Building better habits

By He Jianwei (
Updated: 2008-04-15 09:43

Life can become a cobweb of emails, phone calls and files, and instant messaging software makes office time less efficient. Some new Web sites that help people manage their time are increasingly popular among Chinese office workers. These sites provide practical tools for time management and a support community of other netizens to make sure users stick to their plans.

Based on a book

Registered users on are given an online work space. They can write down a list of tasks and split up big tasks into small pieces to ensure they finish each task on time.

These Web sites are based on lessons from the book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (by David Allen, 267 pp, Penguin, US $ 15), which describes an “action management method. Getting Things Done (GTD) is based on the principle that a person needs to get tasks out of his head and onto a list. Writing down a list of tasks frees the worker from remembering everything that needs to be done and allows him to concentrate on actually performing tasks.

How to save time

“If I have a lot of work to do, I’m always in a flurry. GTD is a good way for me to arrange everything and finish tasks more efficiently,” Lucia Zhao, a secretary in a company, said. “I can concentrate on the tasks at hand” sincshe started to use, she said.

She first lists all her tasks to collect everything that must be completed, remembered or done. “The more specific, the better. For example, I will list the task of deleting thealternate files I made yesterday,” she said.To evaluate the importance of the tasks is the second step. “There are so many tasks I must do every day, but if I do not know which is most important, I end up lost,” he said.

She will evaluate which task is the most important, which is least important and which can be postponed. “Something like ‘learn French’ would be listed as a future task,” she said. To organize the tasks is the third step. It is the key step that determines how efficiently you work. “If I have too many tasks to remember, it will waste my time. I have to organize all the tasks well,” she said. For every item that requires attention, to decide what is the next action is critical. “For example, if the item is ‘write a project report,’ the next action might be ‘call managers for a meeting.’

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