How to: Time Management

by  Eric Beaugh
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Time is one of those things that you can't really explain. It just is. But it is constantly beyond your scope and grasp. Even though your watch shows something of a steady flow - you feel it goes faster, slower, jumps and hops and stops. After a while you get used to it and don't even understand how much time you actually waste while doing things. That's turns into a big problem when it comes to business. Time can play a joke on you, time can really hurt you, it can ruin everything. But there is an easy fix for it - time management.

In short - time management is complex of routines for organizing your working flow. You get a list of things you need to accomplish - calculate how much time approximately it might take and then compose a time table with a clean picture of activities for a certain period of time. Because of that you get much more results. Your effectiveness receives a boost, your efficiency in the area of activity grows exponentially.

But before I start to explain how to do time management - I need to explain the concept of time. There are two separate forms of time. There is one that occurs naturally, the one that you feel. It is relative. It can go faster and slower depending on your mindset and other factors. And then there is clearly divided and calculated clock time - which 60 seconds in a minute and 60 minutes in an hour. Major goal of time management is to bring natural feeling of time and clock time as close as possible by making a steady rhythm of succession of activities. It is possible because natural time is rather relative. You can shape any way you want. When you have limited window of time to do certain thing you act quite differently from a situation when you need to do something and you have "all the time in the world".

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Time management gives you a chance to make yourself a better worker. You can do more, you can be more diverse, you can discover new things. All because you have correctly organized your day. It helps to avoid much of the stress you get while working. It helps you to escape from the impending doom of drowning in the messy marsh of disorganized workflow.

Imagine this: without a plan your work is like an avalanche. Just falls all over the place in no particular order. But with a proper time management your work starts to look like a tactical bombing. First you get this thing, then this thing and then that thing.


How to time manage your working Day?

First of all - you need to separate your activities one from another. In essence, there are three types of human activity - thoughts, conversations and actions. Everything consists of them. Thoughts go to actions, actions cause conversations, which in turn sparkles some additional thoughts which can serve as a foundation of something completely different for another session.

After that you need to define your tasks and goals. There are two types of these: general and specific. You have one big master goal - the big one. It is divided into a sequence of steps. Which are divided into series of tasks. Which in turn are divided into a groups of smaller tasks that secure the successful realization of the general goal. It may sound tangled but it is really easy on practice.

Let's say you need to write an essay. That is the master goal. What do you need to do to write an essay? You need to define the topic, do some research on the subject, make a structure out of it, write a draft, edit it, maybe rewrite if needed, format it and get done with it. This is a sequence.

Now every step is divided into smaller tasks. For example, what do you need to do when you're forming a structure of an essay? You need to study the collected research materials, take out all the important information, develop your own perspective, morph it into the points and put it in some order with clear beginning, middle and end.

We can go on and break one task into specific actions. How do you do the research? You round up the keywords, get the all the possible sources, run through them like a hurricane, when something fits your topic you grab it and go on to the other source in search of the goods. All you do is basically scavenging and plundering. Then you take all the stuff that you have collected and you study it. Maybe something needs an expansion. Maybe something just looks good but doesn't add much to the table. In the end you get something that can be considered a bricks. Then you put them into the structure and what you have is a working prototype of your text. Nice and easy.

All those things take time. Sometimes too much. At first - there is no way to figure out how much time takes any of the activities. But after a while you start noticing that some things usually take more time than the others. It is recommended to use timer to keep track of time passing. It will immensely improve your pace in the future.


After you have figured out how much time your actions take - you can start composing the time tables. It is important to have clear distinctions between actions. You can't follow one session of research with another session of research. It will be too monotone. You will get tired and your attention won't be as sharp as you need. Your focus will be muddied by the previous sessions. It won't be as effective as it should. You need to follow it up by sketching bits and pieces of a text or digesting the information you have already collected. Or taking a little break to clear your mindset before the other bout.

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Speaking of breaks. Don't put any activities back to back. It will only exhaust you which is not a big deal for a blitzkrieg writing sessions but in long term it will substantially affect your work. There must be pauses - not big ones where one can get lost, but the ones where you can loosen up and take a deep breath. School breaks are usually ten minutes long and it is optimal to change your gears before another round.


Another important thing is notifications. You need to set-up signals for every phase of your actions.  You need to have a preemptive ding before the sessions starts. It must be something like "get ready in 5 minutes!". Start of the session must be marked by the ring. Then there must be a five- or ten-minute window before the end of the phase so you could round things up. The end of the phase also must be marked by the ring. It will help you to keep the pace.

It is useful to keep track of your activities afterwards. Usually it is a journal entry with "activity a. result b." and so on. That way it will be easier to understand your progress and set-up realistic deadlines.


With all that in mind - you will be able to organize your working day in the most effective way.

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