Time management – Tips & Tricks

Time management is something all of us struggle with.

I put this post together from a series of lectures by Randy Pausch, a Professor at Carnie Mellon, the many time management books and seminars that I have read/attended plus some nuggets thru my own experience.

Randy Pausch was a brilliant professor and presenter from CMU. He was diagnose with Pancreatic Cancer and was given only a few monthly to live. He did a series of lectures, which is called “the last lecture” mainly sharing his wisdom on what’s important in life and how to manage time (in his case) what time he had left.

We all have a million things we want to do. We have to juggle our career (relationships with boss, peers, clients), personal life (friends, loved ones, family), spiritual (aligning values), mental (feed the brain thru experiences, books etc..), finances (making a living, managing investments), physical (fitness, health).

For me, I want a balanced life. I want to be able to juggle all these things equally well. Do I succeed? Sometimes yes, sometime no.

Also time management is about getting things done in all the above aspects so you can maximize your fun. Fun is different things to different people.

Lets talk about work, career, but you can apply this to other aspects of our lives too.

Ask yourself this:

Why am I doing this?

What is the goal?

What do I need to do to succeed?

What happens if I choose not to do it?

Opportunity Cost – Know the value of your time. How much is your time worth? Think like a doctor or lawyer. What is your hourly charge? We work approximately 2000 hours per year. $100K salary/2000hrs = $50/hr. Ask yourself. Would you waste $50 bucks on the next non productive activity you are embarking on or the person you are meeting that is taking up your precious time to just chin wag?

80/20 rule – most of what we do (all activities are deemed important at that time) everyday at work, do not amount to anything significant, there are so many factors we cannot control. Its the 20% that produce 80% of the desired results. So, I have learnt to focus on things I can control. Be focused about things you can have an influence. Focus on productive things.

Planning – fail to plan and you plan to fail, that’s the old saying. Sure plans change. But you can’t change a plan if you haven’t got a plan in the first place. So improve your chance for a better out come. Plan ahead.

Avoid long emails, either discuss in person or use the phone/Skype – I am a big advocator of face to face/verbal communication compared to email. Much much more personable, much much more effective.

Use technology – keep track of your appointments and notes via your smart phones. Don’t use your brain matter to remember things. If you are like me, I have a memory like a sieve. Save it for fun creative things.

Creative time – got to have it or you become adrone/robot. I realize I come up with the best ideas in the shower and while I am walking. When I am in need of ideas my water bill goes up or I go for 2-hour walks. Have a diary handy next to the bed. Write your ideas down.

Peak times/Dead time – we all have our peaks and dead times. I am a morning person and a night person. People that know me, know that well. That’s how I am wired.  So I get to my important interesting things where I need maximum focus in the morning. My dead time is between 2pm to 3pm. My brain just goes into a comatose mode. So, if you have a meeting with me at 2pm to 3pm be prepared to look into my glazed eyes. Lights are on but nobody’s home eyes.

Interruptions – when its focus time, prime time turns off facebook, emails pop ups, msn, skype, twitter feeds. All off. If people unexpectedly show up for a chat, tell them, hey I only got 5 mins. Good thing is you can always extend if the conversation is interesting enough. If not just end it.

Procrastination – we all suffer from it. You have been lectured by your parents, teachers since you were a kid on it. I just catch myself being lazy and motivate myself to get off my lazy bum. Eat that big ugly frog first. Often its not as scary, big or ugly once you have acted on it.

Delegation – if you delegate you must give responsibility and authority. Be specific on what to do, timing, reward or punishment.

Photo courtesy of Tag Heuer


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