In December of 2009 I posted a blog called Pareto Principle
The 80-20 Rule (applied to time and task management) basically means two things to me:
– Limit tasks to the important to shorten work time
– Shorten your time frame to ensure heightened levels of focus
Following these two principles will allow you to focus on execution with a very clear deadline.
Remember in high school or college when a teacher assigned a term paper three months in advance? What most of us did is procrastinate until the very last minute to get it done. When you think back on that experience, can you remember the final days or hours before the paper was due and the intense focus you had on completing that task?
That same level of intensity should be utilized in your professional life as well. I am not saying that you should freak out management by doing nothing for weeks and then pulling a handful of ‘all-nighters” to complete a project. But what I do advocate is to create short, compact time lines to immerse yourself into projects. Block out that time on your calender so you can focus on the project. NO PHONE CALLS, NO E-MAIL. I don’t care if you are a programmer, outboard engine mechanic or a writer; this act of compartmentalizing a project into a compact time line and then executing with intense focus to complete the task in my experience produces the best results.
Working on a project a little at a time far in advance of a deadline is ineffective. That’s because there is a ramp-up period each and every time you start working on a project. What people tend to do who perform a “little at a time” is attempt to multitask. The illusion that you can effectively multitask is the biggest time waster of them all.
QUICK TIP: Keep your calendar empty. Some of the most effective time managers I’ve met guard their calendar’s with their life. They will not schedule meetings too far in advance, so that they can remain nimble and thus shorten their work time. If something important comes up last minute they are able to make time for it on their calendar. In addition, don’t be afraid to say “NO”. If the meeting, event or task you are being asked to do isn’t in alignment with what’s important to you politely decline.
Tim Ferris: 4 Hour Work Week Blog: How to Learn Any Language in 3 Month
@about.com: Pareto’s Principle: The 80-20 Rule