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Time Management: Efficient Task Implementation

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2010-11-09 07:17:47     
Article by Prakash Rao

General Patton had said, "Good tactics can save even the worst strategy. Bad tactics will destroy even the best strategy." To paraphrase him, good implementation can save a bad process while bad implementation can ruin the best.

What does this have to do with time management? Efficiency is an important element of time management, and good implementation is an integral part of efficiency. While, as Peter Drucker said, effectiveness is doing the right thing, efficiency is doing things right.

Doing the right thing in the context of time management includes listing all your tasks, prioritizing them, pruning the list to eliminate unimportant tasks and picking the next thing you must to in order to determine the best use of your time.

This is similar to lining up all your ducks so that you can shoot them down one by one. Doing things right, on the other hand, involves determining the best course of action within the task you selected by the previous process so that you can get it done quickly and correctly. Both are required if you wish to finish all that you have to do and yet find time for the little things in life that make life worth living.

This article focuses on strategies for doing things right or efficiently, i.e. quickly and correctly.

Two relatively straight-forward strategies for doing things quickly include effective use of wait time and effective multitasking.

For effective use of wait time, identify tasks which have a potential for waiting, e.g. visits to doctors or dentists, "while you wait" services like car service, tasks involving queues including services at post offices, banks, airports, etc. Then, pair these tasks with tasks that may be done while waiting, including reading books, reports, proposals, etc.
For effective multitasking, follow these two "Laws" of multitasking:

Only automatic or "thought-free" tasks may be combined with compatible tasks. In other words, only tasks that have been performed or practiced until they can be performed without conscious thought may be performed with another task. If you had to think about walking or chewing gum, you cannot walk and chew gum at the same time. Two tasks are compatible if they do not interfere with each other.
Automatic tasks may be combined with at most one task that requires thought. Many people tend to keep their hands occupied when they need to spend some time deep in thought. Myself, I like to mow the lawn, take a long walk or take care of mindless paperwork when I need to think. However, you cannot think about two things at the same time - it derails the train, or trains, of thought. Therefore, pick one task that requires conscious thought and put it together with something that does not require conscious thought.

Two very obvious but difficult strategies include interruption and distraction management. They are very easy in principle but very difficult in practice because it takes a well disciplined mind to recover from interruptions or to ignore distractions.

To best manage interruptions, keep track of what I call the "context stack." When you get interrupted, keep track of what you are working on and what you need to do in order to resume the task. I call this the stack because it works recursively - interruptions can be interrupted in turn! If you carefully track whatever you work on, you can backtrack easily when the interruption is completed. Otherwise, you will waste valuable time in just recovering from interruptions.

To best manage distractions, practice meditation and exercises in focus and concentration. Set your threshold high and deliberately ignore all activities below that bar.

By effective use of wait time and effective multitasking, and by effective management of interruptions and distractions, you can implement tasks more efficiently.

Prakash Rao is a time management coach with a very unique approach: Control time within tasks as much as you control which tasks you perform. This approach allows Prakash's clients to be effective, efficient and error-free in management of their tasks and their lives. For more information about Prakash's techniques please visit http://www.bankyourtime.com To avail Prakash's coaching services, contact him at prakash@bankyourtime.com.

Specialized in: Spare Time - Create Spare Time - Do More With Less Time - Life Management
URL: http://www.bankyourtime.com/
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