my way of time management (1)

Posted by tetley at 2020-04-17

Pictures from the Internet

In the 2014 Spring Festival Gala, a song "where has time gone" touched hundreds of millions of viewers in front of the screen, and also aroused the resonance of countless people. As a college teacher, I ask myself this question almost every day: where is the time?

When chatting with friends, I often joked that I was an entrepreneur, with a lot of time and endless work. In Hong Kong Colleges and universities, they have to rely entirely on themselves since their first day as an assistant professor: just like registering a start-up company, one person holds several positions, recruits (attracts students), strives for investment (applies for funds), develops products (publishes papers), wins reputation (expands influence), and hopes to be listed successfully (gains tenure). Like entrepreneurship, time management is extremely important to the success or failure of academic career.

During the Spring Festival holiday, I wrote four articles about time management. On the one hand, I will introduce several time management books that have a great impact on me, on the other hand, I will share my experience with my friends.

Today I'd like to introduce two books:

Priority setting: the 7 Habits of highly effective people;

Setting up the system: getting things done;


First, let's talk about Stephen R. Covey's seven habits of highly effective people.

Versions in both languages were purchased in 2003 and 2013

Through the introduction of seven habits, this book guides us to achieve personal and public domain improvement. In terms of time management, the most important thing is the Eisenhower matrix about how to set priorities. The matrix classifies all transactions into four categories according to their importance and urgency. For college teachers, the matrix looks like this:


Not urgent


Category I business


Urgent questions (prepare PPT for class tomorrow)

Things completed within the specified time (write recommendation letter for student's work application)

Category II Business

Preventive measures

Make plans to identify new development opportunities (plan research direction in a few years)

Building relationships (looking for opportunities to work with industry)

Exercise, family and leisure (annual vacation with family)



Category III Business

Some emails, some reports, some meetings, some public activities

Category IV affairs

Most mail

Activities to kill time (swipe wechat, go to social networking sites)

An enjoyable activity (watching a TV play)

If this is the first time you've met this matrix, take a few minutes to think about the following:

How do you arrange these four kinds of affairs in your life?

What is the ideal processing sequence and time allocation?

Are you finished? Let's take a look at what habits says:

Many people give priority to the first category (important and urgent) affairs, so that they are exhausted in the role of fire fighter for a long time (up to 90% of the time), and have to balance their emotions with the fourth category (unimportant and urgent) affairs (occupy the rest of the time). Others focus their time on the third category (unimportant and urgent), mistakenly thinking that they are doing the first category, but they don't realize that these things are only important to others, but not necessarily to themselves.

What's the ideal way to deal with it? Unimportant (category III and IV) transactions should be ignored as much as possible. Do the first type of transaction first, then the second type. Interestingly, habit suggests that we should spend more time on the second type of transaction, because persisting in doing so can effectively reduce the number of transactions in the first type. In other words, planning early is better than fighting fire.

In my opinion, just realizing that "importance is better than urgency" can greatly improve our quality of life. After we know the priority, what should we do?

Build system

Let's talk about David Allen's "getting things done: the art of working without pressure" (for short, "getting things done"). Compared with Stephen's methodology, David is a thorough doer. The GTD (getting things done) time management method proposed by "getting things done" is popular all over the world, because it solves the following problem: how to build a system to control everything easily and freely when the whole day is full of affairs?

The books bought in 2005 have been read many times and recommended to several colleagues

Specifically, GTD has two basic ideas:

Clear the brain: grasp all the things that need to be dealt with (present, future, some time in the future; large, small, or not) and put them all into a reliable logic system (such as Notepad or time management software) that is separated from the brain. This can greatly reduce our psychological burden, let us change from "fear of forgetting things" to "calm down to do things well".

Processing: for everything in the system, either delete (such as the fourth type of transaction), or let others do it (such as the third type of transaction), or do it by themselves (such as the first and second types of transactions). If you decide to do it yourself, turn it into one (or more) specific action steps, each of which should be very specific. For example, "revise student thesis" is not an appropriate step, because it may take several days to finish. A better way is to create an action step for each chapter to be revised. If there are too many steps, build a project to manage a series of action steps. In a word, we should make clear what we should do next and what we can do later.

Whenever we have free time, we just need to choose an action step from the system. Is it concrete enough? But there seems to be something missing.

What is it? It seems that GTD didn't tell me how to do a lot of action steps efficiently. For example, when we first go to work in the morning, we are very energetic and can work for one or two hours in a row. But with the passage of time, energy and willpower gradually subsided, and by the afternoon, we could only do some trivial things. How to control the pace of work to ensure high efficiency of the day? Let's talk about it tomorrow.

Summary of time management:

Prioritization: priority over urgency. Planning early is better than fighting fire.

Build a system: clear your mind and do things calmly. Focus on the important and refine the steps.

Author introduction

By Huang Jianwei

Brief introduction: Professor of the Department of information engineering, Chinese University of Hong Kong, director of the laboratory of network communication and economics, IEEE fellow, outstanding lecturer of IEEE communication society, global high cited scientist in the field of computer science of corewellian, and expert of Shanghai thousand talents program. International expert in wireless communication and network economics, won the international best paper award nine times. Click "read the original" for details.

Written in the end

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