Constraining time - Deepstash

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What's More Productive: Counting Hours or Tasks Accomplished?

Constraining time

The biggest advantage of constraining time is that it’s always unambiguous. If you decide to work for three hours and then stop, there’s no confusion there.

Disadvantage: time constraints can encourage a sloppier attitude towards work. For example, you might decide to spend all day studying in the library—but without tasks to constrain your productivity, you end up checking your phone.

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Ruthless prioritization

It means deciding not to do things you'd really like to do. It also means deciding what's the most important task even when everything on your list feels crucial.

But if you can prioritize...

Consolidate All of Your Tasks Into a Single Source

To-dos arrive from a variety of sources. Your boss sends you an email, you get a Slack message from IT, a bill arrives in the mail, or a coworker asks for a favor in the hallway.

In order to prioritize your task list efficiently, you need a master to-do list that contains all of the tasks you need to prioritize and complete from all of those sources.

Analyze Your Task List

Go through your list, review each task, and decide what you want to do with it. You have 4 options:

  • Do: complete the task now
  • Defer: complete it later
  • Delegate: assign it to someone else
  • Delete: remove it from your list
The Action Hero

Give them a seemingly impossible list of tasks and they will have them done and dusted faster than a speeding bullet. But in their haste, they can miss things and prioritize...

The Diva

Very sociable and upbeat but with a tendency to procrastinate, they often boast about their nonexistent achievements giving the impression they are more productive than they really are.

Strategy: breaking tasks into tiny steps, scheduling their resolution and setting reminders works well. Email management according to urgency is also crucial considering how much time it usually consumes. 

The Workhorse

Thoughtful, cautious, methodical and quite independent in terms in carrying out tasks. They plan and prioritize well, but may be seen as overcautious, while others can be frustrated by their inertia. Their dedication to the job can also lead to an unwillingness to share the burden of work.

Strategy: Choose the most important things you need to focus on and those that only you can do, while delegating the rest according to staff skills.

Goal-Setting

Any goal or project will usually have these basic qualities:

  • A general ambition or motivation. (e.g. learn French)
  • A specific target. (e.g.  speak fluently)
Goals To Start In The Middle

When a goal has high uncertainty as to what level is achievable to reach within a particular time-frame, it is better to set specific targets in the middle of the process.

Plan your goals with the variables you do have: overall direction, time-frame, level of effort and strategies.

Reasons To Postpone Goal-Setting
  • Uncertain goals should be set in the middle. This will enable you to set the correct challenge level to maximize effort.
  • Some research shows that for very complex tasks, goal-setting can hinder effectiveness. This is because complex tasks are cognitively demanding in the beginning and can be frustrating because you can't perform adequately. To add on more tasks can impair your performance.