Here at Hunterskill Recruitment, we’re passionate about matching perfect candidates with their perfect job – but we always like to keep in mind the fact that the skills of employability should not be forgotten when we leave the jobs market. If you’ve been following our blog, you’d see we’ve been trying to help our candidates achieve success with our guides ranging from improving confidence to understanding body language! With the new year underway, there’s no better time than now to try and improve what so many struggles with within our work and home lives – time management.
If you are one of the lucky few who have already cracked the code to not let the precious hours slip away – feel free to keep reading and pick up some new tips along the way. However, if you’re like most of us, then you’re familiar with the anxiety-inducing periods of procrastination, and the subsequent mad dash to finish on time! Scientists and educators have been studying time management for years, and in turn, developed a multitude of techniques to help us understand the ins and outs of the way we organise and block our time! Let’s start with a few ‘ground rules’ before we jump into some theories:
- Be realistic – We all want to be the best that we can be, but we also have to accept that we can’t do everything at once, recognizing your own limits is the first step to expanding them!
- Be honest – When it comes to self-improvement, it’s imperative we know our own pitfalls, and often these can be hard to accept. It’s not always going to be easy, but it saves hardship further down the line!
- Be patient – Rome wasn’t built in the day, and good habits aren’t either. Take your time and try to start some kind of regiment, and the results should follow.
With that out the way, let’s start diving into a few time management tricks!
Pareto Analysis or the 80/20 Rule
The ‘80/20’ rule is thrown around often and used to gauge a variety of different things, but the origins of this timeless time management technique hail from an Italian economist named Vilfredo Pareto sometime in the nineteenth century!
Pareto’s Analysis revolves around the concept that 20% of actions are a result of 80% of results – in other words, Pareto proposes that by prioritizing certain tasks, we can maximize our results by putting our time into the 20%, let’s see how it works:
- Make a list of the problems you’re facing
This should be a list of your upcoming workload, or perhaps a goal you would like to achieve (e.g. improving your working output). Gathering feedback from co-workers or collaborators will help identify problems, and will help with the next step.
- Identify the roots/causes of these problems
Once your problems have been identified, try to match the causes of these issues with the problems, you are facing. Honesty is key here, as there maybe be causes that are difficult to identify by yourself (e.g. time spent procrastinating online, taking too long to prepare for the day)
- Score your problems
At this point, try to score your problems by how important they are. The scoring method you decide to use will depend on what kind of problem you are facing. If you are attempting to manage accounts, or cut costs, you may want to use the price of things. If you are trying to manage time, use perhaps estimates of how much time you spend doing things.
- Group your problems together
After scoring each individual problem – attempt to find the root cause of each problem (for example, working time wasted doing housework is different to time wasted on social media) and group them together by root cause. This step may prove difficult, as some problems may have multiple roots, but try and use your best judgement.
- Add up the scores of each group
We’re sure you can see where this is going – you should now have groups of problems, all with individual scores. Now it’s as simple as totalling the scores of each group, so you have the net problem score of each group.
- Prioritise and take action
Take a look through your list – which group of problems has the highest score, and which is the lowest. Organise your list this way, and you have created your prioritised list of problems, the highest scores being the issues that should be concentrated on the most!
Now all that’s left to do is take action! Of course, one rule won’t fix everything, and sometimes techniques for some don’t work for others. While it is very effective for some, the 80/20 technique won’t be for everyone, and tends to work well for critical or analytical thinkers – so here’s another technique that those who have trouble focusing, or get easily overwhelmed.
Created by author David Allen, the Getting Things Done technique, or GTD, is about prioritising actions that can be done immediately, in some ways streamlining the time aspect of problem management better than Pareto Analysis – here’s how it works!
Getting Things Done (GTD) Technique
- Identify the problems you’re facing, and write them down
The beginning of most of these techniques will be similar, identify your problems. The beauty of GTD is that it is open to most problems, be it workload, or personal. Write these problems on a piece of paper, and remember to be honest!
- Decide if your actions or actionable or not
At this point, take a look through your problems, and try to clarify if they are actionable or not. A task is actionable if it can be realistically completed. Some actions are more actionable than others, for example, one problem may be able to be solved by yourself, while another may be able to be solved, however, it may require help from others. This step is integral, so make take time to focus your energy and be realistic when crafting your list.
- Prioritise your list
This step is similar to the 80/20 rule, however here we are aiming to organise our problems by deciding which problems are the most pressing – which tasks need to be solved as soon as possible, and which tasks are not as time-sensitive.
The beauty of GTD is that it is continuous – make your list clear, or keep it in a notebook you carry regularly, or your phone or laptop. Reflect on your list as often as you need, cross off tasks that you have completed, and add new tasks as and when they arrive. Use it to decide your next move.
- Get Things Done
The point of this exercise is to give you something to aim towards and help declutter tasks when there’s a lot going on. Always tackle the most actionable task at that moment, and watch how things get done.
There are hundreds of techniques that we use to manage time, and many more can be found online, or even by asking those who you know to be more organised, we all have our ways. Most importantly we hope you have been able to find some useful techniques here, and maybe even boost your confidence in the tricky world of employability – perhaps mention your techniques in interviews, people are more impressed by those who want to improve, rather than those who think they are perfect.
And as always,