Time Management

20 Time-Management Lessons Everyone Should Learn In Their 20s

Posted on MAY 8, 2014, 12:04 PM
Article from http://www.businessinsider.com

When you're just starting your career, you need all the help you can get managing your time. Even when you're working hard, you could be wasting a tremendous amount of time either by trying to multitask or by focusing too much on minute details.

Montreal-based designer √Čtienne Garbugli has struggled with all of that. But as he's gotten older, he's learned how to manage his time and workload more effectively. Today, he's a consultant and entrepreneur, and recently published his first book, "Lean B2B: Build Products Businesses Want."

Last year, he collected some of his favorite lessons in the SlideShare presentation "26 Time Management Hacks I Wish I'd Known At 20." In December, SlideShare named it the "Most Liked" presentation of 2013.

Below, we've explained some of Garbugli's best time-management tips everyone should learn in their 20s.

1. There's always time. Time is priorities.

You never "run out of time." If you didn't finish something by the time it was due, it's because you didn't consider it urgent or enjoyable enough to prioritize ahead of whatever else you were doing.

2. Days always fill up faster than you'd expect.

Build in some buffer time. As the founder of Ruby on Rails and Basecamp, David Heinemeier Hansson said, "Only plan on four to five hours of real work per day."

3. Work more when you're in the zone. Relax when you're not.

Some days you'll be off your game, and other times you'll be able to maintain your focus for 12 hours straight. Take advantage of those days.

4. Stop multitasking. It kills your focus.

There have been academic studies that found the brain expends energy as it readjusts its focus from one item to the next. If you're spending your day multitasking, you're exhausting your brain.

5. We're always more focused and productive with limited time.

Work always seems to find a way of filling the space allotted for it, so set shorter time limits for each task.

6. Work is the best way to get working. Start with small tasks to get the ball rolling.

The business plan you need to finish may be intimidating at 8 in the morning. Get your mind on the right path with easy tasks, such as answering important work emails.

7. Work iteratively. Expectations to do things perfectly are stifling.

Gen. George S. Patton once said, "A good plan executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week."

8. More work hours doesn't mean more productivity. Use constraints as opportunities.

Don't kid yourself into thinking that sitting at your desk will somehow extract work from you. Do whatever you can to finish your current task by the end of regular work hours instead of working into the night.

9. Separate brainless and strategic tasks to become more productive.

Ideally, you can brainstorm your ideas and then execute them. If you're constantly stopping your flow of work to rethink something, you're slowing yourself down.

10. Organize important meetings early in the day. Time leading up to an event is often wasted.

If you have an important meeting scheduled for 4 p.m., it's easy for anxiety to set in and keep that meeting at the front of your mind. Try to get them over with early so you can work without worrying about them.

11. Schedule meetings and communication by email or phone back-to-back to create blocks of uninterrupted work.

You'll disrupt your flow if you're reaching out to people throughout the day.

12. Work around procrastination. Procrastinate between intense sprints of work.

Try Francesco Cirillo's "Pomodoro Technique." "Pomodoro" is Italian for "tomato," and it refers to the tomato-shaped cooking timer Cirillo used to break his work into 25-minute increments with 5-minute breaks in between. You can use the same idea with your own increments, as long as they inspire bursts of hard work.

13. Break down a massive task into manageable blocks.

Alabama football coach Nick Saban follows a similar philosophy he calls the Process. Instead of having his players focus on winning the championship, he trains them to focus only on what is directly in front of them — each block, pass, and field goal.

14. No two tasks ever hold the same importance. Always prioritize. Be really careful with to-do lists.

Daily to-do lists are effective ways of scheduling your day. Just do what you can to keep bullet points from making "clean desk" on par with "file taxes."

15. Always know the one thing you really need to get done during the day.

To help prioritize, determine what task in front of you is most important, and focus your energy into getting that done as soon as possible.

16. Delegate, and learn to make use of other people.

To be truly efficient, get over the fear of handing work off to someone else. "If something can be done 80% as well by someone else, delegate!" says John C. Maxwell, author of "How Successful People Think: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life."

17. Turn the page on yesterday. Only ever think about today and tomorrow.

Don't distract yourself with either the successes or failures of the past. Focus instead on what's in front of you.

18. Set deadlines for everything. Don't let tasks go on indefinitely.

Spending too much time on a project or keeping it on the backburner for too long will lead to stagnation. Get things done and move on.

19. Always take notes.

Don't assume you'll remember every good idea that comes into your head during the day. It doesn't matter if it's a notebook, whiteboard, or an app like Evernote — just write stuff down.

20. Write down any unrelated thoughts that pop up when you're in the zone, so that they don't linger as distractions.

You'll get them out of the way without losing them.

Posted on MAY 8, 2014, 12:04 PM
Article from http://www.businessinsider.com

Five golden rules of time management

Both entrepreneurs and their staff should consider a few key areas, to help them become more productive than ever

Jon Card   
Guardian Professional, Thursday 1 May 2014 09.28 BST   
Posted from http://www.theguardian.com/small-business-network/

Successful time managers usually have to-do lists to keep them on track. Photograph: Alamy

Time management is a contentious subject. Many of the prescriptions of experts and consultants can be both counter-intuitive and critical of how workplaces are actually governed. Its maxims tend to take issue with micro-management and call for people to take control of their own time, work and personal lives. Ultimately, time management is a personal goal process, but there are a few key areas which everyone should consider. These five golden rules are designed for both entrepreneurs and their staff and should help you to become more productive than ever.

The to-do list

Every successful time manager has a to-do list of some sort and entrepreneurs are no exception. Sir Richard Branson believes in lists so much that he adorned the inner sleeves of his biography with them. To-do lists are typically done daily and are meant to help us focus on what's urgent and important. Time management expert and business consultant Mike Gardner recommends writing a to-do list at the same time every day. "It's generally agreed that they should be done at the same time every day, for me it's the night before," he says. To-do lists are great for left-brain logical types, but for some they can be a problem. However, an action list of three things, which can only be done by the individual, should work for most people, he says. "I recommend that people write down three things they want to achieve and focus on those first. Take it as far as you can and then move on to the next thing."

One task at a time

Concentration works best when it is focused on a task in hand. Constant interruptions break our train of thought and increase the time it takes to do tasks. It's not always possible to prevent every interruption, but don't float between tasks. Also, try to limit distractions and persuade others to leave you alone when you're busy. "A two minute phone call takes away about 15 minutes of productivity if it interrupts an important task, similarly emails are very distracting," says Gardner. "I recommend only checking emails three times per day, in the morning, midday and evening. Also, I let calls go to voicemail if I am busy. In truth most people can do this. We wouldn't respond if we were in a meeting or at the hospital, so it is doable. Often it's about training others as to how you work and taking control," says Gardner.

Automate where possible

With online tools emerging all the time, our existing working practices quickly become old-fashioned. A regular review of your current methods might well reveal ways of improving efficiency through automation. "If you've done it more than three times then create a system to do it for you," advises Nicola Bird, CEO and founder of online coaching company Jigsawbox. Bird built up her company while also raising a family and is a strong advocate of simplifying life wherever possible. Her company uses a range of easy to operate systems to handle emails, follow up on sales and handle admin. All systems must also undergo the 'Tilly Test' (named after Bird's young daughter), which means they must be so simple that even a child could understand them. "If you automate your income streams you can focus on the important things in life," she says.

Parkinson's law

"Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion," declared British civil servant Cyril Parkinson. It's a point which many have taken exception to over the years, but there does seem to be some truth in it. It's remarkable how much we can all achieve when pushed, so cut down on your workload by slashing the time spent doing it. Gardner reckons that if we really enjoy a task we tend to stretch out the time it takes to complete it and there's a great deal of procrastination in the workplace. "Sometimes we should say: 'that's good enough'. It's not that we should not do good work, but that often we achieve 80 % of the task in 20% of the time we spend doing it. The rest of the time is spent attempting to perfect it, when really we should stick to time limits and complete the task."

Take a break

The final rule of time management is the most paradoxical of them all - do nothing. If we work around the clock, we become less productive, creative and prone to making costly mistakes. Everyone needs sleep, some time off and a little time to step back and think about things. Angela Muir, head of leadership and people practice at Ashridge Business School, says all business owners need to take breaks, although the exact amount of time required is a personal decision. "There's no 'one size fits all' approach for holidays, the key things are about autonomy and control," she says. Muir also says that business owners that get too sucked into the world of work can dramatically reduce their effectiveness. A lack of sleep can reduce productivity by as much as 80% and mistakes are bound to follow.

Entrepreneurs are liable to burning out and should step back before they do so. "There's something about stepping away from the dance floor and going up to the balcony to look down on things for a while - stepping back and recharging your batteries is a good idea," Muir says.

For Nicola Bird, this has a special resonance, and she is now determined not to overwork, as she has done in the past. "I used to be really goal driven. I was striving to get everything, the seven-figure company, the house, the car, etc. But when I achieved it all I didn't feel any happier and I also became really ill," she says. The illness became a watershed moment in Bird's life and she has since embarked on her Simplicity Project. "It's about taking things off my to-do list and focusing on what's important. We need to be more aware of how we are feeling and how this affects our ability to work."

Similarly, Gardner says he's seen many middle and senior managers burn out and advises against burning the candle at both ends. "No-one says 'I wish I spent more time in the office' when they're on their deathbed," he says.

Jon Card   
Guardian Professional, Thursday 1 May 2014 09.28 BST   
Posted from http://www.theguardian.com/small-business-network/

Time Management Skills Are Stupid. Here’s What Works.

By Eric Barker
March 28, 2014

Put the schedule down for a second.

Consider something I read in The Power of Full Engagement: Maybe it’s not about time. It’s about energy.

Via The Power of Full Engagement:

Energy, not time, is the fundamental currency of high performance.

It’s a qualitative lens instead of a quantitative one. Focusing on your time management skills sounds great but all hours are not created equal.

We’re not machines and the time model is a machine model. Our job isn’t to be a machine — it’s to give the machines something brilliant to do.

Do you accomplish more in three hours when you’re sleep-deprived or in one hour when you feel energetic, optimistic and engaged?

This may sound fluffy but it’s an important perspective to take: 10 hours of work when you’re exhausted, cranky and distracted might be far less productive than 3 hours when you’re “in the zone.”

So why not focus less on hours and more on doing what it takes to make sure you’re at your best?

Work Like An Athlete

For most people, good work happens in sprints, not marathons. Time management skills don’t address that.

Use the analogy of an athlete. They might train for long periods of time but the focus is not on monotonous hours of uninspired grind.

For athletes, it’s a focused explosion of effort followed by rest and planning before another all-out push.

Via The Power of Full Engagement:

Their entire lives are designed around expanding, sustaining and renewing the energy they need to compete for short, focused periods of time. At a practical level, they build very precise routines for managing energy in all spheres of their lives–eating and sleeping; working out and resting; summoning the appropriate emotions; mentally preparing and staying focused; and connecting regularly to the mission they have set for themselves. Although most of us spend little or no time systematically training in any of these dimensions, we are expected to perform at our best for eight, ten, and even twelve hours a day.

Forget the stereotype of the dumb jock. The athlete metaphor is actually quite good for the modern day worker.

Who is more concerned with results over theory than athletes? Who looks at metrics more than they do?

Via The Power of Full Engagement:

They aren’t satisfied with inspirational messages or clever theories about performance. They seek measurable, enduring results. They care about batting averages, free-throw percentages, tournament victories and year-end rankings. They want to be able to sink the putt on the eighteenth hole in the final round, hit the free throw when the game is on the line, catch the pass in a crowd with a minute to go on the clock. Anything else is just talk.

The Research Agrees

A lot of research on self-control and willpower aligns with what The Power of Full Engagement says about focusing on the proper use and renewal of energy.

In my interview with Roy Baumeister, author of the New York Times bestseller Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, he made clear that every decision you make depletes your self-control:

Making choices depletes willpower and afterward your self-control is impaired. If you have people exert self-control and deplete their willpower and later on have them make decisions, then their decision-making is of poor quality.

President Barack Obama makes deliberate efforts to limit decision fatigue so he can devote his mental energy to things that matter:

“I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing,” he told Michael Lewis. “Because I have too many other decisions to make.”

So when you perform different types of work is key.

Do you wake up fresh and renewed — only to respond to thirty depleting emails solving someone else’s problems?

Jealously hoard your prime hours for important work. Respond to email when your brain is already taxed.

It’s Not Just Physical

It’s not merely an issue of physical energy. The book also discusses softer things like relationships, optimism and meaning that bring energy to our work days.

Work metrics get measured and analyzed but we’re terrible about being as accountable in our personal lives — even though the latter can make a huge qualitative difference in performance.

Via The Power of Full Engagement:

“It’s great to know how to recharge your batteries, but it’s even more important that you actually do it,” Vinod Khosla, a partner at the venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfield and Byers told Fast Company. “I track how many times I get home in time to have dinner with my family. My assistant reports the exact number to me each month. Your company measures its priorities. People also need to place metrics around their priorities…”

Personally, if I don’t schedule significant social time into my weekend, Monday hits me twice as hard. It feels like I never really “got away.”

A 40-hour week after a weekend getaway is quite different from a 40 (or 50) hour week without it.

Research shows vacations increase productivity at work for up to a month afterward. All hours are not the same.
What To Do Next

If you want to work like an athlete, here are things to take into consideration:

  •     Get enough sleep: Nobody is at their best when exhausted.
  •     Know your prime hours and use them strategically.
  •     Time meals and snacks to make sure you have the energy to do solid work and you’re not  hungry    or sluggish when you need to perform.
  •     Strategically use rituals that keep you positive and energized. Does social time rejuvenate you? Does a video game session help you relax?
  •     Schedule evening and weekend activities that recharge you.

No doubt, time management skills are necessary. But just as with your relationships, “quality time” matters and right now there’s little focus on that.

By Eric Barker
March 28, 2014