Unlike what most productivity gurus try to make us believe, it is more common to struggle with time management and self-discipline than to be a productive record-breaker. As stated by author Tony Schwartz in his New York Times article, “human beings aren’t designed to expend energy continuously”, so we can’t expect to be naturally prone to getting a hundred things done in a day.
Even so, both our personal and professional lives may constantly seem like they require some extra time. To help us tackle several tasks and fulfill our daily responsibilities, time management techniques can do the trick and get our brains to work.
Let’s get to know five time management techniques that can fit your routine and workstyle to help you keep your tasks up to date.
Why Is Time Management So Important?
Time can be deceiving. It may often feel like we have an endless supply of time, but time is actually a scarce resource that can never be replenished. Learning how to use it wisely is one of the best pieces of knowledge we, as humans, can ever acquire.
In the end, time management is a fancy expression to explain self-management. We will always have the same 24 hours per day to complete our tasks, so learning how to divide and manage such a limited amount of time is all about learning to work more efficiently, avoid distractions, and maintain focus.
To keep things practical, here are a few benefits that one can observe when practicing efficient time management:
Improves Your Performance
When getting better at time management, you’ll learn how much you’re able to achieve each day and how long the tasks take you. Soon, you’ll spend less time deciding what to work on and more time getting down to business.
You’ll become self-disciplined, focusing on only the most critical activities and avoiding time-consuming distractions. You’ll become the type of person who beats procrastination to a halt and presses toward your objectives.
Levels Up The Quality Of Your Work
You can put more attention and thought into your job when you aren’t continually rushing to meet deadlines. Time management helps you improve your work quality by allocating enough time for each task, even giving you substantial arguments to negotiate deadlines with your team.
You won’t have to sacrifice your sleep schedule to finish jobs anymore. With a smart timetable, you’ll be able to fulfill all your duties without jeopardizing your wellness.
Reduces Your Stress
With a disorganized routine and schedule, it is easy to feel like you’re always busy but never really accomplishing anything. According to the McLean Hospital, poor time management can lead us to stress and anxiety, as we’re more likely to keep mulling over the things we didn’t do.
Good time management makes you feel in control of your own time, as you prioritize your to-do list and plan the leftovers for the following days. You’ll know you’ll have the right time for the right tasks, setting your mind at ease and allowing it to rest.
Helps With Personal And Professional Relationships
Managing our time wisely also means setting aside some quality time with our significant others to nurture solid and healthy connections. While time management helps you complete all your tasks with ease, it also allows you to have some free time to improve your quality of life.
Similarly, time management skills usually don’t go unnoticed by colleagues and superiors, as it helps you become a more reliable employee and can bring your way some valuable professional opportunities.
3 Time Management Techniques to Try
Now you know why time management is so important and how it can effectively improve your personal and professional lives. So how can you learn to manage your time wisely?
There are endless theories and thoughts about the best strategy to manage our time better. Even so, there are a few techniques that prove over and over to be efficient means to help people learn how to manage their time and make it an everyday habit. In this short guide, we’ll be going through three techniques that we believe can actually make some impact on your routine.
The Pareto Principle
You may have heard once or twice the famous motto “work smarter, not harder”. When industrial engineer Allen F. Morgenstern externalized this iconic quote in 1930, he might have had in mind something that the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto stated a few years prior about the 80/20 rule.
The Pareto Principle or the 80/20 rule theorizes that 80% of results come from 20% efforts. That might seem utopic at first, but it’s empirically proven that such a concept actually applies to several different fields of knowledge. For example, Microsoft reportedly fixed 20% of the report bugs but eliminated 80% of errors and crashes as an outcome.
The principle is quite the same when it comes to time management: you’ll tackle 20% of your priority tasks to 80% of overall result or progress.
To implement this technique in your daily time management strategy, you must first know what your tasks for the day are and then identify which will have more impact on your goals. You can ask yourself:
- Are any of these tasks stopping my projects’ progress?
- Does anyone depend on me to finish this task?
- What will I be able to do after I finish this task?
After setting your priorities straight, you can now choose to complete them during that time of the day that you are most productive. It might even take only 20% of your time!
The Eisenhower Matrix
The Eisenhower Matrix is another well-known technique for optimizing our time. Created during World War II by President of the United States Dwight D. Eisenhower, this concept is about understanding your priorities and managing your tasks by urgency and importance.
In short, urgent tasks are the ones that demand immediate action and that can result in stressful consequences if not dealt with in a short time. For example, answering an angry request from a client can be considered an urgent task.
On the contrary, important tasks sometimes don’t need to be tackled immediately but are critical to accomplishing significant advances and long-term goals. Networking with that prominent marketing manager you found on LinkedIn isn’t urgent but can play a great part in your plans for your career.
Indeed, there are the “in-between” tasks that are urgent and important or not urgent and not important but need to get done. To learn more about the details of the Eisenhower Matrix and understand how its quadrants work, jump to our article, The Eisenhower Box, after finishing this one!
The Pomodoro Technique
While the previous techniques focused on dividing your time by priorities, the Pomodoro Technique is all about creating work sessions with resting time to decrease the probability of getting distracted too often.
A traditional Pomodoro session lasts 25 minutes with a 5-minute break at the end. After completing 4 Pomodoro sessions, you are allowed to take a longer 15-minute break. If you get distracted during a work session and deviate the focus from the task you were supposed to complete, the rule is that you should restart the timer.
Even so, like with any other technique, we can adapt the length of the Pomodoros to our work style. For example, you can do sessions of 30 minutes, 45 minutes, or even an hour and then have more extended breaks. Many timer apps already come with a Pomodoro option, and some “study/work with me” videos on YouTube also work as timers.
If you want to dive deeper into the works of the Pomodoro Technique, you can continue learning with our article The Pomodoro Technique: 6 steps to get things done.
That time management can help us lead a more productive and balanced lifestyle, there is no doubt. Learning how to use our time wisely, optimize and control it is one of the essential skills we should all learn through the course of life. And sooner is always better than later.
Akiflow can guide you while learning to manage your time and tasks better. With our all-in-one platform, you can improve your productivity while using any of the techniques mentioned above or none at all. Start Akiflow’s two-week free trial today and get things done up to 10x faster!