In the fast-paced world we live in, one secret to success is to manage time efficiently. During our ALLODD meeting in Budapest , we had training on how to increase productivity through efficient time management.
In this blog post, I would like to share 7 key points:
1. The Three Pillars – environment, mind, schedule: Organise your working space to minimize distraction, clear your mind from thoughts by taking notes, and structure your day using the 18-minute/day method.
The 18 minutes consist of 5 minutes dedicated to planning the day, 8 minutes to refocus every working hour, and 5 minutes at the end of the day for reflection.
2. Estimate time: To estimate work durations, use historical data or tools like the GANTT chart (Figure 1 A) to analyse the critical path and to spot bottlenecks that require the most time.
3. Feedback: Find the correct timing to ask for feedback to ensure that the work is following the correct focus required for completion.
4. Prioritization: A distinction between important and urgent jobs helps in setting priorities (Figure 1 B). Important and urgent tasks such as responding to accidents, giving a short minute presentation for important collaboration opportunities, or responding to a review are called firefighting tasks. These tasks are generally managed well.
More challenging is to balance reactive and proactive tasks. Reactive tasks such as responding to e-mails or spending time on social media are loud, meaning we are notified regularly, while long-term proactive tasks such as career development or working on a paper/project are quieter. It is important that moderately urgent tasks do not get overshadowed by urgent ones.
5. The Power of Habit: Understand that habits play a significant role in time management. Cultivate good habits that align with your goals as this can help to master periods of large change such as moving to another country or working for some time at another organization/university.
6. Small Changes: Don't underestimate the impact of small changes in your routine. Consistency is key.
7. Elephant vs. Rider: Imagine your conscious mind as the rider on top of the elephant (habit) (Figure 1 C). It needs time and conscious efforts to guide your habits toward effective time management.
Many of the points were known to me before the training, but the refresher reminded me to incorporate these techniques into my daily routine. I started to integrate the refocusing every hour to help me improve my productivity in the last two weeks.
 Time management, Trainer: János Balázs KISS, Mindbeat, September 2023
Figure 1. Overview of tools for time management. (A) GANTT chart can be used to plot the tasks against time and identify critical steps that require time. (B) Tasks can be categorized into importance and urgency. (C) The consciousness is the rider, while the elephant is the habit. The rider needs to make small changes to the moving elephant. Developing Time Management Skills: A Path to Greater Productivity.