I just reviewed my quarterly planning… February is over and I’ve completed only 30% of my self-imposed tasks… And nothing delusions me more than thinking that it will be really tough to achieve the remaining 70%.
Time is one of those resources that you can’t save to use it later. It simply goes by, and not so slowly as Madonna says.
That number makes me think so many things… Am I pushing too much myself? Am I really committed with my goals? Why I don’t have a normal life like my other friends, coworkers and boyfriend? Only one month left and most of the things must be done by March, 31st.
This is not the first time this happens to me… That’s why I’ve made an algorithm to reorganize my objectives in order to obtain the most of a month.
Step 1: Enumerate all your objectives you would like to achieve in a finite period of time in terms of weeks. This period should be reasonably and according to the whole list of objectives you have. This can be hard to estimate. Don’t worry, in the next steps you’ll be able to analyze and refine your estimations.
Step 2: Classify your objectives with the following labels «Projects at Work» (if your work is like mine, you don’t do operative tasks but you get paid to think, investigate and create), «Recreation», «Personal Projects» (assumed objectives which you expect a high level of satisfaction as reward), «This have to be done» (responsibilities that you’ve assumed but the expected reward do not emotion you a lot).
Step 3: Split each of your objectives in tasks. At least two tasks, per objective. If you can split them in a number between 4 and 10, the better.
Step 4: For the average employee, the week has 5 workdays of 8 hours. Even if you usually work more than 8 hours a day, restrict it to 8; and add 4 hours, for a total of 12 hours a day. The other 12 hours should be consumed eating, sleeping, and all those activities that keep you living and healthy.
Step 5: Now, each task should be done in a maximum of 4 hours. So, you can only do 10 tasks related to «Projects at Work» in a week, and 11 tasks to distribute between «Recreation», «Personal Projects» and «This have to be done».
Step 6: This is the hard part, probably your expected amount of remaining tasks for a week is higher than 11. So it’s time to choose which tasks you will schedule for the week and which must be postponed.
Recreation is really important for your wellness. Try to use up to 4 of these 11 tasks for recreational purpose when you have ‘things to be done’. If you think that it is a low number, you may realize that your personal projects somehow count as recreational activities; if they don’t, then you forgot to categorize them as stuff that ‘have to be done’.
When you have ‘things to be done’, you want to complete them quickly to have free time. For some reasons, free time does not exist for you when you know you have duties to do, even when you, just for procrastination, do not attend them. So, the remaining 7 tasks can be splitted in 2 for ‘Personal Projects’ and 5 for ‘Things that have to be done’.
Once you complete this exercise, you may think that there are too many things left that somehow, changing the hours per activity, should fit in a week. Do not change the 4 hour rule! If you complete a task in less than 4 hours, then, if you’re at work time, take a few minutes to drink a cup of coffee, and start a new activity. If you’re out of work time, use the new free time for recreational purpose or attending your personal projects.
So far, this is how I organize my weeks. Sometimes, things happen that affect your planning, must of them can not be avoided. You have to assume that past can not be changed, and keep your discipline.
Eventually, you’ll realize that you now own again control of your activities, ie, you have more free time now… And time, again, can not be saved so used it wisely =)