Time Management Tips from about.com

Michael Payne | June 13th, 2007 | , ,

Susan Ward wrote this article on 11 Time Management Tips. Most of us feel maxed out and spread thin these days. I decided to review what she has to say and do a personal assessment on what is working and what is not working in “Managing the chaos”.

Susan’s 11 points and how I rate myself:

1) Realize that time management is a myth. | Personal Grade: A

No matter how organized we are, there are always only 24 hours in a day. Time doesn’t change. All we can actually manage is ourselves and what we do with the time that we have.

I could not agree more. Especially as a small business you have to come to grips with the fact that it is impossible to get everything done. Intervals helps us squeeze the most of our limited resources and lets us communicate that easily with a few clicks. This is one of the main reasons we originally built it. To get an honest and real view of where our efforts go.

2) Find out where you’re wasting time. | Personal Grade : B+
Intervals helps find this out in two ways. If you get used to starting a timer every time you do something it makes you focus on your activities. If you are at the office 14 hours and look at your daily activity in Intervals and you have 8 hours it is clear that something is amiss and it is time to pay closer attention to day to day activities.

3) Create time management goals. | Personal Grade: B+
We have weekly goals for where we spend our time here at Pelago. We meet every Monday morning and review the goals for the week and our estimated hours. We also use this time to share anything personal from the weekend. We found that if we have one two hour meeting to plan the week AND talk personal business it cuts down on personal talk over the week. We have found this system works extremely well for us.

4) Implement a time management plan. | Personal Grade: B+
#3 pretty much covers this one

5) Use time management tools. | Personal Grade: A
Intervals is a life saver here. Once you get in the habit of starting a timer every time you do something (and also double checking yourself every few hours) it is pretty eye opening. It is helpful to create a few general tasks for miscellaneous things that need to be done. For example, on the IT front I have a task assigned to myself for “Weekly Backup Rotation”.

6) Prioritize ruthlessly. | Personal Grade: B
I do pretty well here. The combinations of Intervals and using “My Scratchpad” helps keep the important in my face. The biggest detractor is the volume of projects we work on. We do a lot of maintenance work and average touching over 35 projects a week. Given we have a team of 7 there are a lot of details and fires that regularly challenge the master plan.

7) Learn to delegate and/or outsource. | Personal Grade: C
This one is hit and miss. We tried to hire to delegate and it didn’t work out as we planned. We are outsourcing some of our IT needs, but contractors don’t have the incentive or feel the pain like we do in house. I wish this one were easier.

8) Establish routines and stick to them as much as possible. | Personal Grade: B
I do a pretty good job here, but definitely need more “blacked out time”. We work in a large open office. It is great for communication, but when you need focused time it can be destructive. I try to come in early or stay late for focused time, but going into headphone land seems to work well. I just need to do it more often.

9) Get in the habit of setting time limits for tasks. | Personal Grade: A
Time estimates and limits are built right into task management in Intervals. As long as you get used to creating tasks for all of your work and set realistic estimates and due dates you are good to go.

10) Be sure your systems are organized. | Personal Grade: A
Document support in Intervals and project management help keep everything in one central place.

11) Don’t waste time waiting. | Personal Grade: A
Cingular 8125 with Microsoft Direct Push helps keep things moving during the “in between” times. I probably need to set it down a little more to be completely honest.

Overall Grade: B+

Thanks Susan for the checkup.

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John Reeve
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John Reeve

John is a co-founder, web designer and developer at Pelago. His blog posts are inspired by everyday encounters with designers, developers, creatives and small businesses in general. John is an avid reader and road cyclist.
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Jennifer Payne
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Jennifer Payne

Jennifer is the Director of Quality and Efficiency at Pelago. Her blog posts are based largely on her experience working with teams to improve harmony and productivity. Jennifer is a cat person.
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Michael Payne
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Michael Payne

Michael is a co-founder and product architect at Pelago. His contributions stem from experiences managing the development process behind web sites and web-based applications such as Intervals. Michael drives a 1990 Volkswagen Carat with a rebuilt 2.4 liter engine from GoWesty.
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