at Mind Tools Ltd. in Horsham, West Sussex. The company's document, How to get the most out of your time, is a richly interlinked work with much in the way of genuine no-cost, registration-free content. I must warn you, however, of one drawback. Although each page of the document has content, the bulk of the lower half of each page is devoted to the advertising of books related to time management. If you avoid reading down the page too far, you'll be okay. Check out the content at www.mindtools.com/page5.html.

Be a paragon of productivity
Getting your schedule under control is only one remedy for that terrible feeling that you are behind. If you are going to make any forward progress once you tame the time monster, you'll need to be productive. Otherwise, you will have gone through a great effort and merely end up with a lot of free time on your hands. So, get off your duff and become productive using some of the principles espoused by David Allen, a management consultant, productivity coach and educator. His Web site is at http://www.davidco.com/. The two best places to click when you get there are "Gear, Tips & Tools" and "Food For Thought." You can learn some shortcut keystrokes for Mr. Bill's ubiquitous software menagerie, how to organize your workspace, how to deal with lists and much more.

It's doubtful that any of you out there in readerland spend every minute of the day at the plant or office. Come on, admit it. Sooner or later you do go home, don't you? Well, you should know that domestic tranquility can be enhanced using similar principles of organization and productivity. I present for your approval a site called organizedhome.com, which is a property of threadneedle press. If you visit http://www.householdnotebook.com/index.shtml, you will find information on organizing, decluttering, simplifying and cleaning the domicile. The method is based on a notebook that becomes the central repository of all organized things domestic. The site even offers appropriate printable pages so you won't need to buy some special binder and paper to get started. With work and home now firmly under control, life should get much easier.

A neat workspace
How can you be productive when piles of paper and other accoutrements of paragonic productivity surround you? You gotta get organized, my friend, and Nita Jackson, Havre, Mont. has a site dedicated to getting you into that cosmic state of being. Most of the material she posts relates to organizing a houseshold, but there is one gem that finds relevance in the bigger world of science and industry. Nita shows you how to attack desk clutter at http://www.organizetips.com/office.htm. Although it is not readily apparent, this is a two-page document. Hot tip: Get to the second page by clicking in the extreme lower right corner of the first page.

Flying hands?
If my palms can't fly, why do they need a pilot? Because it will help you tame the heartless beast called time, that's why. As handy as those little gizmos are, they still need to be fed a dose of software. In this case, we are talking time management software. That is why you should direct you attention to PalmPilotArchives, a Web site at http://home.palmpilotarchives.com/time_management_.html, where you will find shareware for that little pocket aviator. The entries on this site include the file name and size, a screen capture and a brief description of the package. If you go here, remember that any shareware you discover is not freeware. The programmer who produced the package should be compensated for the time invested in making your time problems vanish.

Free downloads
This is the computer age, after all. It seems that these days, we need some sort of a computerized gizmo just to blow our noses. Everything has gone digital. That might as well apply to your efforts in taming the old time monster. One Web site, DownLoad32.com, found at www.download32.com/windows/InformationManagement.htm offers free downloads, and plenty of them. For example, in the section on information management, you will find the following software riches:

  • Contact management (154 programs)
  • Database programs (138)
  • Databases (336)
  • Diary (41)
  • Personal information managers (290)
  • Misc. information management (123)
  • Note management (138)
  • Reminders 259)
  • Scheduling (169)

It would be surprising if you were unable to get organized and in control of your time with this material. There is some degree of overlap because some programs conceivably fit into multiple categories. While you are there, take some time to investigate the other downloads that have no relevance to the topic of this column.

William Logan in Reno, Nev., hosts a Web site, William's Freeware Index, that features only free software. If you can download it and use it indefinitely for a total cost of zero, then Logan will include it in his site. In keeping with the theme of this month's column, Logan was kind enough to list calendar and scheduling software. If you click your way over to http://www.williamlogan.org/FreewareIndex/CalendarsScheduling.html, you will face an eight-page listing of relevant software. Enjoy. And tell 'em Russ sent you.

By far, the best download site that came up in the research for this column is Freeware Home, found, curiously enough, at http://www.freewarehome.com/. Click on "Date and Time Management" in the left frame. What shows up in right frame is access to more software than you can shake a clock at. While you are there, scroll down the left frame to examine the other 140-plus options.

Better than relativity?
One of the odd implications of Einstein's Theory of Relativity is that the rate of passage of time is not immutable. The faster you go, the slower time passes--at least from the perspective of a stationary observer. Maybe extreme productivity and the speed it confers on us is, in fact, counterproductive. But I digress.

Consider for a moment the Loffler Design Group, Inc. of Miami, Fla. These folks came up with the idea of OmniTime, a restructuring of the concept of time we know and love. Do any of the following descriptions apply to your organization?

  • Growing companies that need to add shifts.
  • International corporations.
  • Sales offices dealing internationally.
  • Temporary team projects involving people in different time zones.

If so, LDG claims you can benefit from adopting this rather odd way of reckoning the passing of the seconds. You simply must read about it for yourself. Go to http://www.omnitime.com/ and click on "What is it?" Before you leave this site, click on "Worldtime" for something you can really use.

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