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Everyone interprets the principles of time management differently. Some reduce them to three key points: prioritize, plan, structure tasks. Others roll out more than a dozen principles of varying degrees of importance. The number does not matter, what matters is laid the meaning.
The most important thing in time management, as silly and simple as it may sound, is learning how to manage time. When the basics of this difficult science will be mastered, you can already move on to more complex tasks - optimization of management. On how to understand and accept the basic principles of time management, stop being afraid of hours and move with the time to a polite but confident "you", you will learn from our material.
Probably all of us are familiar with the situation in which we are stressed by the lack of time, burning deadlines and the urgent need to constantly rush to finish at least some part of the daily activities and work projects.
And each time we promise ourselves that from now on we will start to plan all tasks carefully and in advance, and maybe even redo all of them at once. Which way should we take to work as productively as possible: sequentially, one task at a time, or doing several things at once?
Let's recall in which situation we are especially concerned about our own efficiency? When deadlines are burning for all important tasks, emails and messengers are flooded with new emails and unread messages, and the phone is ringing off the hook with endless calls. It is under such circumstances that we usually want to work even harder and faster, and our brains are already struggling to concentrate even on priority tasks.
Brain oversaturation occurs when the brain receives too much information in a short period of time. A feeling of chaos occurs because of the need to react to all the available "inputs" almost simultaneously. In this case, the brain itself creates additional turmoil in the form of proactive and reactive thoughts.
Scientists from Britain in a recent study came to the conclusion that in the last 600 years the brain has not changed at all: the left hemisphere is still responsible for logical thinking and the right - for feelings, the frontal lobes control working memory, and the occipital part is responsible for visual perception.
The same British scientists proved that a person is able to concentrate on no more than 9 factors at most. Anything beyond that is instantly perceived by the brain as a danger, and as a result it increases the production of adrenaline and blocks logical thinking. In our caveman ancestors, this reaction was the basis of survival: when encountering wild predators, humans would flee or attack the dangerous beast under the influence of adrenaline.
Nowadays, the brain works in exactly the same way, and its reaction to threats is absolutely identical. When we take on a big project, we try our best to cover all the available information field at once, but the brain, by its nature, is unable to do so. As a result, we feel tired, anxious, frustrated, and irritated, even when the workday is long over.
The realization that we are not being productive pushes us to overwork, but in most cases this only makes things worse. Overworking is only effective in situations where it is temporary. If we begin to work at full stretch on a permanent basis, it drastically reduces our productivity, and we are no longer able to control the situation and allocate our work time effectively. That is how we come to workaholism.
Workaholism is a disease that periodically affects almost all of us. There are two main reasons for its appearance: hyperresponsibility and adrenaline addiction to the accumulation of problems (a person creates a large number of problems for himself, in order to heroically defeat them at the next release of adrenaline in the blood).
Any preschooler today knows that time management is time management. Anyone who has managed to master the principles and tools of time management is able to effectively manage his time, productively plan his own working day (week, month and even year), and can distribute all current tasks by priority.
But his most important skill is that he clearly knows how to get more done in the same unit of time - that is, how to devote less time to work but still accomplish many more tasks.
Nikolay Vvedensky, a famous Russian physiologist, argued that "we get tired and weary not because we work too much, but because we work badly, work disorganizedly, and work ineffectively. Probably everyone has noticed this: if the working day is not clearly planned by tasks, we are constantly taking on one task and then another, we can not concentrate for a long time on a particular task and as a result, by the end of the day we realize that nothing worthwhile has been done for the day.
Let's look at this situation with specific examples. Suppose we have two schoolchildren. One of them, coming home after school, stretches the process of doing homework for several hours, because he is constantly distracted by games and other useless things. The other concentrates as much as possible on lessons and copes with them in just an hour, freeing up the remaining time for a walk or a rest. Which of them has mastered the principles of effective time management?
Let's go further in our examples. Time passed, the boys graduated from high school and became business owners. Each of them has several operating firms, many subordinates, and dozens of daily tasks that need to be solved in working time mode. The first of them, out of an old habit, is constantly distracted by non-work tasks, procrastinating, and then in a hurry trying to solve everything at once and, as a consequence, failing to do anything.
After a while he comes to professional burnout, because absolutely no one in this world is capable of working at the limit of his abilities in 24/7 mode. The second, on the contrary, has put all work issues and tasks on stream, so he can afford to devote only a few hours a day to work, without losing the quality of performance of the tasks.
Time management techniques help to effectively distribute work and control the amount of time spent on tasks, which ultimately leads to career growth and personal development.
These techniques are based on the following components:
All these techniques are described in many books devoted to this topic. The most famous and useful of them are: "Hard Time Management" by D. Kennedy, "How to Get Things In Order" by D. Allen, "Work Less, Have More Time" by C. Glisson, "To Hell with Everything! Get On and Do It" by R. Branson.
Quite a few people today still treat with distrust the ability to effectively organize their own time. This is due to the fact that society has a lot of misconceptions about time management. Below we will try to refute the most common of them.
Of course, time moves by the laws of the universe, and no one is able to influence it. Time-management is the science of managing yourself, your decisions and actions.
This phrase is usually said by those who have used a single time-management technique, received no results, and, without trying other techniques, made the general conclusion that the system does not work. Also, those who do not motivate themselves enough, set vague tasks or prioritize them incorrectly often come to this misconception.
Effective time management is not based on the desire to do more things, but on the ability to identify the most important tasks and work exclusively on them without being distracted by extraneous tasks and controlling your habits in order to achieve maximum productivity.
This misconception is obliged to its appearance first training on time-management: they were originally advised to plan every minute of his time. Now the emphasis is on concentrating on one thing and eliminating all distractions.
Another misconception. All methods and techniques are aimed at effective planning and achieving goals. And any person sets goals for himself, regardless of whether he is late for work or not.
Undoubtedly, all people are different: there are highly motivated people, there are people with a serious self-discipline, but there are also those for whom it is very difficult to organize their own time. Procrastination is a psychological phenomenon. And it is possible to cope with it. And with it, by all means, it is necessary to struggle. But do not go to extremes in their attempts: some people so zealously and persistently try to apply the methods of time management in life, that turn all of its tools and principles upside down.
Success is always based on the specific decisions you make. You can be a pro at organizing your own time, but if you prioritize tasks that bring little to nothing, you will not succeed.
Once again we are reminded that everyone is different. Some people benefit from one technique, others from another. Universal techniques that work equally well for everyone does not exist. And this applies to everything, not just time management.
Miracles do not happen, time-management will not increase the number of hours in your day. But it will definitely help get things done on time by focusing on tasks and lack of distractions.
Be sure to outline a to-do list for the day and fix it in writing - that way the brain remembers and assimilates information most effectively. The ideal is to plan the exact time for each task.
As a result, you will have a daily step-by-step instruction to help you understand how and when to do all the things planned for the day.
Large tasks always scare us with their volume, psychologically we tend to postpone their implementation to later, because we are afraid of their magnitude and do not always understand where to start. If you divide a large task into several smaller ones, there is a clear structure and a coherent plan of action - and it is not scary to start. You won't even notice how quickly and productively you'll get to the final result, performing the task after the task.
Every day on your to-do list, make the most important thing (or task) a priority. Focus all of your power and resources on it. Start doing things with it, and throughout the day, working on smaller, ongoing tasks, continually return to the main task. Your goal is to have it done by the end of the day.
Allocate for yourself the most intense and intense work some certain hours during which you will not be distracted by anything and during which those around you are also forbidden to distract you. Train your subordinates not to touch you during this time.
And do not take on extraneous tasks yourself: do not answer the phone, do not read e-mails, do not waste time answering messages in messengers - these are things that tend to eat up several hours of your time every day. The ideal is to allocate thirty minutes in the morning, afternoon and evening for these activities and try not to go beyond the established limit.
Any goal you set should be clearly stated, specific, relevant, and realistic to achieve within a given time frame.
Make a distinction between the goals: "I want to be promoted" - "I want to be promoted next semester" - "I want to be promoted next semester by taking a professional development course" - "I want to be promoted next semester by taking a professional development course and implementing the knowledge-based website optimization project that I'm currently developing.
Which goal do you think will really work and motivate you to take action?
Always try to set a few more goals than you can meet, or set deadlines much earlier than you originally planned. For example: to introduce a new product to the catalog in two months, not six months. The goal is set - there are no obstacles. Even if you suddenly do not have time to meet the deadline, you can always go back, but in most cases, the excitement will take its toll, and you will make every effort to achieve the goal.
Clear plans and strict deadlines are at the heart of most time-management principles. But in any business, unforeseen circumstances can arise. For example, a supplier has delayed a shipment delivery or a key employee quit in the midst of an important project.
To ensure that you always have the ability to control such situations, do not set minimum deadlines for the largest tasks, always leave yourself a small time margin in terms of time in case there is a need to deal with force majeure.
Even doing small daily tasks, always keep the most important goals in mind. Analyze the task on which you are currently working. If it contributes to the main goal, then you are on the right track. If not - adjust it.
No one is indispensable - remember that. Even if you are absolutely sure that no one will do better than you, it's not true. This is exactly why you hired subordinates - to delegate current tasks and cases to authorized employees.
As a manager, you should be doing global things: business planning, developing strategies and tactics, setting long-term goals and plans, and looking for opportunities to grow and expand the business. Free up your time to do this by delegating all current affairs to your subordinates.
Know how to say "no."
This is one of the basic principles of time management. Learn to say "no" to impractical, useless and unprofitable cases. They are destructive not only for the manager, but also for the business as a whole. Therefore, boldly refuse all unprofitable proposals without exception.
Working 24/7 manager is a time bomb not only for the firm's employees, but also for himself. It is impossible to work on a permanent basis at the limit of his abilities, if you neglect high-quality and proper rest.
Do not forget about your personal life, arrange a weekend, allow yourself a few times a week to relax and do your favorite thing, no matter how useless it may seem to you. This will help you distract yourself, reset your brain, and restore your physical and mental strength. The most pleasant bonus of a quality vacation is that your productivity will skyrocket.
Live by your own biorhythms, in harmony with your mind and body. There is no sense to get up at 6:30 am if you are an owl, your productivity will go to zero at least till the afternoon. If you are a company manager or your work allows you to adjust your work schedule to your biorhythms, take advantage of it. If you work perfectly well and with pleasure at two o'clock in the morning - it's your right, work.
One of the basic principles of time management, perfectly helps to defeat procrastination. If you do not want to start a certain task, try to start by devoting only ten to fifteen minutes to it.
From a psychological point of view, such a tactic is very successful: a person forms the feeling that it is he who controls the situation, because he retains the right to change his mind. Under such conditions, he ceases to see compulsion to perform the task, so it becomes much easier to work.
This technique is the opposite of the previous one. It is based on the fact that the smallest and simplest tasks are performed first thing in the morning, so that later during the day you don't get distracted by trifles, but devote time to work on major projects.
The method of autofocus suggests that you write down all the tasks and tasks into a single list, go through it with your eyes, point by point, and choose a task that you want to do right now. If you can cope with it in the current working day, cross it out of the list, if not, move it to the end and choose the task again, starting over from the first item.
These include techniques for completing tasks on a set timer. They help improve your overall efficiency in completing tasks, train concentration and willpower, assess your time correctly, and control your own expectations.
If you want to follow these techniques, remember that breaks are just as important as concentrated work. In order for these techniques to produce successful results, you need to rest for the allotted time and then continue working on the tasks for a set period of time.
This technique is great for distributing tasks and workload among employees and meeting set deadlines.
In the classic version, the method is implemented in the form of a table with three columns: "Must do", "In hand", "Done". The number of columns and their names are variable and can vary depending on the specifics of your company and the projects you are working on.
Initially, absolutely all tasks fall into the first column. As soon as someone starts working on a certain task, it is moved to the second column. Completed tasks are moved to the third column.
This methodology makes it possible to clearly assess the progress of current tasks, as well as the workload and productivity of the employees performing them.
The methodology invented by the thirty-fourth president of the United States of America is based on the distribution of all current and upcoming tasks and cases into four categories in a matrix depending on their priority and timing:
Priority and Urgent Tasks - To Do. These are tasks with clear deadlines that must be done. If they are not done, there will be negative consequences. For example, coordinate new packaging for goods, approve vacation schedules, pick up your child from daycare, and so on.
Priority and non-urgent tasks - put them in the plan. These are tasks without clear deadlines that you need for your personal and professional development. You should plan them too, so that you don't lose sight of them in the general mass of current and more important tasks. For example, to enroll in a refresher course, to go to a master class on drawing and so on.
Delegate non-priority and non-urgent tasks. All simple, routine tasks and tasks that do not require high qualifications and special professional skills should be delegated to your subordinates. In this case you will have free time to solve global problems. For example, you can easily delegate the organization of mailing lists and blogging to your employees.
Remove non-priority and non-urgent tasks. This includes all activities that do not bring any benefit and do not contribute to the achievement of global objectives. As a rule, they take up a lot of time, so you need to control them or eliminate them completely. For example, stop wasting time on scrolling through social networks or watching TV - you will be surprised at how quickly and noticeably your productivity will increase.
Time is an expensive, meaningful and irreplaceable value for a person. It cannot be bought in stores, filled up through ATMs or saved up for bonuses. So you should not waste it and spend it on useless, unprofitable things. Managing your own time does not limit your freedom, it creates it.
Planning is equally important for absolutely everyone: from housewives taking care of children to executives of large corporations. A thoughtful approach to organizing your own work and personal time helps to free up time that can be spent on living a vibrant, interesting and fulfilling life, filled not only with work feats, but also with life itself.