Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Easy Time Management - Step Two

Easy Time Management - Step Two

Everyone can benefit from managing their time, the first step to implementing this and gaining the benefits, is to create a list of tasks you need to complete. This was covered in detail in Easy Time Management - Step One. Here we discuss the second key stage of prioritizing your tasks and the options available to make this task simple.

A variety of different methods exist to prioritize the tasks you wish to complete. Depending on your situation and what you need to achieve you may select a complex or simple approach to the job. Moreover you can combine these methods to further refine the priorities. The key goal of the prioritization of your tasks is to focus your effort on achieving results rather than just being busy.

The following methods can be considered when prioritizing your tasks:

1) ABC analysis
This consists of analyzing your set of activities and grouping these tasks into A, B and C groups. It can include more than three groups. Importantly for this to enhance your time management you need to assign some targets/restrictions for those groups. For example A must be completed within a week, B within the month, C within the year. Further refinement of the method can split the groups into A-1, A-2 groups again with assigned targets.

2) Pareto Analysis (80/20 grouping)
80 percent of the tasks can be completed in 20% of the time. Hence assign a higher priority to the 80 grouping.

3) The Eisenhower Method
All tasks are reviewed and put into the following groupings:

Important/Not Urgent
Unimportant/Not Urgent

Tasks that are Important are completed personally; if also urgent they are completed immediately. Otherwise, they are given an end date by which they must be completed.

Tasks that are unimportant are delegated; if also not urgent then they are dropped completely.

The teal trust has a slightly different version of this - you can find them easily on google. See the time management section of their website. They see the Important/Urgent section as a fire fighting tasks and the important/not urgent tasks as key tasks. They suggest that the key aim should be to maximise the time spent on such 'Quality Time' tasks and allocate time when you are feeling your best to focus on such tasks, the theory is that many fire fighting tasks result from completing them when you are not at your peak and make mistakes or you have been distracted by a lower priority task.

4) The Fit Method
This really is just the application of current resources to the prioritization of the tasks you have. Tasks that fit with the available resources at the time are given precedence. If you have 30 minutes available, it is best to do something that can be completed in that time with the resources available.

How can you select a method?

The choice of prioritization method is really down to the best fit for you. The great thing here is you can try them all or even devise your own method. Personally I recommend a refinement of the ABC analysis method for most situations.

You may find it easier to prioritize your tasks if you set out some goals for yourself. It is important to have selected goals in all areas of your life (not just say work) this is to ensure that you are aligning the task's importance with your personal goals not just those of the business.

Setting your goals is a topic not covered in this article, but you can ensure you have appropriate goals by using the SMART criteria - Essentially making sure your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, rewarding and timely.

Many people would end their time management at this step. However, once you are prioritizing your tasks and are comfortable with the method you have chosen then you need to start some assessment to review the tasks you have completed over a set period. The Easy Time Management articles cover both revision and progress review in the next post in this series Easy Time Management - Maximise Returns.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Added a few time management links to highlight great sources of information.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Identifying your tasks

Step 1 – Identifying your tasks

The simplest approach to this step is identifying the tasks in a task list or ‘to-do’ list. These can simply be crossed off when completed. There is a vast array of methods of doing this; often the best are usually basic options such as a notepad or white board. However, if you need to manage many complex tasks, many software programmes now exist to hold your task list and allow you to assign priority to them and define them in more detail, with a hierarchy of sub-tasks. These can be part of a timesheet suite or dedicated software.

A key part of identifying the tasks is to select any which you regularly put off or delay. These either need to be divided into sub tasks to allow you to complete the tasks in achievable chunks, or reviewed to identify why you put them off. Often recording the positive benefits of having completed the task will help to get it completed.

Similarly, lengthy tasks with distant deadlines need to be broken into smaller tasks to ensure that they are not overlooked and you can see progress on a weekly or monthly basis.

When considering the list of tasks, those you regularly complete need only be recorded when they are of a significant importance. Most routine tasks can be discarded, particularly if you complete them daily.

It is also important to remove tasks that realistically you will never complete; otherwise the progress will be making will be hidden by the constant presence of these unachievable tasks.

Finally, try to include a task you like to complete on a weekly basis, possibly the last task for the week. This can be a good driver to complete your task, even those you are not looking forward to doing.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Time Management in 4 simple steps


Everyone can benefit from managing their time, and in most cases you probably are doing at least a little time management already. If you use to-do lists or enter time sheets regularly you will have some time management knowledge already. Adding a little more focus and effort can realise the full potential of this skill. Even if you are new to time management, it is a simple skill to learn, but one which can bring you huge benefits.

What is time management? I define it as

Management of priories to maximise the goals achieved given the requirements and resources available.

You are not really managing your time but ensuring you achieve as many of your tasks with the resources you have. Of course a key finite resource out of those available to you is time.

A frequent goal for time management is productivity and this can be given a significant boost with these practices. However, time management can be used to improve many other things such as your work-home balance.

Managing your time can bring the following benefits.

  • Increased Efficiency
  • Increased Effectiveness
  • Personal Development
  • Increased responsibility
  • Reduce Stress
  • Empower colleagues

Ultimately time management can be used to improve your life and even that of your colleagues and friends.

If you want to manage your time you have already made the first step, consciously deciding to manage your time and revisiting this every few months, can have an enormous positive impact in the way you live.

I'm going to cover the four steps which can bring you all these benefits and then more tips and tricks to make time work for you.