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8 simple rules to improve your time management

Time Management

Time management is one of the most talked about and written about work/life tool but it's still difficult to apply it to our daily lives with all the distractions we're exposed too. CareerLaab set out to test and try some of the best time management advise out there and share it with you, because you know we had a little time on our hands (pun intended) thoughts below. 

1. Prioritising

best defined as "determining the order for dealing with tasks or series of items according to their relative importance (source: anon). what you do? At the start of your day or set your tasks in order of most to least important and enjoy crossing off the list as you complete these tasks.

2. Urgent vs Important

To become effective at time management, learn to list your priority tasks in order of importance and not just by urgency. This is a key difference, as you create a list consider how important a task is and add this to your urgent list. By effectively deciding the level of importance of a task your handling your also dealign with these as a priority. Remember, important tasks not dealt with in a timely manner, will quickly becoming urgent if you leave them off for days.

3. Grouping tool

To better define your urgent and important tasks using this tool. Group your tasks or series of items into four main groups: Urgent and Most Important, Not Urgent but Important, Urgent but not Important, Neither Urgent or Important. We found this grouping to be quite effective in reducing email stress and organising our day.

4. Take a short break or two

Go for a walk at lunch, do a short gym session, get some fresh air. This was very useful in splitting the day into blocks which in turn made the day more manageable. Short breaks are equally effective when trying to resolve complex issues, as you return to the problem with a fresh pair of eyes.

5. Lists

One of our most difficult tools we tested was "Lists". When creating a list, we found ourselves with multiple lists rather than a singular list because we ended up losing track. Additionally, interruptions throughout your day by people (i.e. boss, a customer) is disruptive to your task list as you quickly need to adapt to these changes. To minimize this impact, don't be afraid to share your important tasks of the day with your boss and ask him/her if there is one you can push back and deprioritise.

6. 80/20 rule

The Pareto System or the 80/20 rule is a good way to assess your tasks based on the results they will yield (we found this particularly effective when prioritising medium to long term goals and an overwhelmingly busy day). Apply this rule to your important tasks, activities or project goals.

Ask yourself, will 20% of my activities, input or actions, yield 80% of results, whereby I will have successfully completed all my urgent and important tasks? Continue with this trail of thought. Ask again, does the majority of my time spent on this group of activities or tasks (i.e. administrative tasks) give me 80% result or could I outsource it to another colleague (i.e. project assistant)?

Carefully scrutinise your List and its highly probable you will only have a handful of items that are truly connected to your most important tasks to do that week or month.

TIP: Focus your time on the fewer larger items that will yield the most significant results (20 of your tasks yielding 80% of work done).

7. The 4D system

Procrastination is a common issue for some individuals, and our founder is a self-confessed procrastinator...she applies the 4D system to overcome procrastination when handling high email volumes:

Delete it - Think 80/20? Does it need to be done at all?

Delegate - Can you delegate to someone more apt at handling the task? (also useful rule for team leaders/managers)

Dot it Now - As early in the day as you can, don't postpone it.

Defer - Not a high priority item and cannot be done quickly, than defer it! Focus on high priority or tasks with high resolution and 80% yield.

8. Block

Be sure to block time off in your calendar for key tasks in the day (it will probably help to keep those time-consuming meetings to a minimum too).

Try these out but don't forget it takes time to get used to these approaches, figuring out what works best for you but don't shy away from using a combination of these tools.

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