We all have 24 hours in a day, so why does it seem like some get more done than others? Observing successful entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and Bill Gates schedule their days down to the minute, there must be some reason in this productivity hack. What can we learn from them?
“A 40 hour time-blocked work week, I estimate, produces the same amount of output as a 60+ hour work week pursued without structure,” says Cal Newport, Associate Professor of computer science at Georgetown University and best-selling author of Deep Work. Effective time management sets off a cascade of events; it optimises the time available to you, increases productivity and efficiency, enhances decision-making, and results in bigger and better achievements.
Being able to manage your time well is a lifelong skill, one that becomes increasingly important as you progress to the workplace.
1. Assess Your Capabilities, Preferences, and Current Strategies
Before optimising your schedule, it’s important to take stock of your current methods and observe what works and doesn’t. Without understanding your preferences, planning your time can be challenging. Gather evidence and information first, then proceed to craft well-planned time management plans.
- Evaluate your time measurement: We often underestimate the amount of time a certain task takes to complete, which leads to us overscheduling tasks and taking on more than capable. Realistically measuring the amount of time it takes you to complete an assignment versus a reading can help with more accurate timetabling.
- Optimise your peak performance time: Early risers tend to pack their days before noon, while night owls find themselves focusing much better late at night. Recognising when you perform your best can give you direction in terms of scheduling important, attention-heavy tasks. Section your day off into three to four productivity blocks and slot in the tasks accordingly.
- Switch tasks if you’re reaching lull status: If you feel like you’re spending too much time on a task, you probably are. Change your task if you’re feeling unproductive or unmotivated to work on the current task. At times, changing your tasks can offer much-needed perspective.
2. Control Your Task List By Incorporating Structure Into It
Time management is also beneficial for when you receive tasks that are new and unfamiliar. These types of tasks have steeper learning curves so they may take up more time than expected. Likewise, developing a structure around your different tasks can give you control.
- Plan using a productivity app: Apps like Notion and Trello can mitigate the stresses associated with multiple deadlines. With a calendar app, you eliminate the additional mental stress that comes with remembering commitments in and out of school.
- Take prioritisation seriously: By being realistic with your task prioritisation, you can segregate accurate pockets of time for each given task, reducing the probability of missing deadlines and pushing important tasks to the last minute.
3. Set Up Contingency Plans For High-pressure Situations
When it’s ‘crunch time’, you need to manage your time with ease and calm. With several deadlines stacked on top of each other and examination period looming, surmounting pressure can eat into precious time.
- Have a back-up plan: Always factor in a day or two for high-pressure projects that require your time, effort, and attention. Packing your schedule tightly leaves little room for mistake, which can be costly when you’re running from one class to another.
- Try time blocking focus periods: If focusing for prolonged periods of time is difficult, try blocking out chunks of time to complete short goals. For instance, if you work better in the morning, set up two hours of deep work time.
A brighter future ahead
Time management is one of the most important skills any individual can have. It affects your efficiency, effectiveness, and productivity, from work and school to personal life. Young professionals and students are advised to master this skill as early as possible to reap the benefits of a productive day compared to hours of idling.
Explore courses available at PSB Academy for your professional development here.