Category Archives: Time Management

Time Management – Important vs. Urgent Tasks

Good time management results in the effective and efficient use of one’s time, and reminds us that: many tasks are important, but not all are urgent.  

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Time pressure is a prevalent source of stress both at college and in the world of work – it is the result of having too much to do, and not enough time to do it all in. The Eisenhower Principle is a prioritization method which allows for the categorization of tasks in a straightforward, no gray areas manner. The principle helps you consider your priorities and then decide which tasks are essential (or important) and which are distractions.

However, before we can continue, we first need to understand the difference between what it means for something to be “important” and for it to be “urgent” – the authors at Mind Tools have defined it well:

Important activities have an outcome that leads us to achieving our goals, whether they are professional or personal. 

Urgent activities demand immediate attention, and are usually associated with achieving someone else’s goals. They are often the ones we concentrate on and they demand attention because the consequences of not dealing with them are immediate.”

According to the Eisenhower Principle tasks fall into one of four categories:

  • Important and Urgent
  • Not Urgent but Important
  • Not Important but Urgent
  • Not Important and Not Urgent

Each category is then assigned a recommended plan of action:

  • Important and Urgent – Do it now.
  • Not Urgent but Important – Decide on when to schedule it in.
  • Not Important but Urgent – Delegate it to someone else.
  • Not Important and Not Urgent – Delete it.

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How to Apply the Eisenhower Principle

The application of the Eisenhower Principle is quite simple provided you are able to make a decision regarding the categorization of tasks, and then stick to it.

STEP 1: Select a task and decide whether or not it is urgent. This will help you in deciding whether immediate action is necessary or not.

STEP 2: Using the same task as for Step 1, decide whether it is important or not. This will help you decide whether it is something you need to do yourself, or whether it can be delegated to someone else.

Priority 1 Tasks

priority-1These are tasks that are both urgent and important. These tasks need to be seen to immediately and by you personally. They will be assigned the highest priority on your to-do list.

However, if you are spending the majority of your time on these types of tasks, you are being reactive, rather than planning your work and actions ahead of time.

Priority 2 Tasks

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These are tasks that are important but not urgent; they need to be attended to personally but not immediately, so you need to schedule in time to address them. It is helpful to assign these types of tasks a beginning and end date – this will also help you with assigning them a priority rating on your to-do list.

Ideally, most of your tasks should fall under Priority 2 tasks.

Priority 3 Tasks

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These tasks are urgent but not important, so they require immediate attention but not necessarily from you. These tasks are usually someone else’s priority, not your own. If at all possible, delegate these tasks to someone else, or decide whether they are in fact a Priority 4 task.

Priority 4 Tasks

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These are tasks that are neither important nor urgent, and so are mostly a waste of your time. These tasks should be dropped as they add no value to your productivity.

How Does Eisenhower Fit Into This?

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The story goes, that in a speech in 1954, former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower quoted the president of a U.S. university when he said:

“I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.”

This is apparently how President Eisenhower arranged and managed his workload and priorities…thus, becoming the Eisenhower Principle.


 References:

Eisenhower’s Urgent / Important Principle: Using Time Effectively, Not Just Efficiently. (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_91.htm. [Accessed on: 21 February 2017].

The Eisenhower Method. (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://thousandinsights.wordpress.com/articles/on-productivity/the-eisenhower-method/. [Accessed on: 21 February 2017].

 

Time Management – Effective Use of To-Do Lists

Do you feel overwhelmed by the amount of work you have to do? Do you sometimes totally forget to do something important, or even miss a deadline altogether?

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These are all symptoms of poor time management which could be rectified with the implementation of a prioritized “to-do list”. By creating a “to-do list” you are ensuring that all your tasks are noted in one place. By then prioritizing those tasks (from most to least important) you are able to plan the order in which you will address them, thus ensuring that those with the highest priority get your immediate attention.

To-do lists are particularly helpful when you are dealing with multiple deadlines and are feeling overloaded as a result. By using them effectively, you’ll find that you are better organised and you’ll experience less stress, knowing that you haven’t forgotten anything. In addition to this, if you prioritize properly, you’ll be focusing your time and energy on high value tasks, making you more productive.

Creating a To-Do List
Step 1:
  • Write down all the tasks you need to complete for the upcoming week or month.
  • If there are large tasks break them down into smaller tasks / steps .
  • Ideally a task or step should not take more than a few hours each to complete.
  • It may be helpful to compile a to-do list per subject you are registered for, or one for personal tasks and one for college tasks. Try different approaches and see which best suits you.
Step 2:
  • Read through your list and allocate each task a priority rating i.e. “A” for very important or urgent tasks, “B” for moderate / ordinary tasks and “C” for unimportant, low importance tasks.
  • If you find that the majority of your tasks have been allocated an “A” for high priority, re-do your list, with a realistic and critical eye looking for what really is high priority and what can be safely demoted to moderate and low priority.
Step 3:
  • Start making use of your list by working through the tasks in order of priority.
  • Once you’ve completed a task in full, tick it off or draw a line through it.
  • Once a day (either in the morning or the night before) spend 10 minutes revising your list  – adding anything new that has come up, re-assigning priorities should things have changed etc.

to-do-list

Prioritized to-do lists are exceptionally helpful with:

  • Reminding you what tasks need to be done for a particular time period.
  • Organizing what order your list of tasks should be done in, so that you don’t waste time on low value tasks.
  • Maintaining stress levels by moving focus away from unimportant, trivial tasks.

Reference:

To-Do Lists: The Key to Efficiency. (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_05.htm. [Accessed on: 16 February 2017].

Time Management – How Good Are You At Managing Your Time?

How often do you find that you’ve run out of time? For some people, it feels as if there are never enough hours in the day to get everything done. 

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Below is a short quiz, courtesy of Mind Tools, the purpose of which is to identify  aspects of time management you need help with. You will be able to find additional and related posts on the Student Wellness Blog that will help you with learning to manage your time more efficiently and effectively.

INSTRUCTIONS:
  • For each statement note which response best describes you and write down the point value (e.g. Q.1 – Rarely = 2 pts; Q.2 – Very Often = 5 pts).
  • Be sure to answer the questions as you actually are, and not how you hope or wish to be.
  • When you are done, total up your points to get your final score.

 

QUIZ QUESTIONS:

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SCORE INTERPRETATION:

15 – 30  Ouch! The good news is that you’ve got a great opportunity to improve your time management and long term success. However, to realize this you are going to need to work on your time management skills.

31 – 45  You’re good at some things, but there is room for improvement. Identify where your time management skills are falling short and with some changes you will most likely find that your life will become less rushed and stressful.

46 – 75  You know how to manage your time efficiently. You may have some areas you’d like to tweak but overall you’re doing well.

As you went through and answered the questions you may have picked up on areas where your time management is lacking. Below is a summary of the main time management areas explored by the quiz, and a guide to what posts you need to keep a look out for to help you improve on them.

Goal Setting (Questions 6 & 10)

One way of managing your timetarget effectively is by setting goals. When you know where you are going, you can then plan for what exactly needs to be done, and in what order. Without proper goal setting, you may waste time on a muddle of conflicting priorities.

People tend to avoid goal setting because it takes time and effort. What they fail to see is that a little time and effort now, saves a lot of time, effort and frustration in the long run.

Visit the Goal Setting posts that are already available on the blog – there you will find tips on how to set goals and avoid common pitfalls.

Prioritisation (Questions 1, 4, 8, 13, 14 & 15)

Prioritising what needs to be done is a vital part of good time management. Without it, you may work really hard but not actually achieve the results you were hoping for becaulmfaos-to-do-listse you were working on tasks that were strategically unimportant.

Most people make use of a “to-do list” system of some sort. The main error with these lists is that they are just a collection of things that need to be done, in no particular order. To work efficiently you need to identify and work on the most important, highest value tasks first. By doing this you won’t get caught out trying to get a critical task done as the deadline approaches.

Visit the Time Management posts already available on the blog for tips on how to create effective, time managing “to-do lists”.

Managing Distractions & Interruptions (Questions 5, 9, 11 & 12)

Having a plan and knowing how to prioritise it is one thing. The next step is knowing what to do to minimagesimize interruptions and distractions when you are working on implementing your plan and getting tasks done. Although interruptions and distractions are a natural part of life, there are things you can do to minimize their time-robbing effects, something as simple as closing your door when you are working, or switching off your cell phone.

Procrastination (Question 2)

I’ll do it later” has led to the downfall of many a student. After too many “laters” the work piles up and any task seems insurmountable. The first step to beating protumblr_n2n4om4orm1rwkrdbo1_500crastination, is recognising that you are a procrastinator. Next you need to figure out why – Are you afraid of failing? Are you not understanding the work? Are you focusing on less important, low value tasks because they are easy and give you a false sense of achievement?

Once you know why you procrastinate you can start planning ways of breaking the habit. Reward yourself for getting the task done, and remind yourself regularly of the consequences of not doing the boring, high value tasks.

Scheduling (Questions 3 & 7)

Much of time management boils down to scheduling your time effectively. When you know what your goals are and you’ve prioritised them, the next step is to create a schedule that keeps you on track, and prtumblr_mzpvr9bfot1r6y6kfo1_500otects your from unnecessary stress.

This means understanding the factors that affect the time you have available to you. You not only need to schedule priority tasks, you also need to leave room for interruptions, and build in contingency time for unexpected events that would otherwise wreak havoc on your schedule. By creating a realistic schedule that reflects your priorities and supports your goals, you are gaining control over your time, as well as keeping a healthy work-life balance.

To learn more about how to schedule in “safety margins” and make the most of the time available to you, visit the Time Management posts already available on the blog.


References:

How Good is Your Time Management? (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_88.htm. [Accessed on: 13 February 2017].

 

New Year Do’s and Don’ts

After three months of summer holidays getting back into a college routine can be a bit of a shock to the system for returning 2nd, 3rd & 4th Years.

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Here are some tips to help get your year off to the right start:

1.  Do learn from your mistakes: Take a few minutes to think about what you would like to achieve this year and semester, and what you may need to do differently in order to achieve it. It could be as simple as investing in an alarm clock so that you wake up on time to make those early morning lectures; or something more concerted like meeting with a lecturer to revise concepts you struggled with last year. Either way, this is a new year and a new start, take advantage of it!

2.  Do attend the first week of lectures: (As well as the weeks that follow after that) It’s tempting to tell yourself that you’re going to ease yourself back into college, nothing happens during the first week back anyway. However, getting back into a routine and college schedule early, as well as keeping up with reading and homework always pays off in the long run.

3. Don’t avoid making appointments to meet with your lecturers: Although classes are just getting started, now is a good time to ask for help and guidance particularly with subjects you are struggling with. Don’t allow what is currently a small issue to become a serious one because you ignored it, hoping it would sort itself out.

4. Don’t suffer from last year “hangover”: Try to enter the new year with an open mind, don’t carry ‘baggage’ (be it a dislike of a lecturer, a subject, a person in your class) into the new year with you. Having the right frame of mind and attitude towards something is half the battle won.

5. Do revise your time management habits: If you were constantly running out of time to work on assignments and feeling like your life was just one big deadline, then now is a good time to review your time management habits. There are a number of posts on Time Management available on this blog.

6. Do keep a positive attitude: Having survived the last year you know how crazy workloads can get, how many late nights and early mornings are required to keep on top of everything. But also remember that you have what it takes to meet these challenges and thrive. Make time for family and friends. Don’t forget to eat healthy and exercise. Remind yourself of what your end goal is and keep your eye on the prize.

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Getting It Right, the First Time!

It’s that time of the semester where you may find yourself sitting at your desk, doing an assessment for the second time because you didn’t pass it the first time. Nothing is more frustrating especially when you have other assessments to work on, and you feel like you have taken a step back instead of a step forward. There is nothing worse than looking back at your first assessment and seeing silly mistakes that resulted in unnecessary marks being deducted.

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Here are Claire Jackson-Barnardo’s (BMH, Sandton PR lecturer) Top Tips on how to get your assessment right, the first time!

  • First impressions count – Ensure your cover page has the subject and lecturer’s name spelt correctly. Imagine you have submitted work to a client and you have misspelt their or the company’s name…
  • Understand the assessment brief – Read through the assessment brief thoroughly before you start the assessment. Make sure you understand exactly what is being asked for. (See also: Understanding Assessment Briefs)
  • Topic and textbooks are key – Make sure you understand and have read the textbook chapters that covers the section your assessment is based on. Use a highlighter and mark the key points in your textbook that you may want to include in your assessment. Keep referring back to the assessment topic to ensure that you have covered everything.
  • Number your answers correctly – Ensure that all your answers are numbered correctly as per the assessment brief. Also, make sure that you answer the questions in the order they have been given in the assessment brief, and double-check that you are answering the question that has been asked. Don’t waste time by including unnecessary or irrelevant information in an attempt to “pad” your answer.
  • “Copy and Paste” is not okay – You aren’t studying for a BBA / Diploma in “cut and paste”, you are at BMH to learn about media. Assessments are there to show that you understand the content and concepts. In the world of work we are interested in what YOU know, not what your textbook or Google says. Cutting and pasting large sections from other sources doesn’t demonstrate any skill or understanding.
  • We don’t steal the work of others – If you are going to draw from or refer to a source / idea that is not your own, make sure you reference it properly. Both in-text citations and a reference list are required at the end of assessments. Educators are trained to detect plagiarism and, believe it or not, we are actually interested in what you have to say. (See also: Referencing and Plagiarism).
  • Word – Is a computer programme designed to help you write properly, so use it. It will tell you if your sentences are too long or if you have spelt something wrong – just remember to change the spell-check option to UK English.
  • Loud and proud – Read your assessment out loud to yourself, a friend, or family member before printing the final version. When you read something out aloud you find all sorts of mistakes in terms of spelling, grammar and flow.
  • Lastminute.com – If you leave an assessment to the last minute, you are not going to pass. Give yourself enough time to complete your assessments properly. (See also: Assessment Due Dates).
  • Ask for help – As an educator, I like nothing better than marking a good assessment. Nothing is more frustrating than marking an assessment where you can see the student did not understand the assessment brief. BMH educators are available to help, each educator has dedicated “consultation times”. Bring your notes, rough drafts, questions and meet with your educator. Those 5 or even 20 minutes of consulting with your educator may be exactly what you need to ensure that you pass…and pass well! (See also: Student-Lecturer Meetings).

Good luck and remember:

You aren’t at BMH to become an accountant! We are in an amazing industry and your assessments are aimed at helping you become a professional member of the South African media industry!