We decided to put up some curtain rails in our new apartment to improve the environment; make it feel more like home.
I pride myself with being able to do DIY reasonably well. So, with my wife itching to see her new curtains up, I decided to do it today.
I had a couple of hours to spare before I was due to meet up with my friends at the nearby bar for our weekly “men’s meeting”, so tally ho!
Simple task, drill a few holes, few turns on the screwdriver, and away you go.
What I did not appreciate was the time to:
- get all the right tools together,
- work out where to drill; making sure it was horizontally level!
- the time it took just to peel off the protective plastic coating on the actual pole
- Cleaning up the mess afterwards,
- putting all your tools back in the store room/workshop.
It actually took me 3 hours to do the first one and another two hours to do the second one.
So, what does that tell us about time management?
Firstly, we are inclined to underestimate how long something is going to take. That report you thought you could churn out in half an hour took an hour. That journey to a client took longer because the traffic was worse than you anticipated.
Most people use their diary as an appointment planner, I suggest you use it as a capacity planner. With modern digital diaries you can set up your weekly routine for one week and it can be set to repeat each week. You can then see what capacity you really have. By setting up weekly routines you can see how long things do really take and what capacity you do really have.
See my short video “The Power of 4” and if you like the idea, you can download the free guide.
Secondly, it is the preparation and clearing that is often the aspect of a task we fail to take into account when thinking how long a job will take, yet it is probably the most important part.
Productivity experts believe having the right environment is important to ensuring you are as productive at a given task as you can be. The right environment will support the quality of your output and help you to avoid distractions.
Next time you have an important job to do, then:
- allow some time for making sure you have all the things you need to do the job
- make sure you minimize distractions by putting your phone on voicemail
- shut your door or find somewhere where you will not be disturbed.
I expect you may have read these ideas before, but it is always worth reminding you. It is the simple, obvious things in life we often forget.
My wife was very pleased with the result and so was I. Now I know how long these things take, I might outsource it!!
Passionate about time. Enjoys helping those who want to improve.
Following a career in Sales and Marketing, Trevor became a business and management educator working for Universities, F.E. Colleges and commercial clients in the areas of Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Marketing and Management. He was a member of the Institute of Directors and the Chartered Institute of Marketing as a Chartered Marketer.
Now he works writing and blogging on Time Skills based around his book the Myth of Time Management.