Einstein’s theory of relativity states that time is not as constant as everyday life suggests, but in project management his theory (while true in science) is irrelevant. For you see, there is 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week whichever way you cut it – and there is absolutely nothing we can do about that.
Time is precious. We cannot earn time, nor can we turn back the clocks. But you know what we can do? We can manage our time better.
There are a number of time management tools and techniques that can enable you to manage your time better at work and even at home. You can get many more activities done today, instead of postponing them to tomorrow with the right tools and techniques. Thing is, most people are struggling to manage their time effectively, which can be quite stressful experience, therefore, it is vital to manage it well. Here is some of the best time management tools and techniques to get you started:
The 80/20 rule or Pareto Principle is a very helpful concept for time management. The short of the principle is that the vital 20% of your activities account for 80% of your results. Whereas, the other 80% of the activities account only for the outstanding 20% of the results.
What this means, simply, is stop wasting your time! Whether you are at work managing a project or working on a specific venture in your personal life, you should prioritise and concentrate your efforts on the vital 20% of the activities that will bring you the desired results. The other 80% likely still need to be completed, but attention here should be minimal to maximise results and value.
This one is simple – you cannot do everything yourself. Delegate activities to your team members or other individuals depending on the situation. It will enable them to develop themselves and become more engaged as they will feel trusted to accomplish the required tasks. Even if you believe you can do something better – delegate, it will save yourself a bundle of time and will be beneficial for people you have delegated to.
If your employer, colleague or friend comes to you with an unrealistic request or you simply do not have the time to help them, say no. There are a number of polite ways of saying No. Saying No is vital to effectively manage your time, so say it.
Be outcome (results) driven
Projects come thick and fast in the world of business. Things get done, projects get ticked off and before you know it you find yourself obsessed by the task. You know, the thing right in front of you – not the outcome ahead.
To be outcome driven, you have got to make sure you have the clearly defined goal ahead and constantly remind about it yourself. Ask yourself: What are the goals for the project you are running at work? Are all of the activities aligned to the goals you are trying to achieve? Are you concentrating on the vital 20% of the activities required (the 80/20 rule)? The idea is that you need to work towards the outcomes you are trying to achieve – do not get carried away by the tasks in your to-do lists, half of them may not bring any value to your goals.
Be organised (5S)
5S stands for Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain. It is a tool for organising the work spaces in a way that enables effective and efficient working environment. In short, the principle of 5S is keeping the work space organised. The example of applied 5S to the office drawer is presented on the right.
Despite this tool’s simplicity it is proven to save people and companies a huge amount of time. Take the opportunity to organise your office desk and start saving time!
Get off your phone
Smartphones are great for self-empowered education and accessing useful content on the move, but they are also the worst for eating up your time. If you cannot help yourself when you go on your phone (maybe YouTube is your thing, or Reddit) just do not go on it. And if you feel tempted, get off it. Trust us, you will save yourself hours a week.
Stop multi-tasking (yes, really!)
Multi-tasking prevents effective time management; it is a trick we play on ourselves to believe we are getting more done. In fact, when we multi-task our productivity tends to drop by as much as 40%.
It is far more efficient to put your efforts and time into one thing. Switching back and forth between tasks is a false economy – studies show people lose a lot of time. So, next up on your to-do list should be one thing, not two.
There are many more tools and techniques for effective time management, which may be particularly useful for specific projects or ventures. If you are interested to find out more, Project Management certifications cover a wide-range of such techniques in a project management context, however, they can also be applied to your personal ventures in your everyday life.