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Time management - Reminders


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Once you are comfortable with dealing with every task that comes your way you will have a place for everything.
Already you will have actioned simple tasks that you can carry out within about 5 minutes, disposed of others and filed the rest.

See elsewhere, ‘information flow sheet’.

It’s the rest that can be rather tricky to get to grips with.
How do you make sure that those ‘filed’ tasks get your attention at the appropriate time?

You must build ‘reminders’ into your system that allow you to monitor the progress of each task. That will give you control.

There are several areas requiring control.

  • Those tasks already filed in ‘delegated tasks’, ‘delayed tasks’ and ‘projects’ (requiring more than one step).
  • Today’s tasks.
  • Others that must be done as soon as possible that you don’t really want to ‘delay’ or ‘delegate’.

Delegated tasks

These are someone else’s responsibility but your accountability.
You must know the status of each delegated task on a regular basis.
There are several ways of doing this.

Day files

These are discussed in more detail elsewhere, see ‘day files’.
The use of ‘day files’ relies on filing reminders to delegated tasks on a particular day. If you wish to know progress of task ‘A’ On the 21st of the month you would put a reminder note in that ‘day file’. Depending on the nature of the task this file will contain all of the information supporting this or it may not. If there is a lot of supporting information this may be filed in a suitable ‘reference’ section or ‘project’ section.
In general, just put the reminder in the ‘day file’ and not any supporting information. Add a note as to the location of the supporting information.

All you need to do now is call someone to ascertain progress or arrange a meeting if you have not already done so.

Specific meeting agenda

The subject of the delegated task may require a regular meeting with an individual. Set this up and draw up an agenda to discuss the task progress.

If a regular meeting exists elsewhere covering this task you may need to attend or better still send another to find out progress. The latter would only apply if you had delegated the task to another department with no particular individual involved.
Although, even in this case there should be a contact point to ask about progress to save attending the meeting.

Team meeting agenda

If you are lucky enough to have a team and you delegated the task (amongst others) to a team member you should call a regular meeting to discuss particular issues, one of which will be the progress of specific delegated tasks.

Delayed tasks

These come in 2 forms.

  • Items requiring ‘no action’ that may be of use in the future for current activities or possible useful new ideas. For example reading material.
  • Those tasks that can not be done quickly and are either delayed until another day or form a list of items to be completed as soon as possible.

We can make sure we control these by:

Day files

These are discussed in more detail elsewhere, see ‘day files’.
These will be more suited to the latter scenario, where you have actively delayed completion to another day.

The use of ‘day files’ relies on filing reminders to delayed tasks on a particular day.
When you check the content of your day file it will contain the task that you have delayed.

Again, the file will contain the task or reminder with the supporting information filed elsewhere.
In theory, you will know where you have filed this supporting information but it doesn’t hurt to add a quick note to the reminder in the ‘day file’ indicating where the supporting information is filed.

As soon as possible

These items don’t usually have a specific deadline attached to them and could be anything both personal and professional, for example, they tend to be non urgent items that you can do when you have time.
They are often ideas and thoughts that come to you that need action.

‘Must get more paper clips.’
‘Run out of dog food.’
‘Chat to a colleague about a particular idea’.

As we have said before the decision process for tackling tasks can be helped by consideration of the acronym PATH.
See elsewhere, ‘decision PATH’.

Priority How urgent is it?
Activity What equipment and facilities are needed to do the task?
Time What time constraints do you have?
Health How much personal energy do you have?

Probably, the most relevant is the type of activity. This will tend to affect what equipment, environment and facilities you need.

For example.

Telephone calls.
You will need a telephone. If it is a very private call you will need a secure environment. If you are in a traffic jam, or out of the office or home you could use a mobile phone etc.

Computer based.
If you have emails to send, on-line work to do or data bases to update these can all be done when you have access to a computer.

Because of this it is a good idea to combine these ‘as soon as possible’ tasks into common files so that you can do a number of tasks easily when the appropriate equipment is available.

You might find it useful to create lists of these tasks in common folders which you can pick up at a moments notice to carry out all tasks of a similar type.
For example.

  • Telephone calls.
  • Computer based.
  • At the airport.
  • At the shops.
  • In a hotel etc.

You can make up folders that suit your own office activities and personal lives.
In its simplest form you may only need 3 files.

  • Office.
  • Home.
  • Elsewhere.

When you think of something that you have to do or you have a good idea capture it immediately on your list, in your ‘as soon as possible’ folders, or on a Dictaphone for later processing.


These are the multi-step tasks.

These are best controlled via ‘day files’ as for ‘delayed tasks’.


Reminders you set to tackle tasks (where ever these may be) should not be set at deadline dates.
Really, reminders are ‘triggers’ to begin the task in plenty of time to meet the deadline date.

When filing in ‘day files’ make allowance for completion by a deadline and allow for unforeseen occurrences.

If you find that you are generating very few ‘triggers’ then just keep them on a paper list and keep it to hand.


The calendar diary is excellent for noting many reminders, appointments, meeting dates etc.
This should coincide with your ‘day file’ for maximum effect.

Where meetings require travel and a commitment of money you may wish to leave their organisation till the last possible moment as you never know if you may have to cancel.

You will need to leave some space in your diary for ‘urgent’ and ‘important’ tasks that are bound to appear. Over management of your diary can lead to stress through failure to achieve all the tasks.
The diary can be used for all sorts of additional things, for example.

  • Telephone numbers, addresses, maps.
  • Useful numbers and anniversary and birthday dates.
  • Packing details for when going away.
  • List of journals and books to read etc.

Basically, anything that you feel may be useful for your daily activities.

If you keep a paper diary you run the risk of losing it. Think carefully about how you handle it.
Don’t put it down anywhere, keep it on your person.
Perhaps photocopy some pages or keep some data on a computer.
You could use an electronic diary but you will need to review these for ease of use and features. These would be much easier to back up to computers.

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