Sunday, February 04, 2007

10 tips for time management in a multitasking world

Link : 10 tips for time management in a multitasking world

Actual article (copied from the site above):

10 tips for time management in a multitasking world

management is one of those skills no one teaches you in school but you
have to learn. It doesn’t matter how smart you are if you can’t
organize information well enough to take it in. And it doesn’t matter
how skilled you are if procrastination keeps you from getting your work

Younger workers understand this, and time management is becoming a
topic of hipsters. One of the most popular blogs in the world is Lifehacker, edited by productivity guru Gina Trapani, and her forthcoming book by the same name is a bestseller on Amazon based so far on pre-orders.

In today’s workplace, you can differentiate yourself by your ability
to handle information and manage your time. “Careers are made or broken
by the soft skills that make you able to hand a very large workload,”
says Merlin Mann, editor of the productivity blog 43 Folders.

So here are 10 tips to make you better at managing your work:

1. Don’t leave email sitting in your in box.

“The ability to quickly process and synthesize information and turn it
into actions is one of the most emergent skills of the professional
world today,” says Mann. Organize email in file folders. If the message
needs more thought, move it to your to-do list. If it’s for reference,
print it out. If it’s a meeting, move it to your calendar.

“One thing young people are really good at is only touching things
once. You don’t see young people scrolling up and down their email
pretending to work,” says Mann. Take action on an email as soon as you
read it.

2. Admit multitasking is bad.

For people who didn’t grow up watching TV, typing out instant messages and doing homework all at the same time, multitasking is deadly. But it decreases everyone’s productivity,
no matter who they are. “A 20-year-old is less likely to feel
overwhelmed by demands to multitask, but young people still have a loss
of productivity from multitasking,” says Trapani.

So try to limit it. Kathy Sierra at Creating Passionate Users suggests practicing mindfulness as a way to break the multitasking habit.

3. Do the most important thing first.

Trapani calls this “running a morning dash”. When she sits
down to work in the morning, before she checks any email, she spends an
hour on the most important thing on her to-do list. This is a great
idea because even if you can’t get the whole thing done in an hour,
you’ll be much more likely to go back to it once you’ve gotten it
started. She points out that this dash works best if you organize the
night before so when you sit down to work you already know what your
most important task of the day is.

4. Check your email on a schedule.

“It’s not effective to read and answer every email as it arrives. Just
because someone can contact you immediately does not mean that you have
to respond to them immediately,” says Dan Markovitz, president of the productivity consulting firm TimeBack Management,
“People want a predictable response, not an immediate response.” So as
long as people know how long to expect an answer to take, and they know
how to reach you in an emergency, you can answer most types of email
just a few times a day.

5. Keep web site addresses organized.

Use book marking services like
to keep track of web sites. Instead of having random notes about places
you want to check out, places you want to keep as a reference, etc.,
you can save them all in one place, and you can search and share your
list easily.

6. Know when you work best.

Industrial designer Jeff Beene
does consulting work, so he can do it any time of day. But, he says, “I
try to schedule things so that I work in the morning, when I am the
most productive.” Each person has a best time. You can discover yours
by monitoring your productivity over a period of time. Then you need to
manage your schedule to keep your best time free for your most
important work.

7. Think about keystrokes.

If you’re on a computer all day, keystrokes matter because
efficiency matters. “On any given day, an information worker will do a
dozen Google searchers,” says Trapani. “How many keystrokes does it
take? Can you reduce it to three? You might save 10 seconds, but over
time, that builds up.”

8. Make it easy to get started.

We don’t have problems finishing projects, we have problems
starting them,” says Mann. He recommends you “make a shallow on-ramp.”
Beene knows the key creating this on ramp: “I try to break own my
projects into chunks, so I am not overwhelmed by them.”

9. Organize your to-do list every day.

If you don’t know what you should be doing, how can you manage your
time to do it? Some people like writing this list out by hand because
it shows commitment to each item if you are willing to rewrite it each
day until it gets done. Other people like software that can slice and
dice their to-do list into manageable, relevant chunks. For example,
Beene uses tasktoy
because when he goes to a client site tasktoy shows him only his to do
items for that client, and not all his other projects. (Get tasktoy here.)

10. Dare to be slow.

Remember that a good time manager actually responds to some things more
slowly than a bad time manager would. For example, someone who is doing
the highest priority task is probably not answering incoming email
while they’re doing it. As Markovitz writes: “Obviously there are more
important tasks than processing email. Intuitively, we all know this.
What we need to do now is recognize that processing one’s work
(evaluating what’s come in and how to handle it) and planning one’s
work are also mission-critical tasks.”

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