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“Time Management” The Skill of the Nano Age

Oct 29, 2010 by     18 Comments    Posted under: Time Management
 

"Do we need more time? Or do we need to be more disciplined with the time we have?" Kerry Johnson

Time management subject is an important subject. It is not only for IT consultants, rather it is for everyone. It became a core and career skill altogether. In current rapidly running events, information, and changes, it became crucial to find a way to accommodate all of those in the same 24-hours day. This 24-hours day did not change since God made the earth. The time allowed for an old man to cope with a change spanning multiple months (hundred of years ago) is the same amount of time allowed for us now to cope with a change spanning few hours.

In this post I will go swiftly (in order to save time of reader) through time management subject. In future posts, I will discuss specific topics around time management subject.

Time Management Definition

One of best definitions I encountered of time management is the following one, i.e., I highlighted key words in the definition: “working actively to create efficiency and effectiveness in a way that makes achieving your targeted results more likely.” This definition was mentioned in a short text book The Sunday Times, Successful Time Management.

The whole time management theme and techniques are around doing what is important and ignoring what is not. If we own a time machine that travels into future, we would have the ultimate time management selections of important things. However, all techniques are trying to maximize the likelihood of importance of selected activities.

Why Time Management is A Neglected Subject

There are several reasons behind this. In the absence of proper diagnostics, anyone can think he is really doing important things. Some of us would think that small amounts of time savings are negligible and will not count. Others would think that discussions and techniques about time management are theoretical discussions cannot be put into practice. Others are not aware of the nature of current age and they did not realize the real most precious asset in his life.

How to Improve Management of Time

I would summarize few methods and techniques of improving management of time:

  1. You cannot improve without measuring and identification of current situation.Technique: Use of time maps in order to map your daily utilization of time. This could be simply an Excel sheet with specific identified categories (not more than 10 categories). Do not measure with more accuracy than 30 minutes units otherwise it will be a tedious task. Run this measure for at least 2 weeks to cover most of your day types, e.g., working day, week-end, etc.
  2. Set Clear Objectives – life without objectives is worthless. Objectives give a meaning to life and provoke your passion and effort for achieving. Technique: Use SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timed) attributes for your objectives. You need to measure your progress from time to another.
  3. Set Priorities – This would make you focus on important things in order. Prioritize your objectives, activities, and assignments. Technique: Use of Pareto Rule (the famous 80/ 20 rule).
  4. Delegation – it is an art and it is an effective tool if it is utilized properly. Technique: Develop teams around you and build their skills. This would help a lot for later delegation.
  5. To-do lists – it is a powerful tool for organizing activities especially when combined with priority setting. Technique: use one of free to-do tools specially those storing your data in the cloud for easy access from anywhere at anytime. I would suggest using Toodledo.
  6. Avoid Time Wasters Technique: avoid ad-hoc internet surfing. Learn to say ‘No’ for unimportant tasks.  Another technique is to batch and group your tasks and activities.
  7. Avoid procrastination – the best time to do things is “as soon”. You will never find the suitable, uninterrupted time, and long enough to complete your task.
  8. Learn Productivity Tips– there are a lot of good resources for tips and hints that increase efficiency and speed of day-to-day activities. I would suggest few of them as Lifehacker, Addictive Tips, and Productivity501.
  9. Small Time Slots Utilization – small amounts of time counts when they are accumulated. Technique: Utilize commuting time to finalize an audio book. Utilize waiting time to read a book or maintain your to-do list.

The above is an overview highly summarized discussion. You can participate with your comments, tips, and techniques about the subject.

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18 Comments + Add Comment

  • SA,

    This is a FREE app for mind managing. It is not powerful as MindJet, but may be helpful – especially when comes as a free version 😉
    http://download.cnet.com/FreeMind/3000-2051_4-10076598.html?tag=mncol;1

    MindJet is here as a trial version. It is only for $349! ya balash !!http://download.cnet.com/Mindjet-MindManager/3000-18509_4-10069553.html?tag=mncol;1

     
    • Thanks for sharing that is nice – hopefully it could open the same MindJet format, MindJet viewer is free.

       
  • Hi every one,

    After sometime, I lost most of my motivation to achieve my goals, so I pay a visit to Mr. Google and he helped me with many articles talking about this subject.

    I liked the following two articles and I STRONGLY RECOMMEND them for reading
    (5 minutes reading can change your life):

    1. Get Off Your Butt: 16 Ways to Get Motivated When You’re in a Slump

    http://zenhabits.net/get-off-your-butt-16-ways-to-get-motivated-when-youre-in-a-slump/

    2. How To Be Motivated To Create The Life Of Your Dreams

    http://ezinearticles.com/?How-To-Be-Motivated-To-Create-The-Life-Of-Your-Dreams&id=35399

     
  • Howdy brothers,
    I think there is no limit to log our life experiences. Everytime you face some situation, you are to accumulate your conclusion about it. No matter if benifits are great or not, I believe you will need it. I prefer old fashion logging – manually I mean – in some cases, excel sheets in others cases, send mails to myself. What about a small database?! Come on! 🙂
    If talking about easiness of mapping our logged experience to new situations, I see it is relative; depends on how your mind is organized. If your mind is well organized, you will call the correct action in the correct place within the correct time. It is an innate talent polished by your real motivation to do, and supported by your effort to train yourself.
    “لا يلدغ المؤمن من جحر مرتين”
    why? cz you benefited from the first bite to avoid the second one.
    Hope useful …

     
    • Welcome Mahmoud to the cult!
      This is a good point of view. What really matters as you said is to be well-organized regardless of the tool. Everyday we can enhance tool. But the concept of being well-organized is crucial.

      Keep good work and rich comments.

       
  • I would like to talk about a point which I think is related to saving future time.

    Everyday people face different kinds of events like issues in work, making and maintaining relationships with others. Some events may be single-trial exam (like taking decisions in surgery), or it may accept multiple trials (like programming where you can change and retry), and some events may need fast solutions, or may accept some delay.

    In each event we make some effort in order to find solutions, we may search in books or ask some experts to collect some information which will help us to reach to solutions to the event.

    Suppose you face the event again after some years, you will remember that you had faced a similar or semi-similar event before, and try to ask yourself would it be acceptable to take the same effort and the same time to research and rethink in the same problem because you forgot it?

    I think we should keep track of the important events that we face in our life and our work, and I think the importance of the event comes from being difficult, the long time it took, or being urgent.

    So we should keep our experience from being lost. Oblivion is an enemy sometimes, so we must take care.

     
    • It is a very good question and well-written comment.

      Actually there are some of techniques you can still utilize. For example, I use a site called http://ohlife.com/

      Once you subscribe in this site, it will send you daily emails asking you :what is your day”. You can either reply with a post or ignore it.
      Once replied it will be archived in well-organized, timely sorted, and searcheable format. You can use this to enter important information you need in the future.

      I hope this would help.

       
    • For work jobs, we are using a tool (Issue Tracker) to log the issues (not necessarily be a problem, may be a change or general info…) that we face on daily basis. this is for our reference later on and maybe used as a change log for the product. When progressing in the issue we update it with solution found, hints used,..etc. this helps when we face the same problem again, we use our entries in this simple tool instead of searching again and again. I think this is an implementation to the same idea that Ahmed talking about, but more suitable for career level.

      But for life experience, I’m thinking about the level we can log in such subject. and the ease of mapping our logged experience to new situations. any ideas ?

       
      • you could find example in traveling to other countries. It may be helpful to keep information about the places you visited and the people you met. After period this information may be valuable to you or to others whom you know.

         
      • I remembered a good example of life events logging.. I have copied the diaries of Mahmoud Shehata’s Hajj. also the summary of Hajj required stuff from Mahmoud Amin. both are their logging of the event Hajj and I can now make use of them to minimize my preparation time for the event. I think this is a good implementation of what we are discussing 😉

        Regarding tools maybe used, believe or not, there was a vote in lifehacker.com about . Pen and paper was the winner while the nominees included the best software applications in this area!

         

  • Hello brothers – what do you think about the first point ? I like the concept of logging my activities and therefore identifying my time utilization and measuring my progress, that way is acceptable for me. but I don’t like setting deadlines for myself. I know it’s harder to measure the progress while there is no deadline but i feel deadlines is leading me to tension rather than motivation.

    Let me put an example to clarify it. Now, I want to get the PMP certification (Objective) but I’m not comfortable to put a deadline. While I can know my progress in achieving the objective by observing my reading in the PMPBoK (which I consider the major part in the objective’s leading tasks). this is an example.. you can apply it to other cases. It’s all about breaking your objective into some tasks and observe which tasks are done and which are not yet. then say: I finished 30%, 80%,… etc

    what do you think about that ? which do you follow ??

     
    • You have a respectful point of view. But allow me to give me some examples maybe I could convince your by logic 🙂

      First of all I support putting deadlines by heart.
      God created our life with deadlines. Everything around us has a life time, expiry date time, etc. There is nothing called “Indefinite” in reality. Even yourself you cannot accept somebody fixing something to you to work without deadline. Theories prove that successful goals are those associated with deadline. Edwin Locke in 1960s has a famous theory called Goal Setting Theory which has a fundamental element of having deadlines for clear goals.

      We did this perfectly while we were kids in school while deadlines are imposed on us. I beleive without self-discipline and self-imposed deadline we would have been studying grade-6 till now!!

      Achievement is strongly linked with deadlines. I do not know who supports and he opposes. I do not know if you are convinced or not. It does not matter really what matters that we think and express our thoughts clearly. Thanks for participation.

      Best Regards,
      Mohamed Abdel Moneim

       
  • I have one confession and one question:

    Confession:

    When I tried to write my objectives in life, I discovered that most of them were SMAR not SMAR(T), they have no dead times (T)!!!
    Also most of them are long term objectives and I did not review them since long time ago.

    I think every one should periodically review his objectives in life and keep measuring his progress to achieve them.

    Really I encourage every one to do the same and you will feel big positive changes in you life.

    Advices:
    – Check that “preserving the current status” is not one of your objectives because I believe in the equation:
    Current Status + Time = Current Status + Progress = Better Status

    – Aim High.

    Question:

    How do you archive information? And how do recall the forgotten ones?

    For example:
    I read a book related to a specific subject, and after few months I did not remember some information related to this subject. My problem is the time spent to remember the book name and even the page containing this information.

    Did you try writing summaries? How do you archive them?

    Thanks gentlemen for these great subjects which are really life changers.

    Ahmed Osman

     
    • This is really a set of good thoughts. It is worth to write your objectives down, review and add to them over time.

      for book and reading summaries. I keep a simple Excel sheet (for 3 years now) where I record every book and audio book I read or listened. Even I rank them and give them score from quality and benefit point of view. This helped me a lot in many cases to index what I read and jump directly to good hits.

      Moreover, I use mind maps software for book summaries. Every book I read I have a book summary for it. I summarize important ideas, formulas, and thoughts within those books. This is a more condensed organized way.

      I also have a subscription in a very good site for mind maps that you can share your ideas with the world http://www.biggerplate.com/

      You can try it. I hope I could answer your question.

      Best Regards,
      Mohamed Abdel Moneim

       
  • I think that the first thing we may suffer from is lack of time. so let’s create more time to vanish this fake excuse. The first important thing in my opinion is “Keeping things organized”. I guess this could save much time. Imagine how much time could be wasted if you can’t find the paper you supposed it was on your desk! or the time wasted because you had to make a second round shopping in the same market because you forgot buying some items in your shopping list!

    To save our precious time I encourage everybody to follow technology gadgets which became available almost all the time between our hands thanks to mobiles and smart phones. Although pen and paper is still in style when you’re ready to get things done, but I prefer the modern tools and utilities specially those smart applications that perfectly integrate with the cloud.

    Always use a to-do list to prioritize your tasks and to remind you with them on time. Make sure you always have access to them. Personally, when I’m picking a tool I prefer those tools which are working on multiple platforms and this is applied to online services also, there must be clients running on all my devices can use this service. Actually from my experience this makes it easy to switch from device to device swiftly and save my data from unpredictable disasters. It’s part of keeping things organized in my opinion.

    Now, if you successfully saved time from being wasted, you may face another problem in your time management. You may find that the saved time is scattered. to avoid that, return back to your to-do list and reorganize them. Find related tasks and do them in batches. related tasks could be grouped by place or persons. Tag your tasks with geographic location and people in action. Train yourself to review your tasks before you aim to do one of them. Find tasks that in near places or with same persons. can you do them all of them in one batch! alright, let’s do it! Instead of doing two tasks in two occasions you may do both in the same day and save more time in the second day. That’s would keep your saved time be uncluttered.

    Instead of one hour saved per day, you may find three or four hours uncluttered in some days. more suitable for your objectives, isn’t it? but don’t shock yourself when you find that you have no objectives! then you would better return back to the article and read carefully the second point ‘Set Clear Objectives’.

    The last hint is: keep your desk clean. did you find the paper you were searching for in the first paragraph of comment 🙂 ?

    By the way, The link to the mentioned text book is broken!

     
    • You are absolutely right. You mentioned couple of things that are truly valid. “We cannot find time” is actually a fake excuse and illusion. As you mentioned being organized is a secret word that imply knowing what to do and setting priorities.
      Using new technology for our benefits is a huge step toward this objective “being organized”. By the way I can add to your suggested tools by proposing gmail as an organization tool. You can set reminders, alerts, and to do lists as well. It becomes fully integrated with most of browsers.

      I liked reading your comment!

       
    • Hello to every member of the Team !.
      I believe an important question must surface here is “How do we perceive and sense time” at workplace, home, lovely moments, jumpy flight, war, fear, illness, being a youngster or an Adult, etc..
      The above spots time as being relative, to the “time” and location of the experience a human is being enrolled in. basically the sense of time is, till this moment, a riddle and can’t be measured, again, as human feelings are heavily involved here. Not any human feelings but rather individual ones that may vary between each and every human on earth (Our creator Wisdom).
      For anyone wanting to explore different possibilities of our lives by viewing time in a different way, I would recommend a book: “Einstein’s Dreams” by Alan Lightman. It is light reading and explores different scenarios of our lives if time had different characteristics.

       
      • This is a good shot. Time is relative and highly dependent on the context. But even you can consider humor, fun, leisure, and family time is part of smart management.

        You need some time to forget about commitments, deadlines, and todo’s. But remember you are still in control and charge.

        This resembles sleep! God create us forced to sleep. Also there some time we need to rest.

         

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