What is time management and why do you need to get better at it?
We all have 24 hours in a day at our disposal. Then why do some people seem to be able to do more and accomplish more than others in those same 24 hours? They are better at managing their time.
Effective time management needs you to think more critically about the time you spend and what you are spending it on. This requires clarity of what you need to get done, prioritizing your tasks and managing those 24 hours you have in a day. You need to treat your time like the finite resource that it is and budget it the same way you would your income.
Control your time instead of letting it control you.
First some tips and general rules of time management:
- Keep a to do list – If you don’t know what needs to be done, you can not effectively prioritize your tasks. Do not rely on memory alone
- Set priorities and goals – Not all tasks are created equal. Identify your goals and prioritize your tasks accordingly
- Start early – Take full advantage of the day by waking up early. This alone would make you more time efficient than any other method or technique
- One task at a time – We’re really wired to be monotaskers. Our brains can only focus on one task at a time. Studies show multitasking makes us less efficient and more prone to errors
When we think we’re multitasking, most often we aren’t really doing two things at once, but instead, we’re doing individual actions in rapid succession, or task-switchingneuropsychologist Cynthia Kubu, PhD
1. Pomodoro Method
The Pomodoro Method is a time management technique that aims to increase your focus.
The method is simple: You work for 25 minutes, then take a five-minute break.
For every task throughout your day, you divide your time into short work periods (25 minutes) and take breaks periodically (5 minutes).
Each 25-minute work period is called a “pomodoro,” as Francesco Cirillo used a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato as his personal timer, when creating this method.
After finishing a Pomodoro, you mark your progress with an “X” in your to-do list. After completing four “pomodoro” work sessions (100 minutes of work with 15 minutes of breaks), you then take a long break of 15-30 minutes.
Frequent breaks keep your mind fresh and focused.
2. Time blocking
Time blocking is a technique in which you’ll budget your time down into “blocks” for specific tasks.
You identify the tasks that need to be accomplished, then compile an estimate of how much time it would take to complete each task. A rough estimate is fine.
Get your favorite Calendar App open and block the necessary time for each task (a best practice tip is to group together similar tasks). Unlike the Pomodoro method, time intervals are up to you. Whether you’ll block your time in 45-90 min blocks, or 5-10 min blocks is up to you and depends on your tasks. Again set timers and alarms to help you stick to your blocked intervals.
It is incremental that you block time for breaks the same way you do for tasks. This includes not just lunch, but also smaller breaks throughout the day. Blocking time for rest will prevent burnout and will keep you energized.
3. The 2-Minute Rule
It is known that procrastination and indecisiveness are productivity’s worst enemies. The 2-minute rule is designed to eliminate both. It will keep you focused and build momentum.
The rule is built around two questions, the answers to which dictate what action you should take:
Question 1: Can the task be completed in two minutes? If the answer is yes, just do the task.
Question 2: Will the task take more than two minutes? If the answer is yes, and it’s a high-value task, start doing it anyway.
The secret behind the two minute rule is building momentum. Completing even the smallest task provides a sense of accomplishment and triggers momentum. And starting an important task makes you more likely to carry on and complete it anyway.
For most of us a combination of several methods will be most effective. Try out different time management techniques, tailor them according to your needs. Some methods will initially create extra work but it usually proves to be worthwhile. You should practise consistently, a time management method has to become a habit before you can really see the benefits of it.
Got your own time management technique or tips? Share them in the comments!
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