Everyone seems to be talking about time management in the last years. Why? The answer couldn’t be more simple. We all are just running all the time. We get up early in the morning, eat a quick snack and go to work. We usually eat a sandwich during lunch to save time and continue to work in the office. When it’s time to go home at the end of the day, we need to go shopping for groceries, pick up the kids, do the laundry, make dinner, eat, and still manage to have some time to check the email before you go to bed. And you just spend week after week, month after month, with the same routine. However, all you notice is that you’re getting tired. You don’t see any additional benefit from working so hard, for so many hours, every single day. This is because you’re not using time management.
Time management is what allows you to have a plan and control every task you need to do throughout the day. How many times has it happened to you that you just keep postponing one task in particular? You know you have to do it but you always delay it. The fact is that the lack of a good time management system leads you to procrastination, which relates to self-control issues.
In order to start controlling your time, you need to either develop or improve certain skills like setting goals, planning your future, monitoring what you do to see where you’re spending more time, and prioritizing tasks.
There are hundreds of books published about time management and time management systems. However, they can be synthesized on 5 main themes:
– Defining your priorities;
– Creating a baseline where you can be effective;
– Decreasing the time you spend on the non-priority tasks;
– Actually, do the tasks that are on your priorities;
– The several incentives you can get when you meet all the deadlines you impose to yourself or that others impose on you.
There are many different time management systems that you can use and apply to your life. However, there are 5 that are worth to be mentioned a bit more in detail:
#1: The Franklin Covey Time Management System
Inspired by the Benjamin Franklin work and popularized by The Seven Habits Of Effective People by Stephen Covey, this time management system has been being used by many people. Its main goal is to make sure that you have clear goals. Then, based on the goals, you’ll need to define the priorities on which you’ll focus much of your time.
If you are a disciplined person, this might be the ideal system for you. You’ll need to revise what you did on a daily and weekly basis, as well as to keep evaluating your goals and defining the different priorities and tasks that will appear throughout the time.
When you’re using this system, you can either use a notebook, calendar or lists if you prefer. However, you can also use a time management planner like the Franklin Covey planners and software.
If you’re so completely overwhelmed with your daily tasks that you don’t just have the time to think about your personal mission, then you should look for another time management system.
#2: Getting Things Done (GTD)
The GTD or Getting Things Done system came for the David Allen book, Getting Things Done – The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.
Simply put, the system has its main premise in getting all of the things out of your head and passing them all to just one place. Then, you need to keep reviewing the system.
If you are completely overwhelmed with your daily tasks, this might be a great system to use. One of the best things is that it doesn’t require any planner or software. You can either have all the information on paper or on an electronic format, as you prefer.
#3: The Now Habit
Many people who don’t use a time management system tend to be affected by procrastination. If this is your case, you might want to take a closer look at this system.
The Now Habit, inspired by the Neil Flore work, someone who had to deal with procrastination when he was still a grad student and even when he was already a psychologist, is built around one main concept – “Unschedule”.
When you adopt this system, you’ll need to grab your weekly calendar and fill it in with all your commitments you have for the next week. From classes to free time, from meetings and appointments to leisure activities, from gym visits to socializing, and sleep.
When, during the week, you spend at least 30 minutes on a task, you can “unschedule” it and reward yourself. This will be a way to show you that avoiding procrastination is the way to go. Despite you should start with 30 minutes, you should increment the time as time passes by.
One of the bad things about this system is that it doesn’t cover how you can prioritize your tasks or even how to track your time. So, in case you want to use it, you need to make sure that you can handle these all by yourself.
#4: The Pomodoro Technique
If you’re one of those people who struggles with being focused on just one task at a time, this might be a great solution for you. You can even use it combined with the The Now Habit mentioned above.
The Pomodoro Technique main goal is to keep you focused on one task at the time, giving you a small rest period between tasks. So, you just need to have a to-do list of tasks for the day. Using a timer, you’ll have 25 minutes for each task. When the timer reaches the 25 minutes, you can mark the item with a cross and take a break of 3 to 5 minutes. The break is meant to allow your brain to relax so that you can be focused on the next task only, for the next 25 minutes.
#5: Eat That Frog
Despite it might seem a strange name, it refers to what Mark Twain said: “eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” When you’re referring to time management, it simply means that you need to do the most important and most difficult tasks first thing in the morning, and the rest of the tasks will be much easier and lighter.
When you adopt this system, you’re not only making sure that you accomplish the most important and most difficult tasks every day as you’ll be motivated because you finished them. Especially, if you finish them early in the morning. You’ll feel good about yourself, and you’ll just want to keep doing task after task.
#6: The 4 Hour Work Week
The 4 Hour Work Week is a highly engaging book written by Tim Ferris. Despite the book goes beyond time management, one of the main points he focuses on is in the fact that you need to delegate and outsource the tasks that aren’t related to you. How many times have you looked at a particular task and thought someone specific would be the best person to do it? Well, just delegate it.
Since you’re delegating and outsourcing some tasks that were previously yours, you’ll have more time to dedicate to the most important tasks that only you can do.
When you’re trying to use a time management system, you may need a time management sheet. A time management sheet may be quite helpful so you don’t feel lost and have complete control over your tasks and your time as well. There are also many people who prefer to have a time management course. Despite they exist, a system that you can adapt to yourself is usually better than a time management course.
You can also use effective time management strategies to get the best use of your time. Here are the 6 best and most effective time management strategies you can use:
#1: Keep A Time Log:
To know exactly where you’re spending most of your time, you should consider using a time log. After registering your data after a week or two, you’ll be able to withdraw useful conclusions regarding if you’re using most of your time in the most important tasks or not. You can also try to use a time management sheet.
Defining your priorities is crucial no matter what time management system you’re using. The best and most effective way to accomplish this is to use a to-do list. Make sure that you don’t let it run out of control or you might end up with multiple to-do lists.
#3: Schedule Each Task:
No matter how hard you want to make a task, you may never do it unless you schedule it. Scheduling involves more than just taking note of something that you have to do. It involves commitment that you are going to actually do it on that day, at that specific time.
#4: Organize Your Time:
Having your most important tasks completed the first thing in the morning will help you not only to accomplish them as well as you’ll be motivated for the rest of the day.
Make sure that you consider all the tasks that you should do and the ones that you can easily delegate or outsource.
#5: Stop The Procrastination:
Many people, probably even you, keeps delaying some tasks. And they always have a reason each time they do it. However, the task won’t simply go away unless you complete it. So, why not offering yourself a treat when you complete it?
#6: Stop Multi-Tasking:
Many people see multi-tasking as a good thing. However, it can work both ways, If you keep jumping from one task to the other, you’ll end up the way without completing one single task. And this is something you want to avoid. So, instead of multi-tasking, try to focus your attention on one task at the time.
Regardless of the time management system you use, you need to make sure that it adapts to your lifestyle and not the way around. If you liked this post, make sure to read more business articles.