We all want more time, but the best we can hope for is to efficiently manage the time we have. Of course, that’s easier said than done. There’s a never-ending stream of distractions and competing tasks to contend with, not to mention struggles with procrastination, tiredness and other challenges. Thankfully, experts have developed different time management techniques to increase productivity.
What are time management techniques?
Time management techniques involve a set of principles you need to follow in order to be more productive. By using a solid time management method, you can be more efficient with your time, make better and faster decisions, and accomplish more in less time.
Most effective time management techniques
There are lots of different ways of optimizing your time management, and admittedly they may not all work for you. People in different industries, from project managers to developers to marketers, have different ways of working, and what works for one individual may not work for another. So, which technique is best to help you manage time better? The only way to know which method works for you is to try some of them out.
We’ve gathered a few different methods for managing your time. Give them a shot and see which is best for you.
- The Pomodoro Technique
- Time Blocking
- Getting Things Done (GTD)
- Eat the Frog
- Beating Procrastination
- Time Tracking
The Pomodoro technique
The Pomodoro technique is simple, but beautifully effective:
- You set yourself up with a timer, and for 25 minutes at a time, focus on just one task. That means no checking email, social media, or news outlets.
- After 25 minutes are up, mark off one interval (or “pomodoro”) and take a short break of 5-10 minutes. After you’ve accomplished three pomodoros, take a longer break of 20-30 minutes.
- Then start over from the beginning.
By using intervals to complete work, you maximize your focus and allow for several short, much-needed breaks over the course of your workday.
With time blocking, you divide your day into blocks of time that are dedicated to finishing different tasks. Each week you lay out a concrete schedule that tells you what to work on and at what time.
The trick is to look at your upcoming tasks for the week and take stock of what’s coming. Then, schedule time blocks for each task. You can adjust the time blocks each day as new tasks come in or are completed.
Here's an example of a time blocked calendar:
With this method you’re not constantly making choices about what to work on. You can immerse yourself in tasks rather than always being pulled in by distractions.
Getting Things Done (GTD)
The GTD method supports greater productivity by using a system of lists, reminders and regular reviews.
By getting into the habit of organizing all the tasks in your mind, you can focus more fully on your work rather than juggling projects and to-do lists. This technique minimizes stress because tasks become organized and prioritized.
The system is made up of a total of five practices to support you in getting things done.
Collect all of the tasks, big and small, that you can think of.
Determine whether the task is actionable. If so, decide what the next action is. If not, discard the task or put it on hold.
Put everything in its place. That means adding dates to your calendar, delegating to others, putting aside reference material for later, and sorting your tasks.
Review your lists frequently to make sure they are up to date.
Use the system to make confident decisions about what to do next
Eat the Frog
Mark Twain famously said:
“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”
Eat the Frog is a time management method that is all about prioritizing the most important work first (which, as it happens, is the work we are most inclined to avoid).
These “frog” tasks have the most impact on your goals, so get started on them first thing in the morning and you’ll have a feeling of accomplishment for the rest of the day. Note that this time management method emphasizes working in the early hours of the day, when you feel most fresh and focused.
There are a few ways of addressing chronic procrastination. There are many different triggers that make a task or project subject to procrastination. Namely, if it is:
- Not intrinsically rewarding
- Lacking in personal meaning
When you find yourself procrastinating on a task, ask yourself which of the seven procrastination triggers above has been set off. Then find a way to think differently about the task. If a task is unstructured, for example, start by imposing a workflow to ensure you get it done. If a task is boring, like repetitive data entry, make a game out of it - time yourself and see how quickly you can work. If it’s lacking in personal meaning, dive deep into your personal values and make an effort to connect them to the task at hand.
There are other ways of addressing procrastination. For instance, you may feel overwhelmed thinking about the time it takes to finish a particular task, but in reality work gets done in small spurts. If you start by dividing a large task into several smaller tasks, you’ll be in a much better position to start. After you start, you can quickly check items off the list and get a feeling of accomplishment that will spur you forward.
Of course we’re biased, but at Tempo we know that one of the most effective time management methods is simply tracking your time. By making a habit of cataloguing how you spend your hours, you become more conscious of how long tasks and projects take. For example, you can see when you are spending too much time in meetings or focusing on low-priority tasks. With time tracking, you also put more value on your time and learn to prioritize more effectively. The trick is to have the right tool, like Tempo Timesheets for Jira, to make time tracking as easy and automated as possible.
For example, if you use the time blocking method listed above, Tempo integrates with your calendar to populate your timesheet automatically, like so:
All you have to do is click "Log Activities" and your timesheet is complete!
Benefits of time management
There are lots of benefits to managing your time with one of the techniques listed above. Give some of them a try or read more in our blog.