Work effectively thanks to time management
‘Secretary’ was the name for the role in the past. Today, it’s called ‘office manager’. And ‘HR manager’ is a position we’re all familiar with. Whether it’s people, projects or processes, everything is somehow ‘managed’. This is where the term ‘time management’ also comes into play, which refers to planning and arranging our working and leisure time.
In working environments that involve complex tasks, everyone has to plan and manage their time – we become our own time managers. It is up to us to decide when we carry out which tasks at work. In the age of New Work, the transitions between work and leisure are also becoming increasingly blurred.
Time management and New Work
When it comes to working productively, many people appreciate the tranquillity of working from home while also having the opportunity to brainstorm and exchange ideas within the team at their shared office. New Work is supported by residential-like office concepts with lounge areas, open-plan kitchens and communal table islands. The possibility of hybrid working combined with the option of working from home requires employees to maintain high levels of self-organisation. Where do I do what? When do I do it there?
In recent years, many people have been engaging with the topics of time management and self-management. The output of this is effective methods, simple tips that have a substantial impact and, of course, all kinds of apps that support us along the way.
How do I manage my time? The methods.
There are numerous methods and techniques for time management. In our view, these are some of the most effective approaches:
The Pareto principle
In 1906, the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto studied the distribution of land holdings in Italy. He found that around 20% of the population owns about 80% of the land. Nowadays, the Pareto principle is used in project and time management and assumes that we will achieve 80% of the result with 20% of our time. So we ‘waste’ the remaining 80% of our time on achieving the missing 20% of the result. Now it’s a matter of finding the right lever to generate the corresponding added value for the 80%. Even so, the Pareto principle warns against perfectionism. For many jobs – today more than ever – the ‘beta version’ will do.
The Eisenhower principle
The Eisenhower principle is a way of categorising upcoming tasks according to importance and urgency. The aim of this method is to complete the most important tasks first and to identify the least important ones. The reference to Dwight D. Eisenhower is probably due to a 1954 speech in which he quoted a former university president as follows: ‘I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.’
In accordance with the Eisenhower principle, all activities can be divided into one of the four following categories:
- Important and urgent – take care of yourself as soon as possible
- Important and not urgent – schedule and take care of yourself
- Not important and urgent – delegate tasks
- Not important and not urgent – best to avoid
The ALPEN method
The ALPEN method was developed by Lothar J. Seiwert. An award-winning writer and speaker, Seiwert is famous for his book Das 1×1 des Zeitmanagement [The 1×1 of Time Management].
The ALPEN technique describes a classic to-do list with precise planning. Applied at the end of a working day, you also lay the foundation for the following day:
A – Write down the assignments and activities you want to complete.
L – Estimate the length of time you will need.
P – Plan buffer time for things that cannot be taken into consideration in advance. Important!
E – Establish prioritised decisions.
N – Note down level of success: Can you optimise the schedule? Do you have to postpone things until the following day?
Tips and tricks
In addition to time management, other factors for effective self-management include addressing our energy, mindset and concentration. The following tips promote a focused approach to work, a positive attitude and the best use of energy.
- On the evening before, define the three most important tasks for the next day.
- Kiss the frog! Start every morning with the most objectionable, most important task and do not put it off. This raises productivity early on and boosts self-esteem.
- Keep a log. This identifies personal time sinks, allowing you to optimise processes and thus save a large part of your time.
- Limit your emails to a maximum of five lines. This will help you quickly clean up your inbox.
- Say ‘no’ to things that take up your time, focus or energy. At the same time, say ‘yes’ to things that are important to you.
- Make decisions quickly and effectively. And review important decisions by answering the following questions: What are the consequences of my decision in 10 minutes? … in 10 months? … in 10 years?
- Parkinson’s Law: Plan in less time for the most important tasks. Sounds paradoxical, right? But our work expands or contracts in exactly the same measure as the time available to complete it.
There are numerous apps for both iPhone and Android that are designed to facilitate and support self-management. Here are some of the most exciting options out there.
Whether it’s notes, pictures or lists, Evernote makes sure they are easy to find. Even handwritten notes can be easily photographed, stored and forwarded on.
How much time do you waste on the internet? The app provides precise insights on how you spend your time and how to balance your time between productive tasks and taking it easy.
Do you read your emails three or four times before you send them – and still make mistakes? Grammarly takes care of the proofreading in no time at all, so that you can focus on the content.
Imagine a tree dies every time you use your smartphone! Forest incentivises you not to use your smartphone by growing a virtual tree. As soon as you start using your phone again, the tree dies. As a bonus, virtual coins can be used to plant real trees.
Right place, right time. And now Spoom.
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