Managing time in an effective way is a challenge that most people struggle with on a daily basis. There is always too much to be done and time never seems to be enough. While we can’t stretch the length of the day for you, we can definitely help you make the most of the time you already have. Read forward to learn some time management strategies that will hopefully improve your work life and not only.
State your goals
Effective time management can be accomplished only if you have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish. Just performing tasks without a bigger picture in the back of your mind will eventually seem dull and make you lose your motivation. Therefore, it is important to set your goals straight, revise and update your goal list every week.
Make sure your short-term goals align with your life goals. For example, if your short term goal is to finish a project, behind that should be a bigger goal, such as a promotion or acquiring new skills. If your short term goals have no bigger meaning and won’t take you closer to reaching your life goals, then you should revisit and ask yourself what is the reason for doing that.
Once you’ve set your goals and know what you want to accomplish on a large scale, set your focus on effectively accomplishing the daily tasks that will take you there.
Schedule your days
Time management experts came up with different strategies to help people schedule their days more effectively. Here are some of the most popular strategies, which you should integrate in your daily routine beginning ASAP:
1. Twain’s Frog
“Eat a live frog first thing every morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”Mark Twain
The quote above is considered to be one of the greatest time management advice of all times. That is because Twain’s frog is actually a metaphor for the most repulsive thing that could happen in one’s day. If you get that done first thing in the morning, anything that may come after will seem easier in comparison.
Add to that the feeling of satisfaction that you get once you’ve accomplished something difficult. You will understand why it is important to start your day in force with the most difficult task.
2. The Pareto Principle
According to the Pareto Principle, for most events 80% of the results come from 20% of the causes. Therefore, 80% of your success comes from 20% of the work you put into it. And 80% of your work is done in 20% of the time you put into it. Corroborate that with Parkinson’s Law, which says that work expands to fill the whole time assigned to its completion.
If you put 80% of your time into 20% of the results, that’s the opposite of efficiency and productivity. One way to prevent that from happening is to assign a lot less time to each of your tasks than what you can actually afford. If you afford to dedicate 6 hours to a given task, give it only 3 hours in your schedule. This way you will push yourself to use your time more efficiently. And you’ll dodge the Pareto Principle by using the allocated time to the maximum.
3. The Pomodoro Technique
Developed by the Italian professor and productivity expert Francesco Cirillo, the Pomodoro Technique is one of the most effective time-management techniques. People all over the world use it to fight procrastination and get their work done more effectively.
In short, the Pomodoro Technique is based on the idea that the natural human reaction to stress is attempting to avoid it. So if a task makes you feel too much pressure, a small part of your brain will tell you to run away from it. What you will most likely do is procrastinate until the last moment, in an attempt to avoid dealing with it.
However, that natural response can be tricked if you break tasks down into chunks that are a lot easier to digest. Break your work into small chunks and assign 25 minutes for completing each chunk. Most importantly, take a short 5 minute break in between to allow your brain some time to relax and recharge before the next chunk. Every two hours take a longer break of 15 to 30 minutes, then repeat the process.
4. The Eisenhower Matrix
Learning to prioritize is absolutely crucial in order to effectively manage your time. The Eisenhower Matrix is a simple tool developed to help with that endeavor. The matrix divides tasks into 4 categories, depending on their importance and urgency. The prioritization of each category is as follows:
- Important and urgent – to be done ASAP
- Important but not urgent – to be decided later
- Urgent but not important – to be delegated
- Not important and not urgent – not to be done at all
As you can see, the matrix proposes that you only deal with important tasks. The way you fit them into your schedule depends entirely on their urgency status. Unimportant tasks that are due in a short time should be delegated. The unimportant and not urgent tasks aren’t worth the bother, so you should just forget about them
5. The Two-minute Rule
Way too often people set their mind to do something that could be accomplished in a very short time but keep postponing it for different reasons. You are probably familiar to the feeling when you know you need to respond to an email but keep telling yourself: “I’ll do it after I’m done with this [insert current task here]”
However, the feeling that you need to do something stays with you and infiltrates among the thought you are giving to your current task. Eventually it becomes so bothering that you just stop whatever you were doing and send that email just to get it off your mind.
The two-minute rule encourages you to spare yourself the trouble and always do any task that would take less than two minutes right away. No more bothering thoughts and useless stress. Just. Do. It.
Live a balanced life
Effectively managing your personal time is just as important as it is for your work life. Among the most important things you need to watch is getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and getting involved in social interactions.
Schedule your daily program to allow at least 7 hours of sleep, 30 minutes of exercising and a couple of hours spent with family and friends. This will make you happier and more likely to succeed.