“Time waits for no man”. That is a common saying that many of us know quite well. The very concept of time management is to help us plan to achieve certain goals whether short-term or long-term goals. Many students, professionals, or people in general have poor time management skills. Today, I will be giving you some few tips on how to manage your time effectively.
This tip is based on Parkinson’s law which states that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. This simply means that the more time you have, the more time used in completion of any work and vice versa. We usually have the tendency to underestimate our work, thinking that as a deadline approaches, we can finish on time which is sometimes not the case.
We can trick our minds and set deadlines for ourselves to complete our work even faster. The way this works is by setting incentives. For example, you can reward yourself with your favorite meal, movie, or activity upon completion of your task, or you can set a punishment for yourself when you fail to complete a task on time, like taking a lap around the house. This trick only works when you set your mind to it.
This is similar to sprints or workouts. It requires you to work as furiously as you can for twenty-five minutes and rewarding yourself with a five-minute break. This will help establish good habits for blocking out distractions and pushing ahead on difficult tasks. You can always turn your phone off or switch to airplane mode. You can use this technique to get ahead in different tasks. For example, spending time on task A for twenty-five minutes, take a break and spend another twenty-five minutes on task B.
The Pareto principle states that 80% of your results come from just 20% of your effort. That simply means that the tasks that make the most of your results at the end of the day, mainly come from the effort put into that specific task. Your tasks have a specific value or impact or priority. You can determine the scale of the priority of your work using the following steps:
- Write out your to-do list. Below is an example of my to-do list for the day.
- Add two columns next to your list and name them priority and effort.
- Staring from the priorities, rank your tasks from 1-4, 1 being the most and 4 being the least. Rank them in an order you feel best.
- Then do the same for the effort. Rank your tasks based on the effort it will take you to complete each task.
Now you have your tasks ranked based on their priorities and based on the effort you need to put in to complete them. I bet your asking; how do I make sense of all this? It is simple. You need to draw a box and divide it into four quadrants like in the diagram below.
Make a graph like diagram outside the box, including your negative and positive signs. On one axis write down priority and on the other, effort. Proceed to name your quadrants based on their locations on the graph.
The quadrants will include:
- High priority, low effort (1st rank)
- High priority, high effort (2nd rank)
- Low priority, low effort (3rd rank)
- Low priority, high effort (4th rank)
From your first table, you should be able to fit each task into a quadrant. For example, cleaning my room is my highest priority and it would take me the least effort to do. That means that it will fall under the high priority, low effort quadrant. “Completing chapter one” task is of the least priority but would take me some effort to complete, therefore it will fall under the low priority, high effort quadrant. Floor plans for client would take the most effort but its not of much priority, while writing a blog post is of some priority but it would not take much effort to complete. Ranking these two would be done based on effort as that is the essence of the pareto principle, therefore the former would fall under the high priority, high effort quadrant and the latter will fall under the low priority, low effort quadrant.
From this, you can now generate a new to-do list that shows you what tasks to do first. My new to-do list would be to clean my room first, draw the floor plans for my client, write my blog post, and finally complete my chapter one.
I personally like this principle as it helped me a lot when I was doing studio projects. You can have a list of sheets you would want to complete in a day, but you may end up not completing them because you placed much value on a sheet that isn’t as important as the rest and you may end up not reaching your goal for that day.
These tips are just a few tips out of an ocean of ideas, but these 3 are what I have tested out and found to be effective. I came across these tips on YouTube and you can watch the full video here. You can always search for more or develop your own techniques. Thank you for reading, be safe and stay tuned for more posts.