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A delightful guide to how we do things at Mamo - Time Management

Mujtaba Murtaza
A delightful guide to how we do things at Mamo - Time Management

Let’s talk about time management

A lot has been written about time management, providing an endless slew of self-proclaimed tools and frameworks, each one promising to give back time. From The Eisenhower Framework, The Pomodoro Technique, GTD (or "Get Things Done") to blocking out calendars, just navigating an overwhelming marketplace of solutions is time-consuming in itself. Yet, in the long run, not one appears to actually work. Why?

Most tools we've come across assume a prerequisite ability to self-regulate, and that you're a ninja timekeeper already, or at minimum, possess a growth mindset. Clearly, this is not the case for most, and certainly not for those who gravitate towards investigating these tools. For example, buying a shiny new set of DIY plumbing tools won't make you a plumber. In fact, it's more likely to have an adverse effect whereby you end up spending more in the interest of trying to save time and money.

Similarly, using a productivity tool or framework that promises better time management does not necessarily mean you will become better at time management, more productive or even less stressed.

If you're not mindful, these tools can simply cause confusion, whereby, in pursuit of more efficiency, you spend more time managing time management than being productive and efficient. This can be damaging to you, your work, and those around you.

So how can you become a better time manager?

Let's begin with the dictionary definition of time management: "The ability to use one's time effectively or productively, especially at work." (Thanks, Oxford).

With this in mind, here's how we do things at Mamo.

Awareness

First and foremost, moving forward begins with having the right mindset.

Without internal self-awareness and external awareness, we cannot understand what is happening. This is the beginning of discovery and understanding. Without this powerful yet evasive skill, you cannot understand your own abilities (or inabilities) and the impact of what you say and do on others. More specifically, being unable to manage shared time and effort.

Let's take a look at the two different types of awareness.

Tasha Eurich writes:

"Internal self-awareness represents how clearly we see our own values, passions, aspirations, fit with our environment, reactions (including thoughts, feelings, behaviors, strengths, and weaknesses) and the impact on others".

Whereas...

"External self-awareness means understanding how other people view us in terms of those same factors. Research shows that people who know how others see them are more skilled at showing empathy and taking others' perspectives".

Considering both, we're better equipped to understand what we are up against and how we should respond.

Focusing on building both types of awareness helps us understand that time is a limited resource and empowers us to think more realistically (and confidently) about our capacity and capability. And where we wish to give our time and energy.

Organize

Sharpening your axe before trying to chop down a tree (citing Abraham Lincoln) is a good anecdote. Getting organized is a vital foundation for effective time management.

If you haven't already, take a moment to reflect on how you do things. What's your approach? Really, how organized are you? And are you working smart or hard?

Let's dive into how you can organize your tasks efficiently:

Set goals

  • Your work community may already be doing this through OKRs or the like. If so, you should set the same for yourself using frameworks such as SMART, for example.
  • Goals help you prioritize. Take a look at the 4 Ds of time management, a helpful method to help you stay on track and focus your effort on things that matter the most.

Get planning

Setting goals and priorities will help you plan. Planning will help you think ahead and anticipate potential roadblocks. But roadblocks aren't the end of the world. Fight off imposter syndrome and try again; you will learn faster.

Delegate and prioritize

  • There are times when the workload feels like it's the size of Alaska (the largest state in America). It's okay to not take it all upon yourself.
  • Through good delegation, you can relieve the burden. One can either mark a task as a lower priority or ask a coworker for help in a mutually beneficial way. Know that a win for them is a win for you which is a win for the cause. (High-five!)

Adaptability

Understanding the power of awareness builds an accurate understanding of time management and the skills and abilities needed to get organized.

But, measuring time, adjusting and changing priorities, and choosing the right tools to help warrants a little more discussion.

So for this, we've established a few basic principles.

Firstly, there is no "one size fits all". We’ve tried. Every team member has their own strategies that work best for them. That said, here are a few ways our team manage their time:

  • Free up some RAM by finding a single source of truth for your tasks. We use personal task lists managed through Asana, Jira, or Slack.
  • Add Focus Time on calendar.google.com. At Mamo, we champion having at least one no-meeting day (which is a most excellent tool for protecting time).
  • Documentation. We love documentation! We use Guru to help us move faster while ensuring everyone is aligned.
  • Follow the PARA (Projects — Areas — Resources — Archives) methodology.
  • Not discounting good old pen and paper to track daily to-dos.

Project management and productivity tools and frameworks rarely provide sufficient disclaimers or attributions to understanding who you are and how you should integrate them into your day-to-day. So, be careful which one you choose. While obvious, research and then select a solution with a non-committal trial before spending your hard-earned money.

Self-regulation

Asking around, we've found a few familiar traits in people who appear to make it work. These smartie-pants carefully regulate their work. As such, they're also happy, approachable, and always have time for conversation and a little messing around, too.

They tend to:

  • Start the day before 6:00 AM (tucked up in bed by 10:00 PM).
  • Get plenty of sleep (seven to eight hours of sleep is necessary for your body, brain, and heart).
  • Know their daily tasks in advance (organizing them into 'quick wins' over 'long-term').
  • Not to multitask (as it simply doesn't work. One task at a time).
  • Remain focused (keeping distractions at bay, including people, thoughts, and other activities).
  • Know how to say no (particularly in dealing with untimely situations).
  • Keep emails and communication short (they're precise, clear and always to the point).
  • Keep social media under control (yep, it had to be said).
  • Value health and fitness (knowing when to take a break, go for a walk, stretch, and meditate).

Combining some of these principles and marrying them with the right tools will make you invincible. (Okay, maybe not invincible, but you get my point?)

What's most important is that good time management allows you to be more in control of your own mental health, physical well-being and more driven by intrinsic motivation. (Namaste!)

If this resonates, please visit our Jobs page and come on board to help us make finance simpler and friendlier!