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LEARNING TO MANAGE YOUR TIME
It’s not how busy you are, but how well you manage your time. This is neatly summed up in the Pareto Principle, or the '80:20 Rule'. This argues that typically 80% of unfocused effort generates only 20% of results. The remaining 80% of results are achieved with only 20% of the effort. While the ratio is not always 80:20, this broad pattern of a small proportion of activity generating non-scalar returns recurs so frequently as to be the norm in many areas. Therefore you should focus on results and manage your time accordingly.
How much does your time cost?
The first part of your focus on results should be to work out how much your time costs. This helps you to see whether you are spending your time profitably. If you work for an organization, calculate how much you cost it each year. Include your salary, payroll taxes, the cost of office space you occupy, equipment and facilities you use, expenses, administrative support, etc. If you are self-employed, work the annual running costs of your business. To this figure add a 'guesstimate' of the amount of profit you should generate by your activity.
If you work normal hours, you will have approximately 200 productive days each year. If you work 7½ hours each day, this equates to 1,500 hours in a year. From these figures, calculate an hourly rate. This should give a reasonable estimate of how much your time is worth - this may be a surprisingly large amount! When you are deciding whether or not to take a task on, think about this value: are you wasting your or your organization's resources on a low yield task?
What to focus on
Another very important part of focusing on results is working out what to focus on! Many people work very hard all day doing little jobs that do not actually affect the quality of their work. Your focus will be clear if you succeed at clarifying what you enjoy, understanding what your strengths and weaknesses are, and working out both what your job is and what constitutes excellent performance.
Doing what you enjoy
It is very important for your own quality of life that you enjoy your job. If you know broadly what you like and dislike, you will be more able to move your job towards doing things that you enjoy. This is very important as you are much more likely to do your job effectively if you love it than if you loathe it. Note that almost every job has tedious or unpleasant elements. It is very important that these parts are done properly. It is up to you over time to minimize this.
Concentrating on your strengths
It is also very important to know what your talents and weaknesses are. A good way of doing this is to carry out a SWOT analysis. This provides a formal approach to evaluating your strengths and weaknesses, and the opportunities and threats that you face. It makes a lot of sense to find a job that suits your strengths, and where your weaknesses do not matter. Link goes to Ibba
Understanding how to be excellent
One excellent way of ensuring that you concentrate on the right things is to agree them with your employer! You should ask the following questions:
• What is the purpose of the job? If possible, express this in a single sentence starting with the word 'To' - for example 'To ensure effective distribution in the South East...'
• What are the measures of success? Work out how your employer will decide whether you are good at your job or not. Find out what the key targets to be achieved are, and how achievement will be measured.
• What is exceptional performance? Find out what this is considered to be, and work out how to achieve it.
• What are the priorities and deadlines? You need to know this so that when you are overloaded with work, you know what to focus on.
• What resources are available? This ensures that you are using all the tools at your command.
• What costs are acceptable? This lets you know the boundaries within which you can move.
• How does this relate to other people? What is the broader picture within which you have to work?
If you have answers to these questions, you will know how to do your job in precisely the right way. If you know what exceptional performance is, you can plan to achieve it using all the resources you have available.
Using an activity log
Using an action plan or "to do" list