Understand the Real Value of Tasks
The basic approach to time management is setting goals, preparing a to-do list based on the set goals, ranking the to-do list in order of importance or other priority value, and scheduling the implementation of tasks. Very often, implementing tasks requires trade-offs vis-a-vis the importance and the urgency of the task. Such methods allow making good use of available time, but does ensure its wise use. Managing time wisely depends on understanding the true value of each task, and remaining flexible enough to seize the opportunities as they come, while still holding to plan.
When prioritizing, seek the end purpose and the true value of any task. For instance, processing ten orders in a home office, while washing the dishes, and updating personal finances within a span of six hours might count as efficiency, disrupting this schedule to spend one hour following up a social networking lead might count as distraction.
Efficiency however does not always equate with good-use. If one aims to earn $10,000 a month, and the present home office job fetches $5,000 a month, then spending the entire time to complete job targets for the $5,000 job is not wise, even if efficient. The wise move is to seek better or additional jobs to achieve the target of $10,000. Accessing social networking becomes a wise move if it provides opportunity for such a better job, but doing so by neglecting the $5,000 job targets and other planned tasks is one the other extreme. Similarly, doing household chores simultaneous to accomplishing work targets may be efficient but not necessarily wise, if the cost of hiring a domestic help as $20 an hour and the remuneration for taking up additional assignments or overtime in home office is $30 an hour.
Avoid procrastination, resist the temptation to succumb to distractions such as online games and unscheduled snacking, and pace activities to suit natural flow or biological rhythm. These tips allow elimination of disruptions and ensure smooth home office work.
Also consider the external environment or the “other party” when scheduling tasks. For instance, avoid paying utility bills over the counter during the peak lunch hour when everyone is out of their office. Rather visit the utility office a couple of hours later and avoid the long queue. Similarly, contacting clients when online, to receive instant feedback and approval, saving time having to wait for email replies.
Understanding how to manage your time more wisely requires mastery of the above two guiding principles of real value of tasks and optimizing schedules. This allows proper utilization of various time management methods, such as:
- ABC Analysis that rank tasks into four categories: urgent and important, important, but not urgent, and neither important nor urgent
- Pareto Principle or applying the 80-20 rule to boost productivity. 80 percent of the tasks take only 20 percent of available resources, and can be executed in a simpler way
- Eisenhower method of placing all tasks in a quadrant of important/unimportant and urgent/not urgent
- POSEC method, or Prioritizing by defining life by goals, Organizing things such as family and finance that require regular doing, Streamlining, or doing unpleasant tasks, Economizing or doing things such as socializing that are pleasurable to do but not important and contributing by paying attention to thinks that make a difference.
- Franklin Covey’s FOCUS that stresses on setting priorities and planning future tasks based on what contributes to one’s goals and values
Ordinary people spend time, considering it as a resource. Great people use time, considering it as an asset and an investment.
Source: Author’s experience