Numerous time management techniques that cater to different business, productivity, and personality needs are available. While some of them are easy to follow, others can be complex. However, you can integrate these techniques into your day to day activities by practicing consistently. Read on to understand time management tips and techniques that can help you achieve your goals.
Practical Time Management Tips to Boost Your Productivity
Proper time management promotes productivity, efficiency, and reduces stress. Here are some tips to help you manage your time better.
Be an Early Riser
We all have 24 hours a day to achieve our set goals. While you may not increase the number of hours in your day, you can prolong your day by rising early. Remember, you need to sleep for between 6 and 8 hours to relax and rejuvenate.
Some people do not need an alarm to wake up. However, if you must use it, then set it 15 to 20 minutes earlier than your actual waking up time. You can increase this interval as your body gets used to the routine. Use the extra time to meditate, exercise, prioritize, or even update your LinkedIn profile. Waking up early every day boosts your productivity.
Adopt an Appropriate Time Management System
The right time tracking sheet can help you boost your productivity and profitability. You can even download the DAD time tracker from Tick Tock Lab, an application that allows you to track your client’s time, projects, and personal time. Here is what you can achieve with TickTockLab.
Use Different Timesheets
You can add multiple time tracking sheets to document your time date. Use these sheets for different tasks like client tracking and billing, time management, and monitoring your company payroll.
Initiate Time Estimates
Setting time estimates is an excellent time management trick you can use to determine the amount of time it should take to complete a specific task. This feature allows you to figure out whether you exceeded your estimated time to finish the role.
Track Time Manually
The TickTockLab time tracker allows users to track the amount of time they spent for both non-billable and billable hours.
The TickTockLab time tracking system also allows you to export and archive timesheets and generate time reports.
Find Inspiration from Audiobooks, Videos, and Quotes
While following a specific routine or to-do list can help you know what you should do at a particular time, it can get boring. Concentrating when you are less motivated can be a difficult task too. Rather than wasting your time executing unproductive tasks, you can use that moment to find inspiration.
Watch or listen to motivational videos and podcasts. You can even print and attach time management tips excerpts on your desk. You can opt for a cup of coffee or take a short walk. Remember, sometimes we all struggle with procrastination when you either engage in less productive tasks or no task at all.
Avoid procrastinating at all costs lest it becomes your way of life. To counter procrastination, you may want to divide large tasks into small doable roles. Doing so gives you a better understanding of where to begin. You may want to create precise timelines complete with the deadlines.
While multitasking can help you increase the quantity of your work, it could affect the quality. Studies suggest that only 2% of people who multitasks can do so effectively. From these findings, it is clear that multitasking reduces your overall productivity. Instead of focusing on multiple tasks, try to concentrate on one job and do it well. You can even allocate a specific timespan on each task to increase your chances of completing it successfully.
Take Short Breaks Frequently
Taking a break in between tasks is an effective time management strategy. An employee working on an 8 – 4 timeframe without breaking will be less productive. However, a colleague who takes short breaks between working is productive and uses their time more effectively. It is worth mentioning that taking shorter or longer breaks stimulate your productivity levels.
Only Take up Tasks that you can Complete Within the Set Time
Before accepting more tasks than you can manage, remember that excellent performers and achievers do less but deliver quality. Prioritizing tasks gives transparency and direction allowing you to start executing tasks, save time, and increase productivity. If you find yourself batching tasks or struggling to manage your time, try focusing on a single job, and complete it before taking additional roles.
Effective Time Management Techniques you Should Adopt
Adopting these time management techniques will help enhance your productivity levels.
Precise time management begins with setting goals and determining the direction you want your life to take. SMART goals is one of the most popular time and goal setting methods you can use. This approach has been in existence since the year 1981 when George T. Doran published “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management goals and objectives”. SMART goals is a simple approach that anybody can adopt. Write down each of your SMART goals in the following criteria.
- Specific. Define what you want to achieve clearly.
- Measurable. Develop criteria to measure progress.
- Achievable. Make sure you can meet your goal with the resources available.
- Relevant. Your goal should accommodate a bigger picture. You have to understand why you need to achieve specific goals.
- Time-bound. Set a precise deadline to indicate when you will achieve your set goals.
Many people hardly set goals. Studies show that the percentage of people with written objectives is approximately 10. These statistics are an indication that; writing precise goals requires lots of thinking, reflection, and effort. When writing your goals, you should avoid writing unclear resolutions that do not motivate or give you proper direction. Writing SMART goals is crucial for your success.
Eat that Frog
Eat that frog is a phrase by Brian Tracy. It comes from the “Eat a live frog every morning, and nothing worse will happen to you for the rest of the day” quote by Mark Twain. In this case, both Mark and Brian emphasize why focusing on important tasks early in the morning is essential.
If you have to deal with more than one job, focus on the bigger one first. Remember, prioritization and time management are closely associated. You can only achieve effective time management if you understand what you should be doing at a specific time. Tackle and complete time-consuming or complex tasks before focusing on other roles.
The Eisenhower Matrix
After writing your SMART goals, divide them into detailed and doable tasks, and prioritize them. Eisenhower Matrix is a popular task prioritization scheme developed by Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th President of America. This matrix advocates for task arrangement in one of the following quadrants.
- Urgent and important tasks. Focus on these first. Urgent tasks are roles that you need to handle right away. They include attending meetings, receiving or returning phone calls, and reading, and responding to emails.
Important tasks help you achieve your long-term goals or things you want to focus on in life. Important tasks form a part of your life or business mission and vision. Invest much of your working time on important and urgent tasks.
- Important but not urgent. Schedule these tasks for execution at a later date. Important yet not urgent tasks include learning, participating in sports, bonding with your peers, or creating. Set some time for these tasks and try to execute them regularly. Many recruiters use this approach.
- Urgent but not important tasks. Consider delegating these tasks.
- Neither urgent nor important. Eliminate these tasks.
Divide your tasks into 25-minute chore sessions or Pomodoros and include 5-minute breaks. Tackle 4 cycles, and then take a long break. In this case, it should last 20 minutes. Francesco Cirillo developed the Pomodoro technique, whose name comes from the Pomodoro-like kitchen timer, which he used to track his work progress. This technique enhances the following time management skills.
- Stress management
- Effective planning
- Saying No
- Working on priorities
- Countering distractions
The Pomodoro time management technique helps you eliminate skipping breaks, improper scheduling, missed deadlines, and multitasking.
Why you Should Adopt the Pomodoro Time Management Technique
Improved time estimations for your tasks.
Taking regular breaks helps you counter burnout and enhances performance.
You get fixed working time and increase your chances of focusing.
It is an effective method of tracking productivity and profitability.
The cons of the Pomodoro technique include;
At the lapse of 25 minutes, you will need to stop working. This part of the technique can be counterproductive, especially if your progress is good. Again, sticking to fixed intervals may not work for everybody.
Getting Things Done (GTD)
Getting things done is not only popular, but it is also one of the most comprehensive time management techniques available. It comprises five steps that allow you to divide big and complex tasks into small and manageable steps.
You will then need to tackle and complete the small steps immediately. The tagline for this technique is “the art of stress-free productivity”. With the GTD technique, you will not only be more relaxed at work, but you will also exercise creativity more, achieve more, and monitor the significant tasks. Getting things done relies on the following steps.
First, you need to seize everything that crosses your mind and put it in writing. These can be tasks, ideas, or anything that you need to remember, like materials to read or educative programs to watch. Write everything down to unload your brain. However, you will also need to tackle what you have written down regularly.
Once you finish the capturing step, you want to evaluate what you have and figure out how to tackle the different items. If a task is not actionable, you should choose to delay, archive, or delete it. However, if the role is actionable, you can choose to execute, defer, or delegate it. If you can complete the task within a short time, then doing it right away would be the best option.
In this step, you should organize your tasks and actions. During the organization step, create main action lists and keep your work under different groups. You may also want to give them context. These groups can include: Calendar, waiting for, next action, and projects. Keep non-actionable tasks in a paper-based or digital archive.
Reviewing enables you to determine whether everything is well updated. During this process, update your lists and eliminate unnecessary tasks. Consider doing a weekly review.
The final step involves working on the predetermined tasks. Ensure you have the proper context for the same. Context, in this case, is the essential things you need to execute a specific task. These could be a team of persons, energy, tools, enough time, or a place.
This time management technique involves blocking out time to work on a specific task. Elon Musk popularized this technique that helps you avoid distractions, promotes effective planning, single-tasking, and setting of priorities. With time blocking, you will avoid spending too much time on social media, missing deadlines, multitasking, improper scheduling, and skipping breaks. Time blocking comprises four stages, as we shall see below.
This stage is where you outline your tasks and determine your priorities.
This stage involves:
Assigning specific time blocks for each task. This approach can include the number of hours or minutes, complete with determined days, beginning, and end times indicated on your calendar.
Your time block can be between 10 minutes and 90 minutes, depending on how important the task is.
Execute less crucial tasks at the time of day when you are less productive. For example, you can do so at the end of the day.
Create longer time blocks to allow better execution of priority tasks. Designate these tasks to the time you are most productive. You can do this early in the morning.
Indicate the day, starting, and ending time in your calendar.
This stage involves the following steps.
Begin working on the first task on your priority list.
Follow your schedule
Schedule and can take regular breaks in between time blocks.
Be flexible about your time blocking plan. For example, if an urgent task comes in, you can bar the right amount of time to facilitate its execution. Tackle pressing roles as fast as you can.
If you notice that a task is taking a shorter time than you had approximated, revise your schedule to accommodate other tasks. If the activity takes longer, then you can re-assign any remaining tasks for the next day.
What are the Pros of the Time Blocking Technique?
- It is a comprehensive approach to tracking your workday.
- It allows you to control your workflow better.
- It is compatible with the deep work concept by Cal Newport because you have to work with a fixed schedule once you focus on a specific task. Like any other technique, the time blocking system comes with various drawbacks, as seen below.
- Unforeseen interruptions can disorganize your schedule.
- Planning time blocks for all your daily activities can be tedious and time-consuming.
Carry Out Deep Work and Avoid Shallow or Half Work
Once you implement the time management techniques we have discussed above, you will have clearly defined goals divided into detailed doable tasks. Further, you will have envisioned and set up your roles on a Kanban board.
At this point, you should pick out and work on the most crucial tasks with ease. Deep work is a concept that facilitates the successful and productive completion of work. Cal Newport developed this concept, and mentioned that; “all intellectual tasks should be carried out in a distraction-free environment that stimulates your cognitive abilities.”
Carrying out deep work helps you enhance your skills, create value, and achieve exclusive results that nobody can replicate. Avoid conducting shallow work or half work. These two concepts result in low-value work that is associated with multitasking. They involve working on numerous projects amid distractions such as social media chats. To beat half work, invest enough amount of time on one task at a time and blocking out all other distractions.
This time management technique involves assigning time periods, in this case, timeboxes to activities. You focus on conducting tasks during the set period and break when the time expires. Sometimes, timeboxing comes with fixed deadlines, the reason why it is ideal in project management.
With the timeboxing technique, you will: ward off distractions, become a productive planner, set your priorities right, and focus on single-tasking. Timeboxing allows you to solve the need to multitask, inadequate scheduling, and missing breaks. Here is how to use timeboxing.
- Outline all your duties on a list
- Determine the goals you want to achieve from these tasks
- Assign more time to important tasks that need more focus
- Evaluate complex tasks and assign fewer time periods on some sections to make them easily manageable.
- Begin working from your first task and follow your schedule accordingly.
- Do not continue working once the assigned time runs out.
- Stop working and take a break.
- Review your achievements and focus on other timeboxes in your plan once you complete your break.
What are the Pros of the Timeboxing Time Management Technique?
- Timeboxing is ideal for a collection of small tasks. Tracking and tackling tasks is easy when you have outlined them well in timeboxes. Deadlines are crucial and this technique allows you to focus on maximizing your achievements before your timebox expires.
- Timeboxing leaves no room for multitasking. It allows you to concentrate on a single task at a time.
- If you are a perfectionist, you will have less time to adjust each detail because you will need to carry out the subsequent task on your schedule.
The drawbacks of this technique include:
- You cannot continue working on a task once the time allocated runs out. This idea can be counterproductive, especially when you are connected deeply to a specific role.
- Sticking to a strict schedule based on timeboxes can be difficult, especially amid distractions like phone calls.
Adopt the 80/20 Rule
The 80/20 rule or the Pareto Principle declares that 80% of your results come from 20% of what you do. This principle allows you to analyze how you use your time and prioritize your preferred tasks against your crucial goals. Invest 20% in your work, and you will gain 80% of your required results.
- Time management techniques play a critical role in our daily lives.
- Understanding essential time management tips and skills will help you increase productivity and profitability.
- Time is precious, and once you waste it, you can never recover it. Guard it by carrying out tasks that add value to your life.
- Multitasking is not as effective as some people opine because it can reduce the quality of your work. The most successful performers across the world do not believe in multitasking. Instead, they focus on the thorough execution of a single task at a time.
Read our blog for more details on proper time management practices.