3 Effective Time Management Techniques for Productivity and Growth
There’s always one aspect that most businesses fail to check off, to understand the difference between being busy and being productive. Bloomberg research states that 8 out of 10 businesses backslide in the first 18 months.The goal of the business should be to accomplish more in a shorter period. The importance of time management has been ignored but a few who managed to pull it off have reached their mark. Here are 3 of the best time management techniques for work.
1. What is the Pomodoro Technique?
Francesco Cirillo developed the time management technique in the late 1980s. This technique uses a timer to set productivity for 25 minutes without interruption followed by short breaks in between. As a university student, Cirillo used a tomato-shaped kitchen timer to experiment with the technique. Hence, the name ‘Pomodoro’ an Italian word for ‘Tomato’.
How to use the technique?
Once you’re ready to get started, set the timer for twenty-five minutes of solid work followed by five minutes of downtime. After every four checkmarks or slots, take a longer break, 15-30 minutes. What makes this technique effective is because you put all your energy into the 25-minute time frame without distractions.
The goal of the Pomodoro technique is to decrease the impact of internal or external intervention.The key factor to remember while using this technique is if there’s any interference with the work, the time has to be calculated accordingly or the entire activity must be abandoned.
Too often, you might find yourself modifying the timings based on the project complexity and other factors.
What to do after task completion?
After completing the technique, you could use the remaining time to do the following:
Review and edit the work
Think about the learning possibility and improve; How could I do this better?
Update or plan the next set of tasks timed for the Pomodoro technique
Cirillo suggests it’s mandatory to complete the task and let the timer ring. If you find yourself with a lot of time until the ring, you could utilize the time to learn more or update the current tasks.
Pomodoro technique tools
The technique is best used in a low-tech scenario with a basic timer, paper and pencil. Cirillo believes “ Flow and Focus become associated with physical stimuli”.
If it’s too much of a task to stay low-tech, it’s highly recommended to use Tomato Timer, an online tool for this technique. The other effective apps are Focus Booster, Pomodrone, Focus keeper, Focus To-do, Pomodoro timer lite and Marinara timer.
2. The Eisenhower Method of Prioritization
This technique is a proven method to prioritize urgent and important tasks or problems. The Eisenhower method or Eisenhower matrix is a time management process developed by Dwight Eisenhower who once said:
“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important”
This method is split into four quadrants:
Critical and immediate
Critical and not immediate
Not critical but immediate
Not important or urgent
Most businesses devalue tasks that need higher priority. Hence, it’s important to understand and prioritize the workflow accordingly.
How to use the method?
The urgent and important task is completed first based on the order of urgency. Important but not urgent tasks should be filed under later and have a start date and completion date. Unimportant but urgent tasks can be delegated and, not important or urgent tasks should be completely ignored to make optimum use of time. This method leads to long term strategic planning and productivity for the business.
Image credit: Jamesclear.com
The ultimate goal of the Eisenhower method is to filter the noise and make better decisions based on the prioritization framework. Using the first 90 minutes rule is an option if you want to be highly productive each day. This rule is spending the first 90 minutes of the day doing the most important task. According to research, the human body has cycles of productivity during which there are highs of energy and lows of exhaustion. Combine the Eisenhower method and the 90-minute rule to breakdown and filtrate priorities.
3.Getting things done
Dave Allen’s book - Getting things done is a method of time management where you focus on the small tasks building up to the bigger picture. This works by recording the tasks externally, breaking them down and working on them at a later time. This way, there’s no requirement for recalling.
How to utilize the method?
The five stages of workflow namely; Capture, clarify, organize, reflect and engage is used in the method. The collected materials are clarified and organized (folders) by answering a set of questions. The answers could land anywhere in the eight points like trash, someday list, filing list and so on.
The actionable goal is to concentrate on one task at a time instead of worrying about the whole every few hours. Preparation, review and planning are effective ways to get tasks done.
Why is Time Management important?
To use every minute of your day effectively, it’s mandatory to split up the resources, prioritize tasks and follow frameworks. Not only does it improve your decision making but drastically improves the quality of your work. From accomplishing more to not missing opportunities, good time management skills are the go-to method for a stress-free career. Here are some tips to start on a difficult day.
Focus your mind
It’s easy to get swayed by social media when it's all over the place but using a Google Chrome extension like ‘WasteNoTime’ can do miracles. WasteNoTime blocks specific websites while you’re working to maximize the output and retain focus.
If you’re not the kind of person that is tech-savvy, use handwritten notes to jot down the To-do list to keep you on track. If you’re digitally focused, use Google tasks, a built-in feature to help manage your tasks with ease.
Keep your to-do list updated and do not keep adding more to it. If you find yourself checking off the last box on the list, stop right there. Push the other tasks to the next day.
Focusing on 3-5 clear tasks per day is abundant to any business. It could be as simple as writing a blog to updating statuses on social media. Use the rest of the time to prioritise tasks for the next day.
Keep track of every detail
Being organized saves time and keeps you in the loop. Use Google Drive or other apps to sort out and organize your work. Imagine having to go through the endless list of emails to search for information from the client? To avoid frustration in the future, keep track of minute details that come your way.
Failing to effectively manage your time can result in an inefficient workflow, poor quality of work and stressful career. It’s significant to spend time exercising time management techniques as much as reading about them. Making little tweaks to your routine can result in enormous benefits for a lifetime. That said, time management is always a trial and error method. What works for one business might not work for another. Try out different time management techniques before fixating on what works best for you.