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Friday, 9 July 2010

How important is time to you?

Managing time is a problem for most of us.  We have all heard the phrase "time and tide waits for no man."  How true that is.  If we are doing something we enjoy - like browsing the net then time can fly by.  If we are waiting for someone to turn up and they are late we can find time dragging as we continuously look at our watch as we wait for them.

Many years ago I was lucky enough to be sent on a time management course by the company I was then working for.  Two elements of that course have remained valid to me. Firstly that time management is very important if we are going to make best use of our time.  Secondly that we should  be bold and do things that we have always  thought would be of interest but never got round to.  In my case this resulted in obtaining  a degree in IT through the Open University, even though I had left school at 15 without any qualifications.

Any personal or professional ambition could be achieved according to the course instructor if  wecould break the task down in manageable sections.  He used the example of elephant burgers: if you eat a small portion of the elephant each day then eventually you would finish it!  Relating that to my degree course I had to persevere through six years of study to achieve my goal.  I would also admit that at the end of each year's study I felt certain I would not carry on the next.  Somehow I managed it and made it to the final year.

Looking for ways to manage time, especially if you are trying to study or complete tasks in an orderly fashion can be difficult as we all face many interruptions during the normal working day.  I have recently read an interesting book called the "The Pomodoro Technique" by Francesco Cirillo.  This book tries to address the problems of task management by breaking the day up into seven Pomodoros.  What is a Pomodoro? Well time intervals were originally measured by Francesco with a wind up egg timer that looked like a tomato.  This device was called a Pomodoro which I believe  is tomato in Italian.  The importance of this device is that it makes a ticking sound throughout your 25 minute session and also informs you when the session has ended.  Each Pomodoro has to be completed without any interruptions  otherwise it does not count.  The author recommends four Pomodoros in the morning and three in the afternoon.  Between each Pomodoro you allow yourself a complete break for 5 to 15 minutes.  Then at the end of the fourth Pomodoro you can have up to an hour break.  The concept is that by planning your work in 25 minute sections you will be more focused on your task and achieve more.  Some might say that the whole process is very prescriptive but it is one method of ordering your work and evaluating whether you are achieving your goals.

If you would like to read the book you can obtain a copy from Amazon or if you cannot wait for it to be posted you can down load a copy here.   The down load version is free so that is also an added bonus.

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