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Prerequisites for Effective Time Management

Trying to apply time management tools without having prerequisite time management skills is unlikely to work effectively. The prerequisites are:

  • Awareness about time being a limited resource.
  • Arrangement and designing of goals, plans, schedules, and tasks for maximum time-efficiency.
  • Adaptation in your use of time, including adjustments and improvisation.

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    Steps To Improve Time Management

    The way to improve your Time Management skills requires us to figure out where to focus. This can be done by:

    • Getting an objective self-assessment done by your peers or boss, or establishing a baseline behavior to measure your performance against.
    • Understanding that it is your skills, not your personality or preferences that can be developed to provide the best results.
    • Identifying the key skill(s) that you need to prioritize, and avoiding spreading yourself too thin.

      The key factor to consider when developing awareness skills is that effectiveness (doing things well) is as important as efficiency (doing things fast).

      • Find which time of the day is your 'peak performance time.
      • Treat time as money, a limited resource, and create a 'time budget' for your to-do list.
      • Measure and evaluate the projected time vs the actual time taken.
      • Consider which of the tasks create follow-up tasks that take up your time later.
      • Take into consideration the 'opportunity cost' of spending time in an activity.

        Developing your arrangement skills isn't about managing your work, but about managing your life, taking control of it and structuring/arranging the work accordingly.

        • Prioritize your activities and obligations instead of simply making a list.
        • Learn to distinguish between urgent tasks, which may not be important, and important tasks that are significant and have real value.
        • Use a calendar app to plan out tasks and appointments, while making sure you have uninterrupted time for yourself.
        • Make realistic estimates of time allotted for completion of a task.
        • Break down a large goal into small goals if needed.

          Adaptation skills are tested/developed in high-pressure or challenging situations while maintaining one's calm.

          • Tie your time management behavior to your already established habits.
          • Short bursts of effort work best for overwhelming tasks and they also help avoid procrastination.
          • Track your time and to-do list with an App, and provide a detailed description in the reminder for important tasks, ensuring your future self doesn't ignore them.
          • Avoid social media and minimize all notifications during critical work time.
          • Create a contingency plan while you envision possible outcomes of the ongoing plan.

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            • Set deadlines to prioritize tasks with upcoming deadlines.
            • Focus on 20% of the tasks that bring 80% of results. 
            • Separate urgent from important. Urgent tasks require immediate action, whereas important tasks have more significant and long-term consequences. Prioritize tasks that are both urgent and important.
            • Learn to say “no”. Don’t hesitate to politely refuse tasks and activities that are irrelevant to your goals.

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            Failing to Keep a To-Do List

            The trick with using To-Do Lists effectively lies in prioritizing the tasks on your list. Many people use an A – F coding system (A for high priority items, F for very low priorities). 

            Make sure that you break large tasks or projects down into specific, actionable steps – then you won't overlook something important.

            Work Around Your Energy Levels

            Productivity is directly related to your energy level.

            Find your most productive hours — the time of your peak energy — and schedule Deep Work for those periods. Do low-value and low-energy tasks (also known as shallow work), such as responding to emails or unimportant meetings, in between those hours.