Time is our most precious asset. Once it’s gone you cannot get it back, and yet it seems so easy to waste it. Ironically a lot of time is wasted fretting over how we should use our time.
There are simply not enough hours in the day to keep up with the tasks we set ourselves.
There are simply not enough months in the year to achieve all our resolutions.
There may not even be enough years in our lifetimes to see all that we want to!
But there is a solution! The key factors in effective time management are What, When, Who, and How.
In this post, I will show you real life examples of how you can manage your time using these four simple categories.
What, When, Who, and How
These four categories are essential for compressing your time. Compressing essential means that you take the opportunity to accomplish more tasks by using your circumstances to your advantage. Each of the four categories below is useful for isolating when is an appropriate time to work on a particular task, which in turn can leave you spare time to divide among your primary tasks as you so choose.
What do I need to finish this work?
What physical things are needed to complete this work? This is essential because you will save yourself a lot of time pondering lots of other factors which are not genuinely important. When you isolate what things are required then you now have a list of simple steps with which you can plan your immediate progress.
For example, if you need to analyse certain sources in order to complete an assignment then setting aside time to obtain and analyse each of them is a necessary step to take before completing the final draft of your assignment.
When would it be possible to do this work?
If you are doing work that has to be done during a certain time frame then you can isolate when you need to complete other tasks.
This is particularly useful when you have consistent working hours, or even if you find out your working hours for each week.
For example, when I was in my final undergraduate year I balanced my dissertation, with other academic assignments, with my position as the sports editor for the student newspaper “Brig”, and sending job applications. For my dissertation it was essential to visit archives in other cities for several days. This meant that I had to isolate a week where I did not have a major deadline due within 5 days minimum of returning and it also could not be the newspaper editing week at the end of the month. As a result I was able to isolate some time slots in September and make all of the essential transport and accommodation arrangements .
Who do I need to work with?
You have to consider their availability, and once you’ve established a meeting time you do not have to worry about when to meet that person. Therefore, you can focus on fewer tasks in the rest of your time.
For example, as I mentioned in a previous article (insert link), it is always a good idea to be prepared for working on other tasks if necessary. This is particularly true if you are expecting to work with other people. When I was preparing to work on a group project at University I would always bring other work with me so I would not waste time if my partners could not make it on time.
How can I do this work?
One of the absolute cardinal rules of effective time management is that you assign your most difficult tasks to your most productive working hours. If a task requires research then you have to be able to focus more to complete it.
For example, I am a morning person, so when I have serious deadlines I focus on getting to sleep early at night so that I can wake up early. I would assign any complicated or creatively challenging tasks for first thing the next morning and assign simpler laborious tasks for the late afternoon and night time.