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Effective time management

  1. By Dr Satyanarayana Dash, IAS (Retd.) Ex-Secretary (Heavy Industry) to Government of India
  2.  Time is Money– You can make money, you can’t make time  If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made of– Bruce Lee  Time is the scarcest Resource and unless it is managed, nothing else can be managed---Peter Drucker  Time is not the main thing, it is the only thing—Miles Davis
  3.  An inch of Gold can not buy an inch of Time— Chinese Proverb  Time Management is to utilize the available time in an optimum manner to achieve one’s personal and professional goals  British Author Mr Arnold Bennet wrote a book “Living on 24 Hours a Day” became an instant hit. Henry Ford had distributed 500 copies of the book to his managers. Many copies were purchased and distributed by Companies in USA among their employees
  4.  Make sure where your time goes—Peter Drucker  Don’t Depend on Memory– Keep a Time Log  See that your time is spent as per your priorities or your responsibilities  Record utilization of your time for two weeks to get a representative picture. This gives you an idea of accuracy of time estimated for each activity. One can know the time stealing activities and levels of interruption
  5.  Planning is a key management function, but research shows that less than 5% of management time goes for planning  Pareto Principle: It states that 20% of one’s time is spent in doing 80% of one’s productive work. How to manage balance 20% of Productive work is the Key Question  Parkinson’s Law : This states that work expands to fill the time available for it.
  6.  Time Management Matrix with scales of Urgency and Importance on both axes helps us understand classification of various tasks. It is referred to as “Eisenhour Matrix” in the name of Mr. Dwight D. Eisenhour, who held the post of the President of USA, since he made use of this matrix extensively.  “I have two kinds of problems. The urgent ones are not important and the important ones are never urgent”– Dwight D. Eisenhour
  7.  Urgent Tasks-assume importance as they demand immediate attention  Important Tasks- May become urgent if left undone. Usually has a long term effect  To judge importance of the task Vs its urgency, gauge them in terms of (i) impact of doing them (ii) effect of not doing them
  8. Urgency/Importance Urgent Not Urgent Important Q1-Crisis/Deadlines to meet. Results in Stress, Burnout, Firefighting, Focus on the Immediate, Crisis Management Q2- Brings Vision, Perspectives, Balance, Discipline & Control– Prevention, Planning, Relationship building, Recreation Not Important Q3-Short Term Focus, Low value of goals, shallow relationships, Interruptions ,Meetings , Popular activities, Feelings of Victimization/lack of control Q4-Pleasant Activities, Busy Work, Time Wasters, Trivia, Junk Mail, unwanted Phone Calls
  9.  Cycling between Quadrants Q3 & Q4 brings Total irresponsibility, High Dependency on others for basics and short career path in the organization Quadrant Q2: Being in Quadrant Q2 requires Coherence, Balance, Focus, Ability to get on with people, Flexibility, Portability.
  10.  Basic Requirements to be in Quadrant Q2:  Clear Definition of Organizational Goals and specifically one’s role  Selection of and Focus on SMART Goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely)  Development and Utilization of Schedules  The practice of daily adapting in work role
  11.  To stay in Quadrant Q2, there is a requirement that you must say “No” in a professional Manner when items in Quadrant 3 & Quadrant 4 present themselves and they will not deliver competitive advantage  Stephen Covey has identified Four waves in Time Management– Notes & Checklists, Calendars & Appointment Books, Prioritization, Self Management
  12.  Effective people stay out of Quadrant 3 or Quadrant 4, because they are not important. They also try to shrink the size of Quadrant 1 down to size after spending more time in Quadrant 2, which is the heart of Effective Personal Time Management. Our effectiveness takes a quantum jump when we start doing the things in Quadrant 2 on a regular basis
  13.  Often worst performers are those who seem to be working hardest and longest. They are very busy, but not remaining effective.  For effective management of Time, there is a need to look at the time and resources required to complete a task. The Quality of the outcome is directly influenced by resources & time constraints involved.  Effectiveness is doing the right thing. Efficiency is doing the right thing correctly
  14.  Focus on time & Resources  Do Pre-analysis of performance  Analysis of Goals & Objectives  Systemization of Processes Pre-analysis of Performance is the ability to learn from past experience to improve performance. It helps to debug projects before initiation, Defining critical points needing particular attention helps overall utilization of resources
  15.  Goals and objectives should be SMART.  Systemization of Processes allows consistency of Input, Output and Training & Skill Transfer. Consistency helps in time to be gauged accurately for activities which assists in scheduled capacity planning in the Organization  There is need to look at realistic nature of allotted time, efficiency in use of Time & Resources, Optimal result for the Teams, Realistic nature of time management
  16.  Procrastination: Putting off doing of something intentionally & habitually  Ask yourself:” Why I am putting off ?” If there is no reason, then do it. Don’t confuse reason with excuse.  Procrastination is World’s No. 1 Time Waster. There is no time like the present to do any work. Procrastination is the thief of Time.
  17.  List all tasks you are currently putting off  Remove two tasks from the list by doing it now  Plan & Set a Schedule for dealing with the rest  Reward when tasks are completed  Punish yourself when tasks are not completed on schedule
  18. Try any of the alternatives as found suitable:- • Do it • Delegate it • Dump it • Deadline it • Dissect it
  19.  This is a failure to recognize the difference between excellence and perfection  Excellence: Achievable, Healthy, Satisfying, Realistic  Perfection : Unattainable, Frustrating, Unrealistic  Use SMART Criteria to set objectives
  20.  Objectives need to be set that challenge you in a realistic manner and take heed of resource availability. Otherwise you are busy without any possibility of success. Use SMART Objectives– Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time bound, which are supported by the Organization
  21.  Do not spend time on a job your subordinate could do to a satisfactory level. Delegate it.  Delegation of tasks not only saves your time, but develops your subordinates in the process  Delegation results in fuller use of resources  Delegation implies transferring initiatives & authority to another  Delegation begins with a deep sense of value and limits on your time
  22.  Managers often complain that they are running out of time when their subordinates run out of work  Delegating routine and predictable part of one’s job is the first step  Delegation is not abdication. Some degree of control on the delegated subordinate must be maintained  Delegation is a great motivator. It enriches jobs, improves performance and raises morale of staff
  23.  Sometimes, it is risky.  We enjoy doing things  We do not sit and think  We like to be on top of everything  We have fear of our subordinate outstripping us  We take pride in saying– “No body can do the job as well as I can.”
  24.  Develop an efficient system of office management  Strive for good order. Muddling increases work and wastes time  Utilize all resources fully and effectively  Handle telephone usage properly (Don’t let it be a nuisance)  Handle a piece of paper only once as far as practicable
  25.  Organize your work  Keep your desk clear of all papers except the job at hand  Think about one thing at a time  Sort out all papers For Action/For Information/For Reading later/ For Waste Paper Basket
  26.  Clarity, Simplicity & Conciseness  Think, Listen & then arrange  Do not cover too many subjects in one letter  As far as practicable, write one page letters  Telephone Usage : Plan your calls properly, Set a period of time for making & receiving calls. Take care of time for each call  Control Office Interruptions : Set the Stage in advance—Your are working on projects with nearing deadlines
  27.  Remain standing and talking with casual droppers in your office to indicate your time constraints. Meet in other person’s office, if necessary, to better control your time  Get your visitors to come straight to the main point. Be conscious of your time, but be gracious  Use call back system for your telephones to avoid interruptions
  28.  Convert your Personal Assistant to a Professional Assistant  He can keep unwanted callers at bay or divert them to the right person to call  He can help you in batching your calls and minimize interruptions.  He can arrange appointments with visitors at appropriate times  He can help you deal with routine correspondence.  He can help you handle your meetings effectively
  29.  Meetings are potential time wasters, sometimes a necessary evil  Sometimes, meetings are a distraction from your work. Learn to say “No” to such meetings where your participation is not required.  Meetings are for serious business and not places for tea + refreshments+ casual chat. There should be definite agenda items well circulated in advance  Meeting must conclude within the time allotted
  30.  Do not call a meeting unless it is absolutely necessary. Do not call a meeting, if the issue can be taken up by a small group or team of officers.  Meetings are not for Bossing around, Socializing, Rubber stamping decisions already taken, Passing on Information or promoting private agenda
  31.  Call only those officers concerned with agenda items well circulated in advance  Do not over pack the agenda items. There should not be “Any Other Items” listed on the agenda.  Meetings should start in time, cover all agenda items and conclude.  The “Hijackers” should not be allowed to deflect the meeting to points outside the agenda  Participants should come with facts/figures and talk to the point and not divert
  32.  Keeping Bosses satisfied takes time. Dealing with unsatisfied Bosses take still more time. Thus failing to satisfy Bosses results in more Boss imposed time, with lower time available for other works  Bosses must realize that the time of subordinates is important to the organization. Tasks monitored by the Boss is only a part of what subordinates monitor. If subordinate is hard pressed for time, the quality of his output will suffer
  33.  System Improvement is essential responsibility of Bosses, particularly for those who waste time on unimportant/unnecessary activities.  You can do only one person’s work. Asking for perfection, at times, is counter productive  Subordinates must realize that the Boss has wider vision and has to devote time for organizational objectives and goals. He must go to Boss after doing proper home work. He must approach the Boss not only with the problem, but with various possible solutions
  34.  Prepare “To Do” list of priorities for the Day and get timings right for each activity  Plan to do hardest work in morning or forenoon hours. Interesting Work,, Meetings or social events could be planned in Off Peak hours  Do not let subordinates come to you with only problems and not their suggested solutions
  35.  People are overloaded for two reasons (1) the present Team does too much (2)The Team has too much to do  Don’t get worked up or panicked. Don’t blame everything on yourself  Estimate time for activity as well as possible  Agree on priorities and stick to them  Remind yourself that there is limited amount of time available to you
  36. Priority 2-Less Urgent/Important Priority 1-Urgent/Important Priority 4-Less Important/Less Urgent Priority 3-Urgent/Less Important
  37.  We can picturise each job or task we have as a Monkey on our back. By completing the work, we get that monkey off our back. In a wider sense, a monkey can be thought of as our next move or a problem that comes to us. So each manager has to do monkey management. Such monkey management transfers managers under time pressure to an effective one
  38.  Some Monkeys are on our back and some monkeys are on the backs of our subordinates  If we pick up monkeys from our subordinates, then they get messages that we want monkeys.  By allowing this, we accept responsibility for the problems from him and promise him a progress report
  39.  In effect, you start doing the problem of your subordinates  Sometimes, your colleagues pass on their monkeys  Many Bosses pass on monkeys to their subordinates  This snowballs into a response, in which we have sideward, upward and downward leaping monkeys  This may take all our available time with no time to do our own monkeys. Hence we should be careful in accepting other’s monkeys
  40.  Oftentimes we are held up at Railway Stations, Airports due to delayed departure of trains or flights. We must plan to use this slack time effectively to read long notes or urgent papers which we could not get time to read.  In the flights/trains, we can utilize the time to get our urgent reading work done so that we continue to be in the Quadrant 2.
  41.  Why Crises occur ?  Failure to recognize the looming crisis  Underestimation of time required for a Task  No Contingency Plans ready  No follow up of Delegated Tasks Anticipating & Preventing Crisis:- • Set realistic Deadlines & stick to them • Use interim targets and milestones to break the Task or the Project into manageable chunks
  42. (1) Reactive Crisis Management:-  Concentrate on getting things done  Handle daily routines carefully  Take steps to resolve the source of crisis  Handle Interruptions in work deftly (2) Proactive Crisis Management:- * Concentrate on making things happen * Develop Plans & Schedules & Focus on Key Tasks * Achieve deadlines and targets and manage projects within time schedules
  43.  Failure to Plan is Planning to Fail  A Plan is a Road Map set in real time to reach an objective or a set of objectives through the use of defined resources  You have to know thoroughly what you have to plan  Break up the Task into Manageable chunks  Gauge the time required for each chunk  Schedule each chunk into a logical sequence
  44.  Strategic Goals– Long term goals , may be about 5 years  Tactical Goals—Medium Term Goals from 3 months to 12 months ahead  Operational Goals– Short Term goals defining the exact action to be taken. The schedule may cover hours or days  Goals Checklist: Realistic and Challenging, Linked to Performance appraisal system of the Manager, Time bound nature, SMART, Rewards on achievement
  45.  Cascading of Plans should be on Yearly, Monthly ,Weekly and Daily basis  In the Cascade, the time span decreases whereas the level of complexity increases  Daily Plan : Scheduled Daily Activities and time allocated, Prioritization and identification of key tasks, Contacts to be made during the day to complete the tasks
  46.  Suit the Tasks to your Bio rhythm  Build in planning time at the start and end of the Day  Prioritize actions into Musts, Shoulds and Coulds and focus on the “Musts”  Leave room for unexpected happenings  Don’t stack meetings back to back  Batch Telephone Calls  Build in Quality Time
  47.  It can steal a vast quantity of time from our working day  Act on what is required by the Documents  File the Documents for handling later, if necessary  Dump the Document, if not required during the Day  Define what you need to keep and for how long
  48.  File your documents easily and logically  The Documents should be easily retrievable so that you can have access to them  Purge the Files on a regular basis, so that you have space in the Record Room to keep Files  Manage your work space, since it has an impact on your efficiency and effectiveness  De clutter your desk by clearing files by the end of the Day and organize a proper Work flow system in your space
  49.  Take time to work, it is the price of success  Take time to think, it is the source of power  Take time to play, it is the source of youth  Take time to read, it is the source of wisdom  Take time to love, it is the privilege of Gods  Take time to serve, it is the purpose of life  Take time to laugh, it is the music of the soul