If there is one thing we can never get enough of, it’s time. In our youth, time seems to move slowly, with each year feeling like that of an entire era. And as we age, we feel as if it speeds up exponentially and without restraint.
Each and every one of us has exactly 168 hours a week at our disposal. Subtract the 56 hours we’d (hopefully) use for sleeping, and that gives us 112 hours. How we use that time and what we do or do not accomplish with it, is entirely up to us.
So how can we get the most from our 112-hour budget? How can we manage this finite resource to achieve the highest ROI? To offer some ideas, here are some time management tips from tech industry geeks.
Priit Kallas, Founder and Strategist at DreamGrow, carefully chooses what he focuses on with his limited amount of time:
“I use a 1-2-3 method. I plan one really important thing into my day, two other larger tasks and 3 or 4 smaller tasks. The most important task gets two 40-minute slots, two larger tasks get 40 minutes each, and the three or four smaller tasks share two 40-minute slots. The key is to plan 1 hour for each 40-minute time slot. Use the remaining 20 minutes for task switching, low priority activities and relaxing.”
Kallas also extols the value of single-tasking. Multitasking may have become the norm in recent years, but not without significant costs in productivity. It’s estimated that multi-taskers experience a 40 percent drop in productivity, take 50 percent longer to accomplish tasks, and make up to 50 percent more errors.
Daria Shualy, Marketer at daPulse, emphasizes the importance of managing your time, not your tasks:
- “Decide on the deadline first, then list the tasks that will fit into that timeframe. Not the other way around, which is make a list of all the tasks, then try to assess how long it will take. Think about it, if you only have two free hours, it’s quite easy to assess what will fit into that time slot.
- Break it down into smaller time units, not smaller tasks. Here’s an example: set the deadline for two months away, break that down into weeks, and figure out what will fit into each week. How does this make a huge difference? It’s actually easier to assess what you can do in one week, than how long a certain task will take over a period of time.
- Set meaningful inspection points to see if you’re going to meet the deadline. Each week is such a point. Because if you’re not going to complete what you planned for a week, that’s a clear indication that you’re not going to make the long-term deadline.
- Never push the deadline. Just don’t. That’s how you manage time instead of it managing you. See below what to do instead.
- Focus, push harder, prioritize to meet the deadline. The only way to always meet deadlines is to never push them. Stay focused, let everything that doesn’t help you reach the deadline drop.”
There are four things that stand out with these experts:
- Each of them sets priorities. They look at what they have to do and decide what the most important part of a project is. Too many times we fail to properly prioritize our tasks, simply jumping in and trying to tackle whatever happens to come along first. Next time, instead of tackling the project immediately, sit down and think about the most efficient way to best complete the task and map it out.
- Once both Kallas and Shualy determine their priorities in a given day, they are unrelenting in setting deadlines, as well as in allowing themselves a finite amount of time to achieve the task. Shualy even goes so far as to not allow anything to cause her to push back a deadline. That’s some serious determination.
- Shualy emphasizes the need to break down larger chunks of time into smaller pieces and use those as points to inspect the progress she makes to see if she’s on track and what adjustments she may need to make. This is another area where we sometimes miss the boat. We can become so preoccupied with the task at hand that we fail to step back and evaluate how much progress we’re making and if adjustments are required.
- Kallas includes time in his schedule for task-switching, low priority tasks and relaxing. No matter how organized or efficient we may be, our minds need time to switch from one task to another. We also need time to relax and catch our breath, especially when we’re involved in a high-stress task. Setting aside a few minutes to do just that, interspersed in our periods of productivity, can make a big difference in keeping us mentally sharp for the tasks down the road.
Each of us may only have 112 hours a week at our disposal. For those who effectively use it, however, those 112 hours will be a resource that will pay unending dividends.
Busy Driver Photo via Shutterstock