Time management: your first guide
December 14, 2019

Productivity

Key Moments in Time Management

By Alexander Sergeev

If you’re going to work hard for eight hours a day, you’ll eventually become a ruler and get right to work twelve hours a day.

The biggest load carries the strongest camel.

Murphy’s Laws of work

We must remember that our minds can simultaneously operate up to 7 ± 2 objects (Irwin-Miller’s Number). This applies to the left hemisphere. The abilities of the right one (responsible for the subconscious) are much wider. That is why complex evaluation solutions should be made by the subconscious, i.e. we should develop what is called intuition.

Stages of automation the information

The information has the following stages of automation while learning. Initially, we have certain knowledge acquired. After being worked out in practice the knowledge pass to the level of skills. It means that a person can not only discuss and answer the questions regarding the particular field but also knows how to apply his knowledge to solve practical problems. After solving several practical problems the skills can become attainments. It’s a higher level of automation, it is already in the subconscious. What is attainment? It means that you can do the job “without hesitation”, i.e. quickly and easily.

The “Number 7 ± 2” rule in relation to education is as follows: the information should be repeated for 5-9 to move from one level to the next one.

The approximate time of occurrence of such a habit – three months of regular effort.

The sense of time

The sense of time is the inner voice that can provide answers to such questions as: “How long will it take to prepare a report on the implementation of the project?”, “How much time takes the road from home to the office?”, “What time is it now?”. The sense of time is the physical sensation of its passing. The sense of time is important for planning, self-management during the work, stress management.

There are several ways to develop a sense of time:

  • calibration (Before starting doing your task estimate theoretically the amount of time needed. After finishing the task, compare the actual time and the theoretically planned.  It’s good if the error is three minutes or less),
  • duration (record the time of the beginning and finishing of the task).

There are four main components on which time management is built:

  • objectives
  • priorities
  • tools
  • habits

Criteria of the objective:

There are four obligatory criteria of the objective: concreteness, measurability, date, tangibility. Concreteness: “I want to buy a red Peugeot 407” instead of “I want to buy a car”. Measurability: use three reference points – min, plan, and max. Date: “I want to buy a Peugeot 407 by December 2008” instead of “I want to buy a Peugeot 407”. Tangibility: The objective should be perceived as a real one for a person to strive to achieve it.

If there is a conflict of the objectives, you can use one of the following methods:

  1. Abandon one of the objectives
  2. Priority according to the principle: this first, everything else later.
  3. Priority on the basis of 1, 2, 3…
  4. Delegation
  5. Specification of objectives
  6. Planning
  7. The aim of the objective is the harmonization of conflicting targets by finding the principal mission.

Priorities and decision-making

Business requires making choices and decisions, setting priorities every day. Decision-making consists of two components:

1. Tools help to consider each of the alternatives and prepare an information base for the decision-making.

2. Courage in the presence of all the information helps to make the decision quickly. And also in case of the lack of information that often occurs in a competitive market.

According to the “Code of the samurai”, the right decision is made within 7 seconds. This is possible if you have 5-7 years of experience in your field. During this very period, professional intuition is formed. You should have a good basis to develop it. The basis of professional intuition is developed prioritization tools.

The basic prioritization tools are:

  • Pareto principle;
  • Comparison matrix;
  • Eisenhower matrix.

Pareto Principle

In order to weed out most of our tasks, we need a certain criterion. The measure is the ratio of 80:20 or the Pareto principle. Regarding time management, it states 20% of all tasks that we do bring us 80% of the results. It means that in any area of similar objects exists uneven distribution. The benefit of the Pareto rule is a clear ratio of 20:80. The key part is always about one-fifth of the whole. Knowing this in advance, you can get rid of 80% of ineffective work. Therefore, if we can see these grains and separate them from the chaff, we’ll have a strong growth of efficiency of our work.

It is important to choose the right criterion, which will split the tasks for 20 and 80.

Ask some questions before doing a task. If I do this task, what will happen in a day? Week? Month? Year? Solving this problem, what benefits will I get in a day? Week? Month? Year? If I refuse to perform it, what will I lose in a day? Week? Month? Year?

Comparison matrix

1. Determine the purpose of the comparison.

2. Choose two or more real objects of comparison.

3. Chalk out 5-7 qualitative criteria.

4. Import the original data (​​fill in the table with the quantitative values).

5. Make battles between the criteria to determine which one has won.

6. On the assumption of the goal identify the key criteria.

7. Make a decision on the assumption of key criteria.

Eisenhower matrix

There are two parameters that describe any task:

  • How important is the task? – Denoted as the “Importance”.
  • How urgent is the task? – Denoted as the “Urgency”.

If all the tasks are divided into two criteria, four squares occur. The “important/urgent” square is contingently denoted as “A”. Urgent tasks. They are to be done immediately. This square is like a fire that requires your immediate intervention. If the task is to be done today and it is included in 20% key tasks according to Pareto, it is the task of the “A” category. Imagine that tomorrow you’ll have 2, 5, 10 tasks that are to be done exactly tomorrow and are of great importance. How should we call such a day? Time trouble. All hands on deck. The truth is that 80% of all hands’ job people plan themselves. Consciously or unconsciously, we do not consider the factors and variables, which lead to the fact that we work for all hands on deck every day. The logical question is how to avoid this? How do these “A” ll hands on deck occur?

80 % of burning tasks occur because we do not pay enough attention to the square “B” – important, but not urgent tasks. Once you have paid no attention to this square, it immediately reminds about itself – and here is force majeure. Work with them. Extinguish the fire.

There are three most important groups of tasks in the square “B”:

  • Health;
  • Training;
  • Regular tasks (daily, weekly, monthly routine)

The third square is denoted as “C” and contains urgent but not important tasks. It’s nothing. You waste time on them and get nothing in return. It is like a lottery ticket without a win. What is the danger of such cases? Life is fortunately finite and “C”s make it empty. We need to determine in advance what are these “thieves of time”, how do they catch us. Because every day we waste our life on such parasites as queues, traffic jams, blank calls, useless searches on the Internet, “dead” clients.

Square “D” contains unimportant and non-urgent tasks. Sometimes they are called trash. If it’s not important and not urgent – forget about it! But they are often pleasant, easy to implement. That’s why people do it. By the way, if you set clear objectives, the defense from “C” and “D” is built automatically. Our mind blocks “thieves of time” in the presence of a clear, ambitious objectives. Accordingly, the setting of an objective works for your priorities – the defense of your working schedule and personal life.

The conclusions on the Eisenhower matrix:

1. “A”-tasks can be reduced by 80% by paying attention daily to the square “B”.

2. “C”-tasks are the “thieves of time”, you should defend your time from them.

3. Setting goals helps to organize our work on priorities.

4. Only “B”-tasks are to be planed. “A” come on their own, you do not know when a force majeure occurs. “C” does not interfere with you if there is defense.

5. If during 20 working days 4 days you stay at work for an hour or two, that’s fine. 20% of all hands’ job is a healthy pulse of the business. But if you work late hours for 16 working days – it is an indicator that it is high time to pay attention to the square “B”.

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