Back to school? Find more time with this one simple method

With the start of academic year there is already an endless list of tasks to do. We are all left wondering how we could have more time to manage them all.

The answer lies with our perspective.

Time in business illustration with clock in hands of businesswoman

Even though we might be not be able to name it, we are all experiencing the time paradox. When we are in a rush and under pressure, time seems to be running away with us. But during a boring meeting time seems to be slowing down and dragging. In both situations the flow of time hasn’t changed but our perspective has.

The time paradox is an idea that whether time flows quickly or slowly depends on our perspective. Therefore, to gain time we should be managing our perspective rather than time itself.

With this in mind, four different time approaches have been identified. These are known as time quadrants. These are structured around the importance and the urgency of our daily tasks.

Time Quadrants

  • The procrastinator believes that there is not enough time to complete all tasks. As a result, there is no time to sit and plan things ahead. Due to the lack of planning, all important tasks become urgent. In practice that means completing them in a hurry or putting them off.
  • The yes-person holds a belief that since time cannot be owned, it is acceptable to “give” time away. Such person says “yes” keenly to requests from colleagues, friends and family. That results in directing the focus towards tasks that are urgent to other people but not necessary important to the yes person.
  • The slacker is convinced that there is always tomorrow to complete a list of tasks so there is no need to rush. Easily distracted, such a person lives in the category of time waste and excess. That leads to concentrating on things that are neither urgent nor important. The intention is 5 minutes on social media to read an article but 1 hour later the slacker is still browsing.
  • The prioritizer is the ideal quadrant if we want to have more time! The prioritizer believes that time is a valuable asset. It has to be managed effectively and should not be wasted. Therefore, this approach focuses on planing and scheduling not urgent but important tasks. Don’t worry as these also include breaks, fun activities and some time wasting!

The key to successful time management is to become the prioritizer – at least for the majority of our time.

How we could become the prioritizer?

By using this 3 step formula:

  1. For each goal you may have, identify a list of tasks
  2. Label each task as urgent/not urgent and important/not important
  3. Then deal with each task accordingly:Time Quadrants II
    1. Tasks which are not urgent and not important: TRASH them as they should not be on your list
    2. Tasks which are urgent but not important DELEGATE to others
    3. Tasks which are urgent and importantDO IT NOW with the support of your team
    4. Tasks which are not urgent and importantPLAN TO DO THEM meaning schedule them in your calendar and stick to it!

If you are planning to apply the above method, try also using these useful online tools:

  • Podio – helps you create a list of tasks and priortise them
  • Toggl – allows you to measure your time spending on various tasks