Time management for beginners

by Vikash Bhardwaj

Expert procrastinator? Tired of wasting time?  Last minute- Leonidas? 

I (ahem) may have been some of these things am sometimes (ahem) these things.

Because I don’t have the time for this (excuse the pun), I really want to improve my time management game. 

I am usually able to get everything done by the deadline but really wanted to develop mastery over my time and schedule and avoid unnecessary stress.

This is my approach so far.

Harvard Business Schools: An-18 minute plan for Managing Your day

This article can be, more or less, summed up in the following three lines.

STEP 1 (5 Minutes) Set Plan for Day.

STEP 2 (1 minute every hour) Refocus.

STEP 3 (5 minutes) Review.

Peter Bregman (2009)

I really like this. However I feel like the click-bait-y title has morphed what the technique became.

I find assigning 1 minute an hour to ‘refocus’ a bit ridiculous. Especially since I’m looking to improve my time management, not streamline it. 

But then, after stepping back from the article I realized..

An important aspect of time management is understanding yourself and your working patterns.

Which got me thinking..

Why not replace the 1 minute ‘refocus’ periods per hour to something more appropriate?

I then came up with the following three questions which are almost Makeover Monday-esque in essence;

  • What worked well?
  • What didn’t work so well?
  • Why?

By asking these questions every hour, or every other hour, you can really start to get a sense of how you work. An added bonus of this is you can track where you’re up to and appreciate how much you’ve been even on those where you feel like you’ve done nothing.  

At the end of the day, I feel like all of this all boils down to habits and rituals.

But, both habits and rituals are forged into routines over time. You’ve got to be realistic and appreciate this is only your starting point. 

The Framework:

STEP 1  Plan your day

Try to be realistic and underestimate your time. No time allotted as different tasks require different times for planning.

STEP 2 Refocus 

This can be done every hour, or periodically throughout the day. Try and answer the following questions; 

  • What worked well?
  • What didn’t work so well?
  • Why?

STEP 3 Review

After you’re done, go over your day and review any notes or thoughts you may have taken. Take the time to understand your working patterns and see what you like / what to improve?

I’m working to incorporate this into my working schedule. I tested this technique, somewhat unsuccessfully, on Dashboard Week Day 4. I didn’t go to plan on the day, as I had a lot to do, but I learned a lot about how I managed my time. You can read all about it here.

Bonus

As a bonus. here’s one of my favorite time-related-titled songs. (PS; please ignore the sentiment of the title)

If you have any other tips, tricks or advice please leave a comment below or contact me on; Twitter @vikb03 or Linkedin.

Thanks for reading!