For teams that run on sprints or similar AGILE software development methodology, good time management is absolutely critical. As part of our Lunch & Learn Series, we learnt about a completely new perspective of time management from Rory Vaden — and that’s to procrastinate on purpose. In this article, we will take a slight twist on what we’ve learnt from Rory and reflect on how the time management tips shared by Rory are applicable and critical to a web design agency.
1. Eliminate tasks
Being an agency means we work on multiple projects, manage multiple clients and liaise with multiple teams and departments — all at the same time. On top of that, we have to deal with a number of issues and crises. This is vastly different when you’re working as an inhouse designer or developer in a company and not an agency. You may still be busy, but it’s a different kind of busy — you’re not working on multiple different brands and projects.
According to Rory Vaden, elimination is the very first step of the Focus Funnel. It’s a simple idea. If you have too many things on your list to do, strike some things out of that list of yours.
It’s a simple rule here at Oangle. Any time that your open issues list runs longer than a page is a sign that you need to do something to eliminate some issues.
Diverging a little from Rory’s concept, we think that there are several ways to eliminate a task from our list.
1.1 Eliminate by manually removing tasks
Some tasks that are left on your to-do list for some time may become irrelevant overtime. For example, the client may no longer want it, or that project has been handed over to someone else. In any case, taking out tasks from our list helps to declutter our workload and helps make it easier for us to plan our time and gauge our effort required for the day. This is the most obvious way to eliminate tasks, and certainly the easiest way.
1.2 Eliminate by delegating tasks
Delegation is something that we found that many of us struggled with. Often, we feel that it is easier for us to work alone as it takes us less time to do it than if somebody else does it. However, when we choose to make the effort to teach someone how to do something, it saves us a lot more time in the long run. In other words, delegation is when we take a look at some tasks and decide that we can trust (or teach) others to do it.
1.3 Eliminate by automating tasks
Automation can happen in big ways and small ways, and honestly speaking, it’s another form of delegation. Instead of delegating to somebody else, you delegate to a script or a machine. At Oangle, we spent quite a bit of time researching and writing automated systems so as to improve our overall productivity.
1.4 Eliminate by concentrating and completing tasks
This should be the last step in elimination, and should probably be done after procrastination. Pick one task that is most significant to prioritise, and choose to concentrate on this one task, so that you can finish it, and hence eliminate it. Concentrating is difficult when fires are burning elsewhere, everywhere. However, many tasks are urgent, but only some are significant. It is critical to be able to identify and isolate the significant tasks from the urgent tasks.
If you are able to have a wholistic understanding of elimination of tasks by these various methods shared above, it is entirely possible to be working on more than 10 projects at any one time and still maintain a relatively short (but more importantly, manageable) daily to-do list. This is because your to-do list is constantly kept lean and trim by a consistent process of elimination. However, we definitely have more than one task on our to-do list per day, and some of them — realistically speaking, cannot be cleared today. What happens, then?
Tasks that we cannot eliminate from our list, we can only choose to procrastinate on. Simply said, it means “I know I have to do it, but I will not do it now”. One good thing about a procrastinated task is that you may not be able to eliminate it now, but you may one day be able to eliminate it, either by completing or delegating it.
This gave most of us a new perspective as the term ‘procrastinate’ was previously used in a more negative context, but now we remind each other to ‘procrastinate on purpose’ for some less important issues. For example — that project that is actually only due next month even if client keeps texting to ask about it? Let’s procrastinate on purpose.
Constantly practice these tips to improve your time management
Time management is a very important skill for agencies — even web design agencies like us. The above insights helped us to be immensely more conscientious about this as a team. Because of these practices, we’re able to constantly handle and juggle our various services and projects. If you’re interested in finding out more about our time management practices as a web design agency or if you want to find out more about the services we offer, feel free to drop us a line!