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Time Management is Not ScaryMany people can't stand the phrase "time management". Describing the disgusting process of compromising fun and interesting work in order to satisfy boring but necessary requirements, it portends a lifetime of 3000-mile oil changes instead of writing poetry; of doing laundry alone when you could be out with friends.
But time management isn't about appointing an inner fascist. Even a successful poet will at some point have to prioritize among writing, lectures, time with family, and other worthwhile tasks. And when you have too much worth doing and an imperfect memory, there's no way to keep track of it all in your head. And then "time management" starts to sounds like something that might be helpful.
Painless Software SchedulingI didn't really know how much I needed some sort of task tracking system until I got my first job after college. I more or less survived the days of 5 classes with weekly assignments, but at work I had lots more little tasks, due at different times to different people. Outside work, I had hobby projects that were accumulating huge, messy to-do lists. Then I read this article. It made some good points:
- Until you make a plan, you have no idea whether it's even possible to do a given project.
- Your plan should consist of specific, small tasks. Each task should be measured in hours, and a task over 16 hours should probably be broken down. Joel's example: if you have "internet integration" as a schedule item for two weeks, you're screwed.
- A schedule is worthwhile even if all the dates slip. By listing out what you have to do, you realize how much there is, and you can address the important things first. And address the irrelevant things... never.
- You should use a simple Excel spreadsheet:
(Image borrowed from Joel Spolsky's Painless Software Scheduling article.)
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