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Wednesday, September 17, 2014 at 5pm

Time Management Techniques – Top 10

time management

A part-time MBA, or any part-time study for that matter, is a huge commitment of time and resources. The former is unfortunately finite. I manage projects and teams that are spread across continents, multiple time zones, deadlines and on top there are the class assignments, group projects, and readings that come with a demanding master’s program. It’s the constant juggling between a full-time job and weekend classes that makes it all the more important to use your time effectively.

There are already hundreds of articles on this topic. I wanted to point out some very basic behavioral adjustments that have helped me over time. Here is my time management techniques top 10:

1. Write it down

There are tons of things to do as a part-time MBA, meetings to attend and small, easily-missed requests or tasks. So, in order to stay on top, write down each and every task that needs your attention. Use a tool like Google Keep  to help you.

2. Prioritize, as much as possible

The management side of time management is that not everything needs your attention right now –so, prioritize. Not just in your head, order the tasks in your list. Again use tools to help you with this.

3. Don't do what is not important 

Don’t try to do everything. You have goals and targets to meet for your part-time MBA, so focus. Don’t waste time doing what is clearly not going to help you reach your goals.

4. Channel your energy in the right direction

It’s kind of similar to 3, but I want to emphasize the fact that you need to set your calendar, tasks and priorities in a way that channels all your resources towards the goal. Just cut the waste as they say in ‘lean’.

5. Set deadlines

However small or big the task is, try to set a deadline for it and stick with your time management deadline. Whether it’s by the end of the day, in one hour, by September 21, whenever; give due respect to the important tasks in your list begging for your attention.

6. Don't try to be perfect at first shot, iterate

A mistake many make. But as has been proven and documented by all agile champions and lean organizations, you don’t need to be perfect first time. Just try to get things done and move on to the next one for the best time management. You might need to come back to it, but that’s ok, iterate. 

7. Don't overdo it

Only put in the effort needed, not more. Your time can be used more productively elsewhere. At the beginning of my career, I used to get frustrated after spending days on a presentation or document that was meant to show technical data but nobody really cared if the left side margin was a little more than the right side margin on the page.

8. Learn to close the tasks – shorten the to-do list

It’s so much more fun to strike out an item off the to-do list than to add one. Even though you’ve set a priority list, if number 3 on the list just needs five minutes, get it off the list! You’ll feel a sense of achievement.

9. Don't go solo

Actively ask for help, don’t try to do everything alone. I find it more fun to work in teams. As a part-time MBA student, it also helps build stronger relationships and in the end you’ll be able to accomplish more. Take group studies at schools for example; we’ve been able to double or even triple productivity compared to what we could have achieved doing it alone.

10. Relax, take a break when not at your peak

The most important of my time management techniques in my point of view. If you’re tired or stressed out, it’s hard to be productive. So, take a break from working and studying, and do something fun, engage in some kind of sport and recharge your batteries before getting back to action. You’ll be able to achieve more in the same amount of time.

These techniques have helped me a lot, but maybe others have better ideas. Let me know how you manage your time to increase productivity below the line!

About Sameer Saran

Sameer Saran is an electrical engineering graduate from India, currently pursuing his MBA at CEU Business School in Budapest, Hungary. Even after almost 14 years of association with the semiconductor industry, he is still fascinated by the tremendous amount of learning and growth opportunities this field offers. He has lived and worked in India, France and Germany and is currently working with Intel in Munich, in its mobile communication division. His professional interests lie in operational excellence, new venture development and the use of technology to uplift under-developed sectors of society. In his free time he enjoys playing tennis, reading, cooking and would one day love to see vegetarian cuisine go mainstream in Europe!

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