Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Time Management teaches a number of techniques that aim to increase the effectiveness of a person in getting the things done that need to be done. Time management is somewhat of a misnomer as time passes without regard to what we do; the only thing we can manage is ourself. Hence time management is mostly about self management. There are a number of tools, techniques and attitudes that can help:
- Todo list
- Goal setting
- Win-win opportunities
- Understanding others
- Improving yourself
A todo list is a standard tool in time management. It usually is a flat list of tasks that a person needs to complete. To increase the efficiency of the ordinary todo list, prioritize the tasks in four different categories:
- important and urgent,
- important and not urgent,
- not important and urgent,
- not important and not urgent.
Effective time management is learning to say No to tasks in categories 3 and 4 to make more time for tasks in categories 1 and 2. Freeing yourself from doing the unimportant tasks leaves more time to focus on the important matters.
However some schools of thought cast doubt on the effectiveness of prioritizing by importance, pointing out that so called 'not important' tasks have a tendency to become emergencies if they are neglected. If tasks need to be done, then it makes no difference what order they are done in -- the essential thing is that they get done. If they don't need to be done, what are they doing on the todo list in the first place?
There are three different type of goals you can set for yourself:
- Rational goals: specific goals for the short term
- Directional goals (also known as Domain planning): general direction for the longer term
- Muddling through: if the environment is in flux this might be your best option
All three types of goal setting have their application.
Rational goals are the most clear and definite from the three types of goal setting listed above. The primary application of this kind of goal setting is for short range only. Each goal of this type should be formulated according to the SMART principles:
- S imply stated and specific
- M easureable
- A s of now: written in the present tense, Agreed with others when required
- R easonable and believable i.e., within your control and influence
- T imed (with a date) and toward what you want
and it should answer the following questions:
- What do I want to accomplish?
- Why am I doing this?
- Who is involved?
- Where is this going to take place?
- When will this goal be accomplished?
Directional goals or domain planning is goal setting for the longer term. The outcome is not predictable. These goals should answer the question: What do I want to accomplish?
This kind of goal setting is applicable when the environment is in flux and the goals are uncertain. It answers the question: What should we do?
Tips on goal setting
To keep focussed you should aim high and visualize those goals. Then focus on one area at a time. Use reminders to not forget about the other areas. Remain flexible and adapt to new situations as they develop.
To keep motivated you should first assess if there is support for your goals. Share your goals and commitments with others. Work on one or two things each day and do the hardest thing first. Use subgoals and reward yourself appropriately along the way. Stay positive and keep active.
To keep learning you should periodically look back and evaluate your goals, work and accomplishments. Be happy about your successes but equally important is to learn from your mistakes.
- The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, ISBN 0671708635.
- Getting Things Done by David Allen
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