Recently, I get people asking me, why do I seem to be doing so many things at the same time, and still accomplish them. They tell me they are already tired out at work, and by the time they go home, they simply have so many other things to do that they have no time to check charts for TA, check fundamentals for FA, write a blog, read a book, etc.
Well, normally, my answer to them would be, it's at the expense of my sleep and free rest time. But in fact, I'm still able to have sufficient sleep and rest, yet complete my engineering work, give tuition, write this blog, analyse my portfolio and go for my regular exercises on top of spending time with my fiancée to be.[I know if my friends are reading this post, and know it is me, they will strangle me :x]
One of the pre-requisites, in my humble opinion, is time management.
Time management refers to a range of skills, tools, and techniques used to manage time when accomplishing specific tasks, projects and goals. Apart from understanding and managing the evils of procrastination, we have also strategies like leverage, goals setting, prioritization. The first three have been roughly touched in earlier blog posts, so I shall move on to prioritization.
What is prioritization?
It is about making the best use of time and resources, of yourself and your team, to achieve the best results. It helps you to spend time wisely, and presents itself when time is extremely tight. With prioritization, you can reduce stress and move forward more smoothly.
There are many things we can prioritize upon. Depending on our objectives and goals, we can prioritize on time required, urgency, value, profitability, opportunity cost, etc. Regardless of the basis of prioritization, the concept remains the same; the more important things get done first.
There are a number of techniques out there to help us in prioritizing what we want to do. Examples include paired comparison analysis, grid analysis, action/priority matrix, urgent/important matrix, etc. However, a cursory glance through these methods tell me that it is mostly unnecessary on the individual scale; by giving a priority ranking to each of the things we need to do, we are already subconsciously employing the 'scholarly' methods. Of course, this could be different on the corporate scale, of which I have no experience.
But for the individual me, mentally planning what's most important to do first is sufficient at times. At other times, it's not because there could simply be too many things to do. What I would do is I would get a notebook, or blank A4 size paper, or perhaps even a whiteboard, and list down the things I need to do in order of importance. As I eventually complete each event or stuff that I need to accomplish, I will strike it off my list. This helps in reducing the stress of constantly remembering what other things I would need to do as well.
Multi-tasking is a term that is very well known by computer nerds.... like me.
In computing, multi-tasking is a method by which multiple tasks, also known as processes, share common processing resources such as a CPU. In real life, multi-tasking is the performance by an individual of appearing to handle more than one task at the same time. However, our common understanding of multi-tasking is something like listening to music while doing work at the same time.
But.... that isn't what I want to mean.
My idea of utilizing multi-tasking to our advantage is the same as that of computer CPUs. Generally, the CPU does not multi-task, but the computer can. Why? Normally, processes take time to complete. What a CPU does essentially is to allocate precious resources to processes that need it the most (prioritization), and then while the process is still running by itself because of some other hardware, the CPU will allocate the precious resources to another process that needs it. When the first process needs it again, the CPU will handle by taking precious resources from another process that has either just completed or is idling or is running by itself, and allocate to this process. In a way, it appears to by multi-tasking.
In real life, there are times when we multi-task in this manner as well. Example: We dump our laundry into the washing machine, and while the washing machine is running, we allocate our precious time to perhaps order groceries from the internet. While the deliveryman is coming, we move on to read a nice magazine (lowest priority). The bell rings, and the deliveryman is here. We put down the book, and collect the delivery, and bring the groceries to the kitchen. There, we prepare the food, and start the fire to cook soup. While the soup is cooking, the washing machine beeps done, and we proceed to collect the laundry. After that, time is then back to reading the magazine. Upon finishing the magazine, the soup is done.
What just happened? We finished the magazine, the laundry, and preparing dinner without waiting for any event to fully complete. If we wait for one event to complete before beginning another, the amount of time to complete all 3 tasks would be much longer! This is what I meant by multi-tasking using the CPU way.
In life, if we can make use of the power of prioritization, and perhaps multi-tasking, we could potentially achieve a lot more within a shorter period of time and not constantly complain that we need more time, or that we do not have time to do this and that. Easier said than done, but why not try it? For a start, get a notebook and list down the things you need to do in order of importance.