Huyen Pham

In Vietnam, most of the organizations are still using old style of time management, which is not only out-of-date but also harmful to the system. But, why?

Businesses are changing not every day but every second. Its evolution leads to the transformation of all activities and everything related to work. But if you notice, time management style applied to many companies are still at the very first stage:

Step 1: List all your tasks on the paper.

Step 2: Pick up some A, B, C most important and urgent tasks.

Step 3: Work on them.

time management objective okr google

Image source: toggl.com

In reality, right at the moment we put our first step on the office every morning, works just come along.
With such endless emails, messages, announcements, and countless tasks from your manager and also sometimes from your colleagues.
And when traditional time management tells us to pick up and put works important and urgent the most to finish them first but it seems like every task pump ups to your face is all essential and critical to the system.

On one hand, we are overwhelmed with external (and even internal) information, activities on the Internet, and still hungry for more though they are mostly useless and irrelevant to the job.
These things distract us from working effectively and productively, or, your current task is overlapped by your other works.
On the other hand, we’re subconsciously moving to another tasks as we think that we can accomplish many things at the same time. You normally need more than 2 hours to actually resume what you are doing.
It’s a dangerous idea as your performance and productivity will fall unexpectedly as soon as you stop focusing on doing one thing at a time. And according to a study of US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, “for every additional cognitive task you attempt to juggle, your performance in each task will deteriorate”.

And with the classic time management method, all we care about is the activity and not the result. The feeling when crossing out an object on the to-do list is so glorious and beautiful. This somehow is a motivation for us to keep pulling out others on the list, but wait a minute, do you even care about the outcome? Is it satisfying like the thought of crossing out the task? Without a proper process which a defined milestone, you may likely to exceed the time-bound, and have no idea which step should be done first.

Therefore, can you really choose the most priority work and cope with them or just sit there spend 10 minutes working and get distracted when just applying time management method?

Time flies and deadlines come, that’s when you realize things have not been done.

Then, I guess, that style of management we have used ever since is out-of-date and spectacularly fails us.

That’s not all, remember how Henry Ford redefined the concept of working hour in terms of cutting it down into 8 hours to work a day instead of 16 hours? The result was his employees’ productivity raised. Yet after a hundred year, this time frame stands still, real working hour of one particular person drops down to 2 hours 53 minutes even though there are hundreds of workshops held, thousands of books published or countless app developed to train you to efficiently use it.

OKR tips management work effectively

Image source: periscope.com

So, what could be done to improve this method?
What we can manage is not time (Einstein would tell you so!), what we can really control is:

1. Attention

Turn off the notification, don’t check your email every 5 minutes, don’t switch your tasks constantly (don’t bother your work by another one) in other words, try to throw away all distractions. Don’t compete with time by doing multiple works, your performance only gets worse.

2. Workflow or working process

It seems like we have depended on devices like sticky notes, app and software, etc. to make our own to-do lists and we all forget about the importance of planning and working according to a proper workflow. With a working process including a time bound for each stage, we are able to focus on what critical the most at a moment. Furthermore, a perfect plan should have measurable results which allows us to calculate the success of our work.

3. Top priority objectives

This requires a lot transparency and alignment within your organization. Top priority objectives should be cascaded down to unit-level and individual-level so that everyone will know what their tasks are at a considerable time. Thanks to defined objectives, you and your peers can draw out a perfect working process and align it with time management.

Many leading-industry organizations such as Google, Intel, Spotify, etc. have shifted their organizational managing method to some objective controlling concept like MBO, KPI or OKR. These frameworks all need us to define our objectives. Let’s take OKR (Objectives and Key Results) as an example, some outstanding benefits of this method compared with time management are:

  • Your success or failure are measurable.

  • You just need to focus on 3 – 4 objectives at a time (normally it’s a quarter).

  • You always have the exact workflow for your future results.

  • You are able to achieve more with an ambitious objective/result.