Managing yourself

Managing your time and tasks

With three simple questions

One way of maximising your time is to have already planned the tasks you need to do so that you are ready for when that elusive period of time reveals itself and, more importantly, to know as quickly as possibly what specific one to pick with the resources that are available to you at that moment in time.

This page describes a time saving technique that will allow you to identify what tasks there are and how you can quickly pick the right one to pursue when you do find the time – It starts by asking you three questions.

This technique was devised whilst studying for a Master of Science (MSc) in Computing with the Open University (OU), a degree taken whilst working full time in development engineering,
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The Three Questions

Desk top tidy

What, Where and When

Using the method presented below you will be able to place any task into one of 8 classifications that relate to the time and resources it requires. It begins by asking three questions:

  1. Does it require a lot of time (Time)
  2. Does it require a lot of effort/heavy thinking (Effort)
  3. Does it require a computer (PC)

Depending upon your answers and the combination of these answers you will be able to allocate the task to the type of time it requires. You may not be able to do the task immediately but when some time comes along you can identify the time category, then check your list and pick the task that fits that time slot

The table below provides some guidance to the type of time you will need to find for the task that you want to work on; you can then use this to help schedule the work efficiently. Following on from the table are examples and further tips on how to be prepared for using this approach

Time Effort PC The time allocation required for the task 
Y Y Y This task will require forward planning with access to a computer and as little disturbance as possible
Y Y N This task will require forward planning but can be schedule for any place where you can be left undisturbed, perhaps a library or classroom
Y N Y This task can be fitted in when you find you have spare time (possibly unexpected) and access to the computer. This task may not need forward planning as it should be easy to pick up and get on with it
Y N N This task can be fitted in when you find you have some spare time wherever you may be
N Y Y This task will require some forward planning but will not require quite the extent of time as for the earlier hard tasks. If you find you do have some unexpected time on your hands and it is easy to get started on the task without being disturbed, then do so
N Y N This task can be fitted in where ever you may find yourself if you have some time alone for a while
N N Y Instead of browsing the web, do this task and get it out of the way!
N N N This task can be done in any spare moment that you have. Keep a notebook to hand (see below)

General research and study techniques – tips

Some tips to make the work easier:

  • Try to have a dedicated space where you can leave your work when you stop. This will save you the time you would have spent getting everything set up, as well as enabling you to return to exactly the point at which you stopped.
  • Keep a method of recording information with you at all times when possible, whether it is a notebook, phone or some other device you can make notes on. This is useful in a number of ways:-
    1. Writing down anything that comes to mind whilst out and about. It does not necessarily have to be completely clear nor fully understandable, but just enough so you can reflect upon it later 
    2. Making a note of terms or facts that you need to learn and remember. By having these with you, you can glance at them any time and so remember them better (familiarisation)
    3. Writing down any small item related to a task that you need to think more about – Thus if the chance presents itself you can reflect upon it.

 Jenny M L ~  Inspiring the Imagination ~ Contact Me


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