There is a big difference between knowing what to do and actually doing it. It is easy to waste spend a lot time learning how to use it efficiently. There are dozens of time management systems out there. The one thing that they all have in common is a need of consistency. In order for a time management system to improve your life, you must consistently use it. In other words, you must build habits. David Allen recommends building a trusted system that functions as a repository for all of your unfinished tasks. Consistency is the key to building that trust.
It isn’t so easy to build habits. It is said that a simple task takes as many as 30 to 40 repetitions before it becomes a habit. Obviously this depends on the task. The key is to focus on a single habit that will lend itself to establishing more habits. For example, if you are accustomed to checking your email every morning then you can email yourself reminders to do other things. You might send yourself a daily email reminding yourself to clear your task system inbox. Eventually clearing your inbox will be like second nature.
Typically we form habits to help us accomplish some type of goal. Sometimes it helps to be reminded of the purpose. We can do this by tracking the result of our efforts. If you decide to go to the gym every day, it might help to keep track of that on a daily basis. You might also document other related data such as your weight. One method of keeping this type of information is with Google Forms. From within Google Drive you can create a form asking yourself for the information that you want to track. The results of the form are stored in a spreadsheet. Each time you fill it out a new row is added.
The next step is to remind yourself to fill out the form. Another Google product can help us solve this issue. Create a recurring event in Google Calendar with a link to the live form in the description. Be sure to add an email reminder. You will now receive an email as frequently as you choose with a link to your online form. Since the results are stored in a spreadsheet you will be able to evaluate them as often as you want.
Establishing a habit is one thing, sticking to it is another. After doing the same thing over and over again it is easy to take the results for granted. Let’s assume that you established the habit of going to the gym. To evaluate the results you tracked your weight on a daily basis. Let’s speculate that eventually your weight plateaued to a number that you were happy with. After a while without seeing any change it might become easier to break your routine.
Anyone who has gone on a diet or began a workout routine knows how easy it is to fall off the wagon. The human brain is the master of believable rationalizations. Despite logic, we can convince ourselves that skipping a workout and eating a chocolate bar is the best course of action. To lessen the chances of giving in to these types of temptations make yourself accountable to someone else. Google documents can be shared in a variety of different ways. Preferably the person you share your results with is not averse to handing out public ridicule. That chocolate will not taste as sweet when served with humble pie.