60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, 52 (53 –leap years) weeks in a Year. Seems like a lot of time to get stuff done, but then again, is it really?
Well looking at it in terms of hours, we spend on average;
• 7-8 hours sleeping (varying age groups)
• Around 6 hours bathing, eating, cleaning, travelling, toilet and work breaks
• 2-3 hours general entertainment
• Leaving roughly 8 hours of work
The 8 hours of work translates to 2912 hours within a year and compared to the full 8736 hours in a year, it shows that we spend 1/3 of our lives working. We should therefore produce efficient work results and show progress. Majority of people however succumb to time wasting. This is where time management can come in handy. Time management is a set of rules, skills and techniques in which productivity and goals are achieved through managing time efficiently.
For me personally I find that I fall into the opposite side of the “Pareto Principle”. The Pareto principle is a ratio in which it is know that 80% of effects come from 20% of causes. The law was derived from Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto’s observation where he noted in 1906, that 80% of land mass was owned by 20% of the population. This was later used in business as a rule stating that 80% of sales come from 20% of clients.
The opposite side of the rule is where 80% of work produces 20% of real results. The 80% in this case, is non focused work due to time wasters or multitasking. For many people including myself, distractions come easily in the form of the Internet and the IT world we live in today. With most people working around computers, it is easy to switch between doing work to looking at emails, visiting sites, watching TV/film, listening to music or socializing through social sites (facebook, myspace, bebo). Oddly enough, even at this stage I have realized I am doing 80% of unfocused work and therefore have taken ¾ more time than I would have if I focused.
For productive work to take place, a time, place and situation needs to be set. A timescale to ensure that focused work can take place, an environment free from distractions and a situation in which a person is comfortable. Only once these three things are set can a person truly work efficiently. The timescale works well since most work we do has a certain timeline. It is very difficult for a person to concentrate for the full duration of the work period since the brain starts to tire and distractions kick in. The best method to overcome this is to work for short stints e.g. if a project takes 6 hours to complete, it would be best to work for 20-40 minute stints of focused work providing short breaks are taken after. This way a person actually works efficiently and can take a fresh look at what they do after every break to eradicate errors. To achieve a higher standard of work, sometimes it helps to complete a project under the time line so that it can be repeated more times. This way, proficiency increases and skills are developed further.
A good working environment can affect the speed and quality of the work that an individual produces. For most art students, they tend to work within their bedrooms surrounded by computers, game consoles, television and mobile phones. Working in this kind of environment will slow down productive work since temptations are around. A bedroom is also a bad choice since it is automatically connected to sleeping and relaxing and it is hard to break away from that mind frame. Working in an office is always a better choice since it is supposed to be free from other entertainment form and is always linked to the work that is being done. Filling a workspace with reference material and similar work will allow an artist to formulate ideas and develop styles faster.
By situation, I mean a set mind frame. This is where, at a specific time of the day, a work ethic is built so that an individual knows that that is the time to work, socializing, eating and relaxing are put on hold. This enables the person to get involved with the work produced. A situation also includes, ensuring a comfortable working environment is created.
Looking back on the ways I worked before, it looks like I wasted more time doing stuff I didn’t need to, due to not focusing and getting drawn into the process of working. What I mean by this is; as an artist, when we work we go through a process of working in stages; we mark make, analyze the composition, build foundation, reanalyze the composition, add colour and then finalize. I would tend to get too carried away in the work and not focus on the overall image. Therefore missing certain key stages such as building foundation and analyzing the work, which lead to a point at which the work I produced was not technically good. I would waste more time rectifying the mistakes I could have avoided in the first place if I just concentrated on what I was doing.
When working, since I spent too long doing work without focusing, I would get bored and rely on working with films or the Internet at hand. This meant that during a 2 hour-long film, I would actually spend between 30-40 minutes doing actual productive work. The rest of the time I was pretty much a mindless zombie. I also ended up over working which resulted in me having to snack lots instead of having a decent meal. This lead to me being distracted in ways to get more snacks and also resulted in me getting irritated a lot more. I think by planning out a day and keeping to the times, it may seem as if time is being wasted but in actual fact, more is achieved. I was afraid of setting times for individual work since I preferred to tackle one thing at a time. This method hasn’t actually proven to be successful for me since I would get a backlog of projects. Recently however, I tried to set times within the day by which I would change the work I was doing, I would work on 3D work for two hours and then switch to 2D for another two hours and keep switching within the day. This enabled me to work faster since I didn’t want to waste time before switching work and also allowed m to take a break so that I didn’t get wrapped up in a single bit of work.
For the work projects given to me, breaking up the work involved into time limits and relevance is important for efficiency. The only way to ensure that the most amount of work to be done will be to break into small chunks that are manageable, almost like feeding a child. It is easier for the mind to analyze and deal with small tasks at a time and therefore splitting work in this way should help speed up the time it takes to do work and the standard at which it is done. For a commercial artist this is very important since the more work completed on time the more work available and the more money made. By second year at university, I feel that knowing this and implementing a better time management system will allow an individual to succeed. During the first year, the importance of work lies in learning the fundamentals. It doesn’t matter how long it takes or the quality as long as the basics are set. By second year however, the thought that we are half way through university dawns in and we realize that to get somewhere in the industry, we need to be efficient and have a high quality of work. Managing the two is hard enough, I found that I concentrated more on getting the quality and have now realized that efficiency is what I should have worked on more. Learning how to work faster also helps with quality since quality only comes with practice. With the New Year around the corner, I hope to implement the Pareto rule and arrange my time better so that I can complete projects several times within the timeline. This way I should also improve through constant practice.
To leave you with an odd thought, the weird thing I find with time management is that you don’t notice how simple a concept it really is yet at the same time most people overlook it…