Dec 29, 2011

The Project Begins

I have started on my 6 PM Project and I wanted to tell you about the first few steps that I am taking.

Firstly, I am aiming not merely for a Clean Desk, but for an Almost Bare Desk. No piece of paper shall be on my desk, unless it actually requires me to take some specific action on it. Once the action is taken, the document must be thrown away or filed away.

Next, I am tidying up my hard disk. I am setting some new rules to create a more rational system for organising all my soft-copy reference materials. This will save me time whenever I need to search for something.

One new idea is not to just save one copy of a document, but to make multiple copies, and cross-file; them in all relevant folders. For example, if I have a document concerning commodity derivatives in Thailand, I would not file it just under my "Commodity Derivatives" folder, nor just under my "Thailand" folder, but in both folders. So in future, the document should be easier to locate.

As for relevant information available from public online sources, I will continue to use my blog, The Asian Banking Lawyer, to hyperlink to them. I will also be making greater use of Google's Email Alert service, to track industry developments relevant to my work.

You might be impressed to know that I usually have less than 10 emails in my office email inbox. I have a system for processing my emails quickly. They are rapidly filed away in a system of moveable folders and subfolders in Lotus Notes. These folders and subfolders themselves become my to-do list. Low-priority matters are pushed to the lowest parts of the list, while important matters go to the top.

I am setting an alarm in my iPhone to go off at 5:30 pm, from Mondays to Fridays. The alarm is to remind me to start wrapping up my work, in preparation for leaving the office at 6 pm.

I will be getting an alarm clock and placing it on my desk. If I need to focus on an important piece of work, I will hang up my phone and set myself a definite time (eg 45 minutes) to tackle the piece of work. I won't be taking any calls during those 45 minutes.

I have printed out a monthly calendar. This one gets to stay on my desk. I will tick the days on which I do succeed in leaving at 6 pm sharp. For the days on which I fail, I will jot down the reason why. After a few weeks or maybe a month, I think that I will have some useful data to to identify any recurring obstacles for my 6 pm project.

That's it for now. I expect to roll out more ideas in the near future, for greater efficiency and effectiveness.


Gy said...

Alternatively, u could create shortcuts to the same document in various folders. So that u only need to update the document once, instead of updating multiple copies.

Laremy said...

Agree with Gy - anyway good luck and all the best with this project... Will be rooting for you!

Anonymous said...

why don't you use Google Desktop Search or similar software to help you locate your documents. i've been using it and find it very useful.


Mr Wang said...

The shortcuts idea is good, yes, I think I'll do that. Thanks!

The Google desktop Search won't work for me. My workplace's IT system won't allow us to download programs/software.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang and other readers,
Any thoughts about meetings?
I always feel that meetings (including the pre-meeting work) are such a waste of time. Especially when the Chairman is deemed to be someone important.

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

Ah yes ...

Soon I will come up with new ideas for handling:

1. face-to-face meetings;

2. conference calls

3. work allocation issues;

4. focusing on niche areas of speciality;

5. building/maintaining profile despite leaving at 6 sharp;

6. tactics for regularly recurring tasks;

7. colleagues who waste your time because they don't communicate clearly or don't really know what they want / need.

Anonymous said...

You may also wish to find some iphone apps that can keep track of your average time in, average time out, and tabulate average work hours just for fun. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

LOLLLLLL ok mr wang, hope it works! i just started my job so i think i will not be implementing this system soon but you keep going!!!!

Little.Blue.Boy. said...

Filing is dead, we have too much data nowadays to file. Install a desktop search engine instead or use the one build into Windows 7.

For emails, I use a 2 minute rule when clearing my inbox. If an email requires less than 2 mins of work, I handle it straight away before moving onto the next email. Otherwise, it gets a deadline when I will come back to it.

Anonymous said...

I wish you all the best Mr Wang. Hopefully it will be such a success that next year you can have a 4pm Project. And then in 2013 a 2pm Project. And in 2014 an 11am Project. And in 2015 a 9am Project.

G said...

There's also the Pomodoro Technique ( to help boost concentration during those working hours.

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

Thanks, Unknown ... The Pomodoro technique sounds interesting, I will try it out.