21 March, 2018

Get more out of life by improving your time management.

We all have the same amount of time in a day as everyone else. So how come other people seem to get way more done than others? Maybe you feel this about yourself, you’re always running to catch up or regularly miss one or two of your deadlines? Or maybe you just feel there’s no time for downtime as each project or task runs into the next. Without the help of a time machine, cloning machine or ability to turn minutes into hours what can we do to make our time management better? At the Hoxton Mix, providing a service such as our virtual office means we constantly make sure to manage our time well so we can keep providing you with a great service.

Time management or task management?

Perhaps it would help to take a moment to look at what we really mean by time management and perhaps this great quote by author of Getting Things Done David Allen will help: “You can’t manage time, it just is. So ‘time management’ is a mislabeled problem, which has little chance of being an effective approach. What you really manage is your activity during time, and defining outcomes and physical actions required is the core process required to manage what you do.”

If you think about it, you know you can’t slow down the rotation of the earth around the sun or go back in time Superman style. All we can really do is manage what we do within time itself. That means determining outcomes with attached timeframes and then designing the necessary steps that will bring you to your outcome or goal within the set timeframe. Simple 😉

Of course this is a huge topic with many different approaches. Just try a quick Google for ‘GTD tools’ and see where the rabbit hole takes you! But even though it’s a big topic let’s take a moment to look at the basics so you can get started right away.

Effective AND Efficient

Effectiveness is the degree to which you are is successful in producing a desired result. How much of your desired product/result/outcome do you produce within your set time frame?

Efficiency is about achieving that outcome by putting in just enough effort to produce the result you want and no more. Of course, the amount of effort needed will be determined by the tasks involved in reaching your outcome. Sometimes you’ll need a whole team working on something and other times it’ll be just one person.

It’s here that you’ll start to realise that you might be putting in way too much effort for a particular outcome. Do you waste valuable time by proof reading something 10 times instead of twice? Or perhaps you should pass the proof reading on to someone else so you can stay focussed on the important work? Can you think of anything you are working on to produce a result that doesn’t need as much effort from you as you are putting in. For example, do you need to be micro managing staff or would it be better to create a framework for their work and then let them use their powers of intelligence and reasoning to get the job done on their own?

If you were going to choose one to start with, it would definitely be on improving the degree (the amount) to which you are successful in producing your desired result (effectiveness). Particularly note, you could become extremely efficient in doing something within in your business but if it doesn’t produce your desired business outcomes (and therefore isn’t important) you are wasting energy, time and resources. 

Prioritise and refine

So begin by defining what’s important, then figure out how you are going to get there with only the necessary effort required, and no more. Prioritise your desired outcomes in order of importance, this will enable you to prioritise what tasks to focus on that will create your desired outcome. Then you can start to refine your process by figuring out how to do those tasks using only the necessary resources, effort and time. In many startups often tasks that begin as manual tasks, once they have been defined as necessary to producing the outcome, are automated wherever possible.

Don’t forget, particularly if you are just starting out yourself, your journey will be one of continual improvement and refinement but make sure you define what the important outcomes are first and use that to decide which tasks go in what order. Then refine your process.

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