I think time management is harder these days because people have so many different sources of input. It used to be that everything came to us via the mail or by phone, but now we have content coming from multiple social media platforms, voice mail, messaging, texts, email, shared sites like Slack, etc. It is hard to keep track of it all.

I know there are apps out there like Evernote that serve as a collection point for the barrage, but there is still not a way to synthesize electronic and paper. I need a system for quickly finding what I read in a magazine that relates to something I saw on LinkedIn and ties in with a photo I took. I find myself with imperfect methods to do so, and, as a result, spend more time that I would like to retrieve all the inputs I am trying to integrate.

As a time management technique, it is hard to beat the trusty manila file folder that can instantly group together disparate sources of input and the invaluable spiral notebook that can serve as a repository for all the ideas swirling in my brain, but even these are lacking in their ability to be searched or easily shared. So we all move forward with methods that work for us, compensating for the deficiencies by what we gain in familiarity and the efficiencies that come from repeated use.

I think the lesson to be learned is to minimize the clutter of inputs in the first place. If you routinely don’t apply or share information from a magazine, perhaps you should consider canceling the subscription. If your social media feeds are filled with posts from people with whom you have no other contact, maybe a culling of your groups is in order. If you receive regular email feeds that you routinely delete, it may be worth the time to unsubscribe.

Even with all the productivity apps that are available and the advances in communication and technology, we still need to rely on our brain to connect the dots and make meaning of what comes in. Be wise about what (and how much) input that is.

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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