Jun 102011

Time management is imperative in hyper competitive world today compared to old days. Following tricks have helped me and I encourage you to read and utilize in your life.

  1. Perform the most important tasks to shorten work time (Pareto Principle)
    • Which 20% of sources are resulting in 80% of my desired outcomes and happiness?
    • What 20% of sources are causing 80% of my problems and unhappiness?
    • What 20% of friends are causing 80% of my enjoyment and happiness?

    May be it is time to concentrate on important 20% work. It might be a good idea to retire from particular social network. Doing an unimportant task well does not make it important.

  2. Give yourself less time to perform a task (Parkinson’s Law): The time pressure forces you to focus on execution and you have no choice but to do only the bare essentials. Shorter deadline= higher quality due to greater focus. Force yourself to cram to tight hours so your per hour productivity does not fall. Requiring a lot of time does not make a task important.
  3. Am I being productive: While doing a task, ask yourself - “Am I being productive? What needs to be done for the day, so that I will be satisfied?” While working, this small question has immensely helped me to be more productive.
  4. Cultivate Selective Ignorance: Read news and headlines important to you. You do not have to read everything and stress yourself out. Most information is time consuming, negative, irrelevant to your goals and outside of your influence.
    • At lunch break, get your five minute news feed. Ask friends or colleagues “anything important happening in world today”. Stop the conversation if news does not affect you. Most people won’t remember long hours they spent reading news.
    • Just-in-time information. “Will I definitely use this information for something immediate and important?” Information is useless if it is not applied to something important or you will forget it before you have the chance to apply it. Reading a book for an event not needed in near future is not recommended and read it closer to the event.
  5. Read faster:
    1. Use a pen or finger to trace under each line as you read as fast as possible
    2. Read selective words in sentence. It is ok to skip unimportant words in between.
      • Mary and Kelly went for picnic. They ate fruits and played golf.
      • Mary .. Kelly went .. picnic. .. ate fruits .. played golf.
  6. Learn to Propose: Train yourself to propose solutions instead ask for them, to elicit desired responses (instead of react), and to be assertive without burning the bridges. Develop the uncommon habit of making decisions for yourself and for others. “I suggest that …What do you think?” This saves time and it is an important part of negotiation.
  7. Use media wisely
    • Reduce frequency of checking email often. Do not check email constantly-“batch” and check at set times only.
    • Attend only urgent phone calls while working on important tasks to avoid distraction and for maximum productivity.
    • While working, block sites that tempt you to visit. You may use Firefox→ LeechBlock Tool. So, if you have a weakness of wandering around, this tool will help. With this tool you can block 6 sites at defined intervals of time.
    • Do not scan the inbox on weekend, if you cannot solve work problems until Monday. Enjoy your weekend. Do not email first thing in the morning (time to work on your to do list) or last thing in the night (just gives you insomnia).
    • Do not carry a cellphone or Crackberry 24/7 and give yourself a break from digital devices.
  8. Practice the art of non-finishing: If the boss isn’t demanding it, you do not have to finish everything. For example if you have started to read something, do not compel yourself to finish it if it is boring or of no use.
  9. Use appropriate Communication Channel: Use email, phone or in-person meetings depending on which medium will get the work done quickly. Insist on meetings with clear agenda and end time. Train your team to be effective and efficient.
  10. Batch your personal and professional tasks: Check all email at once, check your finance biweekly (or weekly) instead of every 2-3 days, doing laundry once in a week is less time consuming than doing it twice or three times for me. Other tasks to batch process: Grocery, Mail, etc. Batch (Cluster) process all your meeting and phone calls, so that you can concentrate on work during one slot without distraction.
  11. Automate/Delegate Appropriately: Never automate something that can be eliminated and never delegate something that can be automated. Give complete directions, prioritize the order and timeline while delegating or outsourcing/delegating the work.
  12. Make decisions quickly: Learn to make reversible or non-fatal decisions as quickly as possible.

I am sure you also have more ideas. I look forward to hear your thoughts.

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