Introduction: Time Management for Everyone
Have you ever felt like you're rushing all day and just keep getting late. Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the amount of work you just can't get done in a single day? If yes, read on...
What if I told you that after reading this instructable, you'll never be late again?
What if I told you that I can make you the most productive person you know?
By using three time management concepts described here you'll finally learn how to organize your time to suit your needs. This instructable consists of three tools for better time management, each serving it's purpose stacking one atop another for the final plan.
At first it's going to take you 10-15 minutes to write your daily plan, but with practice, once you get a hang of it, you could do it under 5 min.
It's scientifically proven through many tests (during the "scientific management" era of business management) that one minute spent in planning, saves 10 minutes in execution. Doesn't sound much?
Well look at it this way, by writing out your time plan you will get 1000% return on investment of your time.
So let's get started!
Step 1: Eisenhower Decision Matrix
The first step is Eisenhower's decision matrix. The purpose of this tool is to teach you how to prioritize, and to teach you about common pitfalls of prioritizing. It's a great and extremely visual tool for beginners. It's only downside is that you can't plan time oriented tasks this way.
Start by drawing a simple coordinate system like shown in picture. Then going clockwise from top left quadrant mark quadrants A,B,C,D.
Each Of this quadrants serves as a box for a specific type of tasks. Quadrants A and C are for tasks that are urgent, while B and D are not urgent. Quadrants A and B are for important tasks, and C and D are not important.
In the A quadrant you'll put only tasks that are both URGENT AND IMPORTANT. Those are the tasks that are time defined and important, like going on an important meeting, job interviews, taking exams. Also here goes studying for exams, because if you miss your studying session, next time you're going to have to learn the same amount, but in less time. Forcing you to study more each day just to keep up.
Those are tasks if not completed, leave immediate consequences on your life.
In the B quadrant put tasks that are IMPORTANT BUT NOT URGENT. Those tasks are things that bring value to your life and things that you truly enjoy. Things like spending time with your significant other, friends and family. Reading a good book, working out, or practicing some instrument or a hobby. You'll know you prioritized your time well, when 80% of all your tasks are from B quadrant.
These are tasks that if skipped once, isn't a big deal. But if you get in a habit of skipping it, you're going to have a bad time.
In the C quadrant put tasks that are URGENT BUT NOT IMPORTANT. People spend most of their lives doing C priority tasks. Because they shout urgent, but never are important, people always tend to do the urgent first, which is a wring way to do things. Those are tasks like doing chores, doing some kind of work for someone else, checking e-mails and all other interruptions.
In short those are tasks that someone or something else can do for you. In this box goes everything that you can DELEGATE.
For example answering phone calls and e-mails. If you work in an office have an assistant or an intern to do that for you. While you're doing tasks that only you can do!
Also bear in mind that if C tasks are left unattended for too long they'll become an A tasks.
And finally the D tasks are things that AREN'T URGENT AND AREN'T IMPORTANT. Some people call this quadrant "Dicking around" quadrant. Here you'll put everything that just plain stupid fun for you to do from time to time. Like watching TV shows or mindlessly surfing the Internet, etc.
Also remember: "What is urgent is seldom important, and what is important is seldom urgent".
Step 2: Time Jar Method
This isn't exactly a graphic system like the other two, but just a concept how to organize.
The point here is to always give advantage to A tasks over B tasks, B over C, and C over D.
Because your willpower and mental focus are finite resources. Just like nobody can just start running and keep the same pace all day, nobody can have same mental focus and willpower all day.
Therefore you'll put most important things in your schedule first and then fill in the blanks with less important tasks. Just like the science project you did as a kid. You put the big rocks in a jar first. Then filled the space between the rocks with pebbles, and then filled the remaining space with sand. Hence the name Time Jar. Because same thing applies here.
You do the most important tasks(A) first while you're still fresh. Or just schedule them first if it's something you have no power over timing it, like the time of the exams or meetings.
Then you fill in the remaining time with B priorities. Then C, and then if it's any time left D.
Step 3: Time Boxing or Putting It All Together
Time boxing method is a concept where every task of your day takes up some space in your time. Kinda like tetris game. Your goal is to fill all the space with as little blank space as possible.
Here I have written a simple schedule in MS Paint, so you can get the idea how it should look. The blue arrows pointing between the boxes are here just to show you blank spaces for filling with other tasks.
As you can see from my image, first you write down; box the A priorities in your day.Then B, then C and D.
The best way to visualize that is to take a notebook with squared lines for calculating (notebook for math). There mark one vertical line of 96 squares long. Now those 96 squares represent 24 hours of your day, and each square represents 15 minutes of time. Now mark every task with it's starting and ending time like shown in picture. If you don't know how long will something take, just estimate, and at the end of it write down how long did it actually take. This is to teach you how long certain things actually take. With time you'll develop a better feeling for time and this won't be necessary.
If something gets canceled or rescheduled adjust on your plan accordingly. Or even if something pops out, you'll know what priority is that and adjust your schedule accordingly. That means you won't cancel studying for important test and go drinking with your buddies, just like you will cancel everything if someone close to you is sick and needs your help.
I hope my little system is helpful to you. If you need any further assistance or information, write it in the comments, I'll be more than happy to help you.
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