Only when we focus our energies can we expect results from our efforts. Focus comes from an acute awareness of “now or never”, that the opportunity only presents itself in a fraction of a second and that we have to remain very alert to catch it.
Focus means to be well aware of which direction we want to move in, but very often we have not even considered that when we start acting. By first deciding the direction, and having thought through what you want to achieve in the end, you are then able to pick out just a few of the actions, those that support that aim. You will then find that the effect is much greater with less use of our mental and physical energy.
An analogy (comparison) in this regard is the suns rays, when you focus them through a magnifying glass, they generate intense heat energy. Similarly when we focus our energies on a clear purpose, our life’s activities become filled with power.
Time management is the act or process of exercising conscious control over the amount of time spent on specific activities,
especially to increase efficiency or
productivity. Time management may be aided by a range of skills, tools, and techniques used to manage time when accomplishing specific tasks, projects and goals. This set encompasses a wide scope
of activities, and these include planning, allocating, setting goals, delegation,analysis of time spent, monitoring, organizing, scheduling, and prioritizing.
Initially, time management referred to just business or work activities, but eventually
the term broadened to include personal activities as well. A time management system is a designed combination of processes, tools, techniques, and methods.
Usually time management is a necessity in any project development as it determines
the project completion time and scope.
2 Time management and related
2.1 Conceptual Effect on Labor
3 Personal Time Management
3.1 Task list
3.1.1 Task list organization
3.2 Software applications
3.3 Attention Deficit Disorder
188.8.131.52 Dwelling on the lists
184.108.40.206 Rigid adherence
4 Techniques for setting priorities 4.1 ABC analysis
4.2 Pareto analysis
4.3 The ‘Eisenhower’ Method
4.4 POSEC method
6 Further reading
Stephen R. Covey has offered a categorization scheme for the hundreds of time management approaches that they reviewed: First generation:
Reminders based on clocks and watches, but with computer implementation possible;can be used to alert a person when a
task is to be done.
Planning and preparation based on calendar and appointment books; includes setting goals.
Third generation: Planning,
prioritizing, controlling (using a
personal organizer, other paper-
based objects, or computer or PDA-
based systems) activities on a daily
basis. This approach implies spending some time in clarifying values and priorities. Fourth generation: Being efficient and
proactive using any of the above tools;places goals and roles as the
controlling element of the system and favors importance over urgency.
Time management literature can be paraphrased as follows:
“Get Organized” – paperwork and task triage
“Protect Your Time” – insulate, isolate,delegate.
“Set gravitational goals” – that attract actions automatically
“Achieve through Goal management
Goal Focus” – motivational emphasis ”
Work in Priority Order” – set goals and prioritize
“Use Magical Tools to Get More Out of Your Time” – depends on when
“Master the Skills of Time
“Go with the Flow” – natural rhythms, Eastern philosophy
“Recover from Bad Time Habits” – recovery from underlying psychological problems, e.g. procrastination.
More unconventional time usage
techniques, such as those discussed in “Where Did Time Fly,” include concepts that can be paraphrased as “Less is More,”
which de-emphasizes the importance of
squeezing every minute of your time, as suggested in traditional time management schemes. In recent years, several authors have
discussed time management as applied to the issue of digital information overload, in particular, Tim Ferriss with “The 4 hour workweek”, and Stefania Lucchetti with “The Principle of Relevance”
Time management and related concepts.
Time management has been considered as subsets of different concepts such as: Project management.
Time Management can be considered as a project management subset and is
more commonly known as project planning and project scheduling. Time Management has also been identified as one of the core functions identified in project management.
Attention Management relates to the management of cognitive resources, and in particular the time that humans allocate their mind (and organizations
the minds of their employees) to
conduct some activities.
Personal knowledge management: see below (Personal time
management). Conceptual Effect on Labor Professor Stephen Smith, of BYUI, is among recent sociologists that have shown that
the way workers view time is connected to social issues such as the institution of family, gender roles, and the amount of labor by the individual.
Personal Time Management.
Time management strategies are often associated with the recommendation to set personal goals. These goals are recorded
and may be broken down into a project, an action plan, or a simple task list. For individual tasks or for goals, an importance rating may be established, deadlines may
be set, and priorities assigned.
This process results in a plan with a task list or a schedule or calendar of activities. Authors may recommend a daily, weekly, monthly or other planning periods associated with different scope of planning or review. Thisis done in various ways, as follows.
Time management also covers how to eliminate tasks that don’t provide the individual or organization value.
Task list A task list (also to-do list or things-to-do) is a list of tasks to be completed, such as chores or steps toward completing a
project. It is an inventory tool which serves as an alternative or supplement to memory. Task lists are used in self-management, grocery lists, business management, project management, and software development. It may involve more than one list. When one of the items on a task list is
accomplished, the task is checked or crossed off. The traditional method is to write these on a piece of paper with a pen or pencil, usually on a note pad or clip- board.
Writer Julie Morgenstern suggests “do’s
and don’ts” of time management that include: Map out everything that is important, by making a task list Create “an oasis of time” for one to control Say “No” Set priorities Don’t drop everything Don’t think a critical task will get done in spare time.
Numerous digital equivalents are now available, including PIM (Personal information management) applications and
There are also several web- based task list applications, many of which are free.
Task list organization
Task lists are often tiered. The simplest tiered system includes a general to-do list (or task-holding file) to record all the tasks
the person needs to accomplish, and a daily to-do list which is created each day by
transferring tasks from the general to-do list.
Task lists are often prioritized: An early advocate of “ABC”
prioritization was Alan Lakein . In his system “A” items were the most important (“A-1” the most important within that group), “B” next most important, “C” least important.
A particular method of applying the ABC method assigns “A” to tasks to be done within a day, “B” a week, and “C” a month. To prioritize a daily task list, one either
records the tasks in the order of
highest priority, or assigns them a number after they are listed (“1” for highest priority, “2” for second
highest priority, etc.) which indicates in which order to execute the tasks. The latter method is generally faster, allowing the tasks to be recorded more quickly.
A completely different approach which argues against prioritising altogether was put forward by British author Mark Forster in his book “Do It Tomorrow and Other Secrets of Time
This is based on the idea of operating “closed” to-do lists,
instead of the traditional “open” to-do list. He argues that the traditional never-ending to-do lists virtually guarantees that some of your work will be left undone. This approach advocates getting all your work done, every day, and if you are unable to achieve it helps you diagnose where you are going wrong and what needs to change.Software applications
Modern task list applications may have built-in task hierarchy (tasks are composed of subtasks which again may contain subtasks), may support multiple methods of filtering and ordering the list of
tasks, and may allow one to associate arbitrarily long notes for each task. In contrast to the concept of allowing the
person to use multiple filtering methods, atleast one new software pr oduct
additionally contains a mode where the software will attempt to dynamically determine the best tasks for any given moment. Many of the software products for time
management support multiple users. It allows the person to give tasks to other users and use the software for communication. In law firms, law practice management software may also assist in time management. Task list applications may be thought of as lightweight personal information manager or project management software.
Attention Deficit Disorder Excessive and chronic inability to manage time effectively may be a result of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).
Diagnostic criteria include: A sense of underachievement, difficulty getting organized, trouble getting
started, many projects going
simultaneously and trouble with follow- through.
Prefrontal cortex: The prefrontal cortex is the most recently evolved
part of the brain. It controls the
functions of attention span, impulse
control, organization, learning from
experience and self-monitoring,
among others. Some authors argue that changing the way the prefrontalcortex works is possible and offers a solution.
Caveats Dwelling on the lists According to Sandberg,task lists “aren’t the key to productivity [that] they’re cracked up to be”. He reports an estimated “30% of listers spend more time managing their lists than[they do] completing what’s on the m”. This could be caused by procrastination by prolonging the planning activity. This is akin to analysis paralysis. As with any activity, there’s a point of diminishing returns. Rigid adherence Hendrickson asserts that rigid adherence to task lists can create a”tyranny of the to-do list” that forces one to “waste time on unimportant activities”.
Again, the point of diminishing returns applies here too, but toward the size of the task. Some level of detail must be taken for granted for a task system
to work. Rather than put “clean the
kitchen”, “clean the bedroom”, and
“clean the bathroom”, it is more efficient to put “housekeeping” and
save time spent writing and reduce the system’s administrative load (each task entered into the system generates a cost in time and effort to manage it, aside from the execution of the task). The risk of consolidating tasks, however, is that “housekeeping” in this example may proveoverwhelming or nebulously defined, which will either increase the risk of
procrastination, or a mismanaged project. Listing routine tasks wastes time. If you are in the habit of brushing your teeth every day, then there is no reason to put it down on the task list.!
The same goes for getting out of bed, fixing meals, etc. If you need to track routine tasks, then a standard list or chart may be useful, to avoid the procedure of manually listing these items over and over.
To remain flexible, a task system must allow for disaster. A disaster occurs constantly whether it is personal or business-related. A company must have a cushion of time ready for a disaster. Even if it is a small disaster, if no one made time for this situation, it can blow up bigger, causing the company to bankruptcy just because of poor time management.
To avoid getting stuck in a wasteful
pattern, the task system should also include regular (monthly, semi-annual,and annual) planning and system-evaluation sessions, to weed out inefficiencies and ensure the user is headed in the direction he or she truly desires.
If some time is not regularly spent on achieving long-range goals, the
individual may get stuck in a perpetual holding pattern on short-term plans, like staying at a particular job much longer than originally planned.
Techniques for setting
There are several ways to set priorities. ABC analysis A technique that has been used in business
management for a long time is the
categorization of large data into groups.
These groups are often marked A, B, and C
—hence the name. Activities are ranked upon these general criteria: A – Tasks that are perceived as being urgent and important, B – Tasks that are important but not urgent, C – Tasks that are neither urgent nor important. Each group is then rank-ordered in
priority. To further refine priority, some individuals choose to then force-rank all “B” items as either “A” or “C”. ABC analysis
can incorporate more than three groups. ABC analysis is frequently combined with Pareto analysis. Pareto analysis
This is the idea that 80% of tasks can be completed in 20% of the disposable time. The remaining 20% of tasks will take up 80% of the time. This principle is used to
sort tasks into two parts. According to this form of Pareto analysis it is recommended that tasks that fall into the first category be assigned a higher priority. The 80-20-rule can also be applied to increase productivity: it is assumed that
80% of the productivity can be achieved by doing 20% of the tasks. Similarly, 80% ofresults can be attributed to 20% of activity.
If productivity is the aim of time management, then these tasks should be prioritized higher. It depends on the method adopted to
complete the task. There is always a simpler and easy way to complete the task. If one uses a complex way, it will be time
consuming. So, one should always try to find out the alternate ways to complete each task.
The Eisenhower Method:
A basic “Eisenhower box” to help
evaluate urgency and importance.
Items may be placed at more precise points within each quadrant.
All tasks are evaluated using the criteria important/unimportant and urgent/not urgent and put in according quadrants.
Tasks in unimportant/not urgent are dropped, tasks in important/urgent are done immediately and personally, tasks in unimportant/urgent are delegated and
tasks in important/not urgent get an end date and are done personally. This method
is said to have been used by US President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and is outlined in a quote attributed to him: What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.
POSEC is an acronym for Prioritize by Organizing, Streamlining, Economizing and Contributing. The method dictates a template which
emphasizes an average individual’s
immediate sense of emotional and
monetary security. It suggests that by attending to one’s personal responsibilities first, an individual is better positioned to shoulder collective responsibilities. Inherent in the acronym is a hierarchy of
self-realization which mirrors Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of needs”.
1. Prioritize – Your time and define your life by goals.
2. Organizing – Things you have to accomplish regularly to be
successful. (Family and Finances)
3. Streamlining – Things you may not like to do, but must do. (Work
4. Economizing – Things you should do or may even like to do, but
they’re not pressingly urgent.
(Pastimes and Socializing)
5. Contributing – By paying attention to the few remaining things that make a difference. (Social Obligations).
(this Series of Task Management shall continue ….for, ”Organize” is a Key Concept, requiring pracrical basics)