Tips for Time Management

Tips for Time Management:

1.      Uplift time efficiency first: Improving time efficiency is the first step in any time management effort. Time efficiency is defined as the time you have real progress divided by the time you spend on a thing. For example, having a time efficiency of 60% in reading a paper means 40% of your time has been wasted on being interrupted by Internet surfing, game playing, wondering mind, or long warm-up time. A well disciplined person who can concentrates quickly and persistently could achieve 90% of time efficiency.

2.       Protect your background jobs: Divide your jobs into two types: foreground and background. Foreground jobs are usually smaller but more urgent, while background jobs are bigger, and hence have more value, but with longer, and sometimes flexible, due date. On a day, allocate time for both kinds of jobs. To reduce the time allocated to foreground so that you can create more time for background jobs, utilize fragmented residual slots on a day for foreground jobs. In case you have delayed background jobs for too long, do hard partitioning for background jobs, i.e., handle no foreground jobs in certain slots.

3.      Be multi-threaded: Often you would handle multiple projects in parallel, each with multiple tasks. Given the amount of time slots in a week, how do you allocate time slots to these projects and their tasks so that no projects starve without progress? First, blackout slots allocated to foreground jobs. Avoid overflow foreground jobs to other slots by, again, utilizing fragmented slots. Then, enlarge slots for background jobs so that you can have more significant progress. For example, do not try to write a section of a paper if the slot is only one hour. Next, map big slots to projects and their tasks with a priority scheme, say shortest job first, earliest deadline first, or most valuable first. Write the map down on your calendar, a check list, or a log.

4.      Outsource to expand your capacity or capability: Capacity is defined as how fast you can finish a job, while capability is defined as whether you can do a job well. When you are overloaded and you cannot improve your capacity further, outsource to qualified someone and check the result quality. You can expand your capacity to virtually infinite. If you do not have the capability for a job, find a coach and learn the skill by doing it with the help or advice from a coach. Through this, you accumulate your capability set.

5.      90-80-70 rule of thumb: Quality implies time spent on a job. For most jobs, you finish with the quality of 80 while avoiding 70 which would ruin your reputation. For some selected jobs that you value much, you polish till 90 which would gain you great reputation.

6.       Life quality affects job quality eventually: Never get too busy for too long, which degrades your performance and also health. Leave time space for exercising, thinking, rest, sleep, and recreation. Recreate to create brand new ideas for tough problems.