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Time management - Combining tasks



Combining tasks

General

This is a very simple method for not reducing your workload but helping you to manage them better in the time available.
When you examine any of your tasks it is a simple matter to consider:

  • What tasks can you do at the same time?
  • Is there any common ground or overlap of the tasks?

If either of these criteria apply you can carry out more than one task during a set time period.
Provide resource levels don’t prevent it.

Certain tasks lend them selves easily to this technique. For example, telephone calls can be made at any time; in a taxi, airport lounges or in hotel rooms.
These shorter tasks can be more easily fitted in to spare chunks of time.

Many people are extremely productive even in their later years because they have learnt to use their time wisely.

Areas to consider

In order to become more productive you have to achieve more in the same amount of time.
However, you could extend your working day by getting up earlier to carry out some activities you enjoy, for example exercising.
It is easy to play tapes in the car which could be work related or educational, for example, learning a new language.

You may wish to use your lunch hour for a relaxing purpose other than just eating, for example, go swimming, eat in a park for a change of scenery.
The key is to review what time slots you have in the day then consider what you can fit into them. The aim is to make this process easy to do.
It is not an exercise to fit in a lot more work for the sake of it, otherwise you will soon end up on that downward spiral of reducing performance.

If you are on the telephone why not read over outstanding material or sign off documents.
These are simple tasks.

Look at tasks you may do ‘on paper’ where the use of computer technology can help.
Less paper means less filing and it is often easier to update computer related information.

Criteria

Whether you are trying to improve the home or work situation try to find some way of measuring your productivity.
If you can do this and see obvious improvement why not reward yourself?

At work. It may be easy to measure productivity in terms of ‘items produced per day’. You may decide that completing all tasks by 4.00 pm is sufficient.
At home. You might be able to create time to spend with your partner or children. Completion of 75% of outstanding items on a ‘to-do’ list could suffice.
If typically you only get time to spend with your family once a week your ultimate target could be 7 days of the week.

When ever you get to improve on your productivity give yourself a reward.

Sometimes you will fail to achieve any significant progress. Analyse the reasons for this and try to take corrective action.

Culture

It doesn’t matter whether you are at home or at work but if there is a culture of flexibility and helpfulness then persons are usually quite happy to take on other tasks even if they are not in ‘job descriptions’. This positive attitude will help a lot of tasks get done that might otherwise fall by the wayside.

Look for other ways to better manage your time and try them out.

When you look at the Time Management of your activities don’t do it in isolation, be aware of the effect on others as well.

Non - PRINCE2 information