Time Management, or Effective Chaos Management

    Everyone in one degree or another felt the lack of time, the pressure of deadlines, was under stress from forced haste and reprimanded: the next time I’ll definitely keep a close eye on time, I can plan everything in advance, I will not be sprayed on many tasks or, on the contrary, turn into Superman and redo everything at once. So which strategy is most effective? Hurry or not rush? To do sequentially or in parallel?   

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    Superman's Short Flight

    Remember the circumstances in which we usually regret our own inefficiency. When there are several burning priorities, mail is full of new messages, the smartphone is torn from calls, and in the messenger a lot of unread messages. In such a situation, you want to add momentum and work faster, and the brain barely thinks, trying to concentrate on the most important things.

    This occurs when there are too many “inputs”, which leads to a glut in our brain. Therefore, it seems that from the need to respond to all the "inputs" we have a "roof goes". Let's not forget that in addition to the chaos around our brain itself generates chaos in the form of proactive and reactive thoughts.

    Chaos is any input that requires our reaction.

    Meet Mr. Brain, and he has not changed at all over the past 600 years, as evidenced by our favorite British scientists. The left hemisphere is responsible for logic, the right hemisphere is for feelings, the frontal lobes are for working memory (planning, decision making, prioritization), the occipital part is for visual perception.

    We can hold attention only on 7 (± 2) factors that require our attention and increased control. Everything that goes beyond this amount is perceived by man as a threat, the brain gives an alarm signal, blocking the thinking of the frontal lobes and injecting adrenaline to speed up. This mechanism helped a caveman to survive when it was necessary to act quickly when meeting a saber-toothed tiger. Because of adrenaline injection, our ancestor escaped, fleeing, or acted decisively, attacking a predator. The brain has not changed, it still reacts to danger. Now, this brain reaction is disorganizing and tiring. While working on a project, we sometimes try to cover all of the introductory, but we cannot physically realize them, as a result - at the end of the working day we continue to feel uneasy, and even at home we are irritated by any new introductory ones.

    A sense of its own inefficiency pushes for rework, which only worsen the situation. We again and again sit down at work, trying to catch up on what we think is missing. It works normally on sprint distances (processing from time to time) and adversely affects marathons when refineries are permanent. Caught in this situation, we often can not get out of it. Workaholism appears.

    Workaholism - a disease similar to the common cold, occurs from time to time in everyone.

    I have often seen employees refuse to leave the office after work, because there was still too much work left. Worked for 12 hours, although the last hours were ineffective. Take a look at yourself, comrades workaholics! Look at your day, take a retrospective of him and his performance.

    Everything lies on the surface: hyper-responsibility leads to workaholism as often as adrenaline addiction to the generation of problems. The man himself subconsciously creates problems for himself, and then he valiantly copes with them - with a new portion of adrenaline. How to recognize workaholism? It's very simple: workaholics do not rush to compensate for their overtime hours, they work hard, not having time to recover and not deliberately, reducing the quality of their work, and then their productivity.

    “Make your work filled with life, not life filled with work.”
    Stephen Covey

    Sitting on a project from dawn to dusk is not the best way to show company loyalty. Excess work reduces quality and at the same time is expensive for everyone. The company pays cash compensation for processing, and subsequently for lost quality.

    A curious fact: many people who later became famous did not spend too much time on their business.  

    See how the day went by at Hugo, Tchaikovsky and Mozart.
    Зеленые секторы – это время, отданное профессии.

    We work more efficiently and with pleasure

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    "If you do not know how to manage time, then you will not be able to manage anything else."
    Peter Drucker, one of the most influential theorists of management of the XX century

    Our first assistant in time and in-house management is planning. Many, unfortunately, they are neglected. With planning, it is especially difficult for those with energy to hit over the edge: “What planning ?! We need to act! ”Only in which direction to run, why and whether this will make sense, they usually vaguely represent.

    It happens that the manager prefers to solve everything quickly on the fly, since “Time is money” (in the best traditions of Hollywood), or he simply does not have planning, or maybe he is just a management guru from birth (this also happens). But most often he refers to this type of people who want to have everything today, and thoughts about tomorrow seem meaningless. Another common excuse is “There is too much information around to try to plan and organize everything.” This is a completely wrong position.

    Planning in many teams is not considered work, time is not allocated for it, employees follow the leader for this important activity.

    Nevertheless, planning helps to organize chaos (at least in your territory it will no longer exist), to build a delegation (the main competence of the head) and a system for monitoring the execution of tasks, to make optimal decisions. In addition, it is very pleasant to achieve your own goals and receive a dose of well-deserved endorphins.

    The main idea of ​​planning is to see from above your “battlefield”: a comprehensive picture of the world and the situation around you.

    Planning paradoxes

    What does our workflow usually look like? We are busy with a specific task. In the meantime, the number of introductory ones is growing, and we start to get nervous, going beyond the 7 + 2 areas of attention that are comfortable for the brain and lose control of what is happening. The brain, being afraid not to be in time, forcedly accelerates us. Working at top speeds reduces the concentration of attention and the quality of our solutions. There are more problems - we are even more nervous. The circle closes.

    Absolutely everything is impossible to do, since the number of new introductory (new circumstances and problems arising from them) will only grow. Therefore, in no case should not inspire subordinates desire for the ideal. The desire to redo everything and solve all problems harms the overall process. It is critical to prioritize and deal only with priority affairs at a given point in time.

    Below I will give the basic principles that will help to adjust the standard approach described above.

    • If we are late, then we begin to lose control, we must immediately BRAKE! Stop, check priorities, plan the implementation of what is more critical now.
    • Understand that only one thing can be done qualitatively per unit of time.
    • No matter how hard you try to work much faster than the average specialist, you will fail (unless, of course, you are a guru).
    • Never do today what you can do WITHOUT PROBLEMS tomorrow. Read this principle again. Think about it. Comprehend. And you will come to the next - you need to do what is most critical at the moment.

    The main time eaters

    To spend time more efficiently, you need to figure out why it slips through your fingers? Who and what steals it from us? I suggest you set aside one day for the experiment and from the early morning until the late evening to record all your activities with timekeeping. Even if this day is a little out of your ordinary everyday life, you can still see your “classic temporary traps.”

    After collecting the information, you will receive an incomplete list of what undermines your activity. I will cite below the main perpetrators of the decline in performance during the execution of tasks.

    • Unclear objectives (when you do not know the purpose of the work performed).
    • The methodology for achieving the goal has not been agreed upon (when the work is performed in non-optimal ways for the task).
    • No task priorities (when lost in tasks).
    • The inability to say a reasonable "No" to inappropriate tasks (when you take on additional tasks, without coping with current ones).
    • A large number of tasks that require high concentration (when you do not understand what to concentrate on).
    • Perspectives of the tasks performed are not visible (when you do not know the ultimate goals of the task).
    • Lack of self-motivation (when you have no desire to engage in the task).
    • The noise in the workplace (when the workplace is uncomfortable).
    • Telephone calls / e-mail during work.
    • Visitors who come in while you perform tasks, and sometimes come up with new tasks.
    • Insufficient coordination with other colleagues (“fire brigades”: when everyone around them tries to put out the fire that has arisen - tasks that had to be solved earlier, including with your involvement).
    • Insufficient delegation of work to subordinates (when you do everything yourself).
    • Insufficient storage of information (when you spend extra time searching for the necessary information).
    • Sudden meetings (when they arise urgently, without being able to prepare for them normally).

    And, of course, there are three more important personal factors that depend on each of us.

    • Personal lack of organization and lack of self-discipline - the root of all problems.
    • Smoldering conflicts between employees / departments - you need to get rid of this legacy at the very beginning of interaction with colleagues.
    • The desire to collect all the information before making a decision - perfectionism is superfluous, it only slows down the task.

    A source

    Learning to plan

    "Nasty things happen themselves, good deeds require organization."
    Different smart people

    Planning your tasks to solve them more efficiently is not really difficult.

    First you need to fix all the input. To do this, we remove all the information from the head to unload it for strategic thinking. I usually write out all the small things that swarm in my head, on paper or in an intellect card (about this some other time).

    Further, all the tasks are grouped according to common features. We recall that “the elephant is eaten in parts” and decompose the goals and objectives to the level of the event. Decomposition helps to more accurately calculate the resources and duration of the necessary processes. Having broken tasks into specific events, we can immediately delegate them to employees and then control them. Events, of course, immediately add to your personal calendar.

    Now we have a sequence of events that should lead to a goal.

    But life will certainly make adjustments even in the most detailed plan. We will have to revise it more than once, and in order not to deviate from the main course and reach the desired final, we need to set priorities. And it will have to do it all the time.

    For short-term planning, the Dwight Eisenhower matrix is ​​great. The Thirty-fourth President of the United States divided the sheet into four squares and designated urgency and importance of tasks along the axes.

    Realization of really important matters promises a big win. And vice versa: ignoring important matters will bring big problems. Therefore, if necessary, additional resources should be attracted to solve them.

    In the matrix, we have identified the main actions that should be performed depending on the affiliation of the task to the quadrants.

    Having defined priorities, it is necessary to review them periodically in order not to lose something more important. For these purposes, there are "viewing platforms".

    "Viewing platforms"

    The nature of your activity will tell you how often to work. I definitely have a plan for the day, the week. Personal (including family) plans for the month and year. Perhaps you fit even semi-annual plans.

    Routine should be planned in advance on a periodic basis. If we are talking about constantly repetitive daily tasks, I advise you to group them into blocks (work with mail, calls, etc.) and perform them together in a group. The optimal number of mailing approaches is 3–4 times a day (you are not a secretary; I always wonder when I see an open mail client for employees on an ongoing basis, what kind of efficiency can we talk about here), ask: “But what about urgent letters ? The answer is simple: "For everything urgent there is a telephone and personal contact."

    In this case, note that for inclusion in the task you need about 15 minutes. Add yourself this time to "swing." And think about your individual biorhythms. If the peak of your activity falls on the second half of the day, there is no point in breaking yourself, setting up brainstorming at 10 am, and after lunch there is no sense in setting highly intellectual tasks - the body will be busy transforming food into energy and it will not be a thought process.

    TOP-3 effective life hacking

    Source of


    Identify the most unpleasant, but important today and "eat" at the beginning of the day. You will be more comfortable, all other activities will be much nicer, and you will not have such a bright rejection in their performance, because you have already done the most unpleasant.


    Identify yourself an event / action that will be considered the key to your successful day. And do it every day - your days will be more successful. Over time, you will notice that if you do not perform this action, the days will be less successful. In this way, you will turn a small event into the key to your success. For example, my anchor is a cup of black freshly ground coffee without sugar (for more than 7 years).

    Justified no

    Do not take extra unrealistic commitments, try to control the chaos and limit the number of input around you.

    Performance and we

    After analyzing all the processes that need to be implemented on the way to the result, you will certainly find those that can be standardized and automated. Do not neglect this, free people for more important work and save a lot of time. In Japan, it is customary to optimize processes if the benefits of optimization give at least 3 seconds (time equal to a handshake), which will increase the overall performance of the company.

    What determines the productivity of labor in programming, and what does not

    The results of their years of research shared Coding War Games .

    It turned out that productivity is not affected in any way by the amount of wages (although it would seem!) And experience, if a specialist works for at least six months. Developers do not care about the language of the code (excluding asm). The number of shortcomings during the execution of tasks also has no direct connection with performance.

    Most of all, our colleagues affect our productivity: “on average in the hospital,” no one manages to work much better than the whole team (statistically, the difference in productivity differs by no more than 20% from the average value of a department). For productive work, the environment is important - the area of ​​the workplace, silence, privacy, the possibility of distraction by external factors. If the environment is uncomfortable, people begin to look for where to “hide” for normal work. You may have noticed how your colleagues are hiding in the negotiation room to work alone - this is a sign of an uncomfortable working environment. How effective is the working environment, and how can this be understood? The environment factor will answer this.

    Environment Factor (C) = continuous operation time / presence time


    How to organize your own fruitful environment? First, pay attention to the workspace. You must freely navigate in the chaos (there are such apologists) or the order of your workplace. Ideally, select no more than 7 work areas (centers of attention), in each of which organize your thematic groups of materials / work tools (monitors, strategic analysis zone, tactical actions zone, communications zone, etc.).

    Secondly, think over the convenient organization of documents. Since, as we have already found out, the brain cannot hold attention on more than 7 objects, do not create too large folders. Inside there should be 7 ± 2 files / subfolders.

    Thirdly, you should have enough working space for comfortable work and, at a minimum, you should be able to just walk or play sports locally in the workplace (wring out, stretch, etc.), since in our LANIT office there is everything conditions.

    Curious facts about performance (based on Coding War Games)

    • The best employees work 10 times more productive than the worst.
    • The most productive employee is 2.5 times more productive than the average.
    • The most productive half of employees is 2 times more productive than the other half.

    We are preparing for negotiations

    With time and experience gained by all, the number of meetings and business negotiations grows.

    Distribution of time at different levels of the management hierarchy

    So that the organization of negotiations does not eat up much time, I prepared the following memo.

    1. If possible, alternate days for meetings with days in the office, this will reduce the time to travel from office to office with meetings.
    2. Specify the time and format of the meeting, its relevance until its beginning, and order passes for this event. It can be transferred and you will not know about it. At the level of top executives, this happens - not every manager competently manages his calendar.
    3. Inform all participants about the information from paragraph 2. If you are the organizer, ask to prepare for the meeting in advance. This will help make the meeting more productive. The best meetings are not those where questions are asked, but those where questions immediately bring solutions for discussion or approval.
    4. Plan the necessary meetings in your calendar (time to prepare, meeting, road to and from the meeting, preparation of the protocol). You will see that the meeting itself is only a small part of the whole process of participation in it.
    5. Arrive 5-10 minutes before the meeting, and in case of an unexpected delay, do not forget to inform in advance about the late arrival or the need for a transfer.
    6. Prepare a protocol within 24 hours after the meeting. As long as you have fresh results of the meeting, this will allow you to competently and efficiently delegate the execution of instructions and decisions made during the negotiations.

    "Time Management does not exclude bad things, it allows to reduce them to an acceptable amount."
    Alexander Fridman, management consultant

    Above, I talked about personal effectiveness, putting in order the surrounding chaos and prioritizing incoming tasks. If interested, put a “like”, and in the next article I will talk about the tools I use to achieve these goals.

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