Saturday, August 04, 2007

Setting Your Limits

clockMaybe you've got this time management thing all figured out. If so, then I congratulate you. Personally, I always feel like I get to the end of the day and there are all of these things which didn't get done -- some of which had the potential to generate revenue! Where did all that time go?

I picked up a book from the library a few weeks ago called "The 4-Hour Work Week" by Timothy Ferriss. He espouses a lot of ideas, tips and techniques in the book, some I'm more comfortable with than others. One that caught my attention, though, was the idea of setting "unrealistic" deadlines for yourself.

The idea of this goes back to the concept that a project grows in scope and complexity in proportion to the time you allot for it. If you have 24 hours to complete a 10-page research paper, you can probably get it done without too much difficulty. If the time span becomes a week, the project becomes more involved and might require several days of research. Allow yourself two months and the your mental image becomes something akin to Mothra attacking Tokyo.

As a self-employed businessperson, I often have work I would like to do on my business. I have no specified deadline for them, so you can imagine the internal resistance I have to working on them. I decided to try to apply this concept to see if it would work for me.

One of the things I've been meaning to do is start posting articles on I figured that I could just repurpose some of the many articles I've written for other things over the years. I knew it would take me a while to do this, though, as I'm not a particularly fast writer. So, with my first article, I decided to allot myself 3 hours to do the rewrite. Then I decided to become "unrealistic." I made it 20 minutes instead.

They say a deadline has a wonderful way of focusing the attention.

I missed that first deadline. It took me 22 minutes.

So, I'm figuring that this might help my business a little. I'm starting to apply it not only to my own projects, but also to those for my clients as well. I'll let you know how it goes. Give it a try yourself. I think you'll be surprised.

So, what time management tricks and techniques do you use?

1 comment:

Jacki Hollywood Brown said...

One time management tip that works for me (work at home Mom) is to sort my "To Do" list into time blocks such as: 5 minute tasks, 10 minute tasks, 30 minute tasks....weekend tasks.

This way, I can fold the laundry as I am waiting for the kids to brush their teeth before we leave for Church and I don't start a 30 minute task of repairing a zipper.

When you get proficient at certain tasks, you will be amazed at what you can accomplish in 5-10 minutes!

I have also found that breaking large "weekend projects" down into 30 minute (or less) tasks can make the task much easier to deal with.

The added benefit of dividing projects into 5-10 minute tasks is that you can delegate these tasks easier (to the kids) and it is enough to keep them occupied but not long enough so that they get bored and quit.