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The Necessary Structures of Time Management

Goal Setting
Managing Expectations

14 April, 2022

Suryakant Mutnal
Suryakant Mutnal

Engineering manager at PayPal

Suryakant Mutnal, Engineering Manager at PayPal, discusses the importance of time management and the necessary structures in order to create internal consistency.

The Overall Roadmap to Success

It is easy to look at a project and determine what all needs to be done in order to achieve success and completion. However, there is a key component that has little to do with what you are going to execute rather than how you are going to do it.

You can put roadmaps into place all you want, but it is time management that will bring efficiency to goal completion. It is surely important to be able to map out where the work needs to be done, with various tasks and routes to delivering a final product; time management and roadmaps are like two sides of the same coin. But we must ask ourselves how exactly can this be done and what is it going to take?

Once you have your goals outlined, it is crucial that you consider just how much time you are going to need to spend on each task. Managing time is a definite way to stay on track and to tackle problems with the utmost efficiency.

Managing Multiple Responsibilities

The challenges you face as a technical leader come from a variety of sources. I’d like to discuss further into the ways in which those challenges can be minimized, and at the very least organized.

When you have to manage hiring, performance reviews, technical design review, 1-1s, goal setting with engineers, stakeholder management, getting tasks to developers on time, along with day-to-day conflict resolution it is an absolute necessity that you have a plan in place to manage your time spent.

Whether you are managing teams that have 10 members or 90 members — time management is your ally.

How to Measure Efficiency

While my role involves being spread out across many different teams and responsibilities, there are ways to help measure your efficiency. I typically gravitate toward making a 30-60-90 day plan. This will help you keep on track of where you need to be and therefore where the teams you are driving will be as well.

Then, I also break planning and goal setting down to weekly, next-day, and daily forecasting. This gives me an overall perspective on what is about to happen, what is currently happening, and needs to happen over the allotted time. This helps create awareness for prioritized tasks, necessary organization, and validates the course of action.

The Pomodoro Technique

I recently dedicated myself to structuring my work day with the Pomodoro Technique. This technique recommends working at four 25-minute intervals. After the first three intervals, you break for 5 minutes. After the fourth interval, you allot yourself a longer 25-30 minute break to recalibrate. Repeat this process among different tasks, or for one large task depending on the priorities outlined for your day.

I think this technique has shown its efficacy on dedicating your focus to one task at a time; not several different tasks all at once. Oftentimes, it is easy to want to tackle multiple things during the same period of time but in reality, organized time proves to be the most efficient.

The Pomodoro Technique is a great way to be able to prioritize and organize tasks during your work day/focus time. Plus, it really encourages you to give 100% since the intervals are only 25 minutes long.

Structures and Their Outcomes

I cannot emphasize enough the benefits of structuring your day-to-day workflow. Whether you are an engineer or technical leader in any industry, mastering time management will help you develop efficient habits that will help you in the long run.

If not the Pomodoro Technique, any proven method for time management will help you with these key factors:

  • Reducing distractions. When you manage your time correctly, you minimize the capacity for distractions. Setting your Slack status to reflect your focus time, and turning off phone notifications will help you maximize your 25 minute intervals. However, it is important to update your team members appropriately so that they know you will be available before or after a certain period of time.

  • Understanding that multitasking is not possible. Structuring your time will help you realize that tackling multiple tasks at once is not the most effective use of your time. Organizing and prioritizing your projects will help increase productivity and achieve completion rather than consistent pending to-dos.

  • Structuring and organizing not only your time, but your priorities will also help you not forget various things on your to-do list. With a large list of tasks items may be easily missed when we are trying to work on everything all at once. You may be surprised to find that as you implement these time managing strategies, your capacity for multiple responsibilities will increase.

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