How to Use the 2 Column Method to Restore Focus to Your Day

By , The Time Finder Expert, Founder of Finding Time

Solo-E Certified Solo Entrepreneur Expert

Paula Eder - The Time Finder Expert, Founder of Finding Time

Time management tips become even more rewarding as you go beyond basic schedules and to do lists. The 2 Column Method for Planning & Review is an ideal approach to fine-tune these tools, increase your productivity and decrease feelings of frustration and overwhelm.

You can adapt the 2 Column Method to almost any time management tools you use. Column #1 is where you plan out your schedule. In Column #2, you document how your day actually goes.

I recommend filling out Column #1 the night before. The following day, fill out Column #2 as you go along. Note any variations from your initial plan. Over time, you learn to make your advance scheduling increasingly realistic.

For example, “6 A.M., Get Up” may go in the first column as you sketch out your upcoming day. If that’s when you actually get started the following morning, write “Done” in Column #2. If, however, you get up 15 minutes later than that, record “6:15” in your second column. If you plan to exercise for 20 minutes whenever you can fit it in, write, “Exercise, 20 minutes” in the first column. The number of minutes you end up exercising goes in the second column.

One of the key things to keep in mind when using the 2 Column Method is to use it for rewarding productivity – not for self-criticism! Over time, you will begin to clearly see your patterns. Are there goals that you consistently don’t meet? Maybe you need to move them to another time of day, or consider modifying them in some other way.

The 2 Column Method gives you excellent information about your time baseline, as well as daily opportunities to adjust your planning and find more time! But it does far more than that. Here are 3 significant extra benefits:

  1. Peace of Mind. If you tend to feel you “should” be working at chores when you exercise and feel you “should” be exercising when doing your chores, simply refer to your Column #1. Stay on schedule, and validate yourself for following through. You’ll find the day flows much more smoothly as you banish second-guessing.
  2. Eliminating Loose Ends. The more consistently you use the 2 Column Method, the more accurately you can estimate how long each task will take. Then you gain assurance that everything important will get accomplished. No more trying to keep everything in your head, or constantly wondering why your day ends before your list does!
  3. Positive Control. If you find it difficult to disengage from certain activities, the 2 Column Method provides extra incentive. Switching gears as you’d intended allows you to remain in sync with your itinerary. The more you follow through with your intentions, the more you identify with your reliability. Ultimately, your self-trust enhances your self-esteem and confidence. Your credibility rises with others, as well, which strengthens relationships.

Consider keeping old lists in a folder for future reference. Not only will you have useful data for upcoming scheduling; you can also measure your progress over time! The 2 Column Method can become a welcome companion, allowing you to enjoy the moment without losing the momentum.

Now, what is your next move to make every day both effective and enjoyable?

Paula Eder, PhD is an internationally-known coach and published author who specializes in mentoring heart-based entrepreneurs and small business owners, from the inside out, to align their core values and energy with their time choices and behaviors so that they make more money, create more freedom, and find more time.  To learn more about Paula’s unique, Heart-Based Time Management™ System and begin your transformational journey, sign up for her Finding Time Success Kit. Discover how you can find time for what matters most.

© Copyright 2009 Paula Eder, Ph.D.

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