We all know that one super overachieving person who exercises, is a superstar at work, plays a sport, composes music and has written a couple of books. Since all of us have 24 hours in a day, how in the world do some people end up achieving more than the others in the same time period?
The answer to that lies in how certain people use their time and what they do to achieve more than the others. Being resourceful with your time can have a very positive effect on the goals that you set out for yourself. Here are some basic time management techniques and tools that can help you make the most of your day.
Welcome to the first piece of a two part series on time management 101 with Suhas Motwani and I. We’ve spent the last week compiling basic time management techniques to help you make the most of your time using productivity hacks. Here we go:
Basic Time management techniques
- To Do Lists
To start with what is perhaps the most rudimentary method of managing your time, to do lists serve as a yardstick to give you an indication of the quantum of work that has to be performed. Compiling and checking off a list will ensure that all tasks are completed or atleast not left hanging or worse — forgotten.
Though this may sound like throwback to your college dorm, journaling works much like the summary of your term end essay. It allows you to recap on the important bits and effectively plan for the next day. Journaling also ensures that that important ideas and tasks do not slip through the net and stay fresh in your mind when you get to work first thing in the morning.
Now that the quantum of work has been chunked down into bite sized pieces, where does one start? It’s always a good idea to rank your tasks in order of their importance. This will ensure that the most important tasks get checked off your list first and in case of emergencies, only the least important tasks will be affected. If you are familiar with the 80–20 rule, you will appreciate the ability to perform the top 20% of the tasks before laying a finger on the rest.
Again another simple technique but super effective. When the decision to prioritise one task over another is not straightforward, the Eisenhower matrix can come in handy to help you decide
- Time boxing
Time boxing is a technique of setting a fixed timeframe within which, a predetermined task or activity is to be performed. A definite start timing and end timing gives the task a deadline and pushes you to create a plan of action for the execution of the task. This becomes tricky if you’re working on a task for the first time and do not know how much time it will take.
Don’t let that hold you back. Throw in a rough guesstimate and refine your estimations as time passes and your mastery of the task improves.
Still not sure about the effectiveness of this technique? Just ask someone who regularly works 100 hour work weeks, is often compared to Tony Stark and successfully heads two very large, ground breaking companies. I’ll leave you to figure out who I’m referring to :)
Every person has to work with a mere 24 hours to achieve (or try to) his/her set of tasks. When the complexity of the task is high, it means that the time required to complete the task is relative to the task complexity and task familiarity.
While dealing with tasks of high complexity, the two best ways to approach are:
- Divide and delegate
- Assign tasks based on expertise
- Make decisions based on their outcome
We often get lost in the intricacies of decisions and lose brain power on decisions of little or no value. We’re all (myself included) been guilty of this at some point. Trivial decisions are usually given a lot of thought by taking all factors into consideration when the outcome doesn’t hold importance.
- Automate recurring tasks
We’ve all got recurring tasks that we perform without giving it a second thought. Though it doesn’t take much mental capacity, it still takes time to perform these actions.Automating as many of these recurring tasks as possible opens up your schedule to use your time and mental capacity for the decisions that really matter.
- Finish what you started
It’s always a good idea to pick up tasks one at a time and finish a task before moving to the next. This allows you to focus your efforts on the task at hand instead of spreading your concentration too thin across a wide range of tasks and ideas. If you cannot complete a task within a designated time frame, it’s probably a good idea to go back to the prioritisation matrix and identify if you can revise the time-box.
If revising the time-box is not a possibility, then make sure to close your current window before picking up the next task. Multi-tasking is great but not the most efficient way of completing complex tasks.
Live your best life
If all these techniques have left you frazzled, don’t sweat it — watch out for Suhas Motwani’s Part 2 of this series for a handy list of resources, tools and applications that you can use to hack your productivity levels.
We hope that these techniques and tools can help you increase your productivity but ultimately allow you to get after your goals so you can be out there living your best life.