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.

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