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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Three Tips on Time Management

A little over fourteen months ago I'd posted the predecessor to this post, where I touched upon the concept of multitasking. Now, over three months since my last post, I find myself on vacation, and finally able (and willing) to return my attention to this blog.
I recently read a discussion by friends that mentioned that "the days are long, but the years are short". I've certainly found this to be the case also, for the client-facing work I've been involved with since August of last year.
There are advantages to being obsessive, focused, and absorbed in any activity, I believe, but there are also unavoidable detractors, such as needing to use a timer or other externalized tooling to ensure that less engrossing tasks involved in daily living are still accomplished as required.

So, here are three tips to avoid ending up like that (altogether uncomfortably identifiable) XKCD character.

1. Learn to accurately estimate task duration and effort.

As the XKCD comic mentions, building a schedule can be useful to structure one's day, week, or project. However, I also posit that an accurate ability to estimate the effort and time every task can be expected to be required to create an effective timetable.

2. When prioritizing tasks, pick your battles.

Another indispensable skill concerns correctly prioritizing one's to-do list. This I consider as an essential pre-requisite to creating schedules that can be followed, regardless of the desire (or lack thereof) to do so. There are hard deadlines, softer (more negotiable) ones, and "nice to have"s. Identify them first.

3. Make yourself a priority.

Building in breaks, meals, and contrasting activities to break up the day can contribute to successfully adhering to any schedule. This clearly involves self-awareness and learning one's proclivities from experience. Should one take a sugar boost in mid-afternoon to offset the lull of digesting a lunch? Is one most productive first thing in the morning, or late afternoon?

As a child, I thrived on routine, although by external perspectives my parents created a household that was completely enslaved to our (self-imposed) schedule. While now I enjoy heretofore unknown levels of flexibility with my work-week, I'd like to reassess all of my priorities this year's end. Part of the 2013 planning will hopefully include ensuring that I resume blogging more regularly!

About Mayo

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Professional: As "Senior Enterprise SEO Strategist" in IBM's Digital Marketing division, I provide consulting and training services for both internal and external clients. Formerly I was involved in Natural Language Processing, software localization, quality assurance and documentation authoring.
Personal: INTJ Nikkei Nisei ex-patriated Canadian who takes photographs and enjoys Baroque through late Classical music. The G+ page shares some of the "best of" photos.