Time is our main resource, which everyone tries to use as effectively as possible. Unfortunately, not knowing how to manage our time correctly or giving in to the devious clutches of procrastination, we can put ourselves in a state of despair and self-doubt. Luckily, there are time management techniques and methods that can help you control your time and become more productive while spending less of this valuable resource. Let’s explore how time management techniques can make your life better and increase your team’s effectiveness at work.
Why Do We Procrastinate?
Before introducing time management systems and calling on willpower to help, it is necessary to understand the causes of procrastination. It is often confused with laziness. The distinguishing feature of procrastination is a feeling of guilt. A lazy person does it with pleasure. A procrastinator does not work or relax. He is constantly tormenting himself with self-criticism and derogatory thoughts.
Procrastination is nothing more than a constant desire to put things off. There are different theories about the causes of procrastination, but the most common are the following:
- fear of big tasks;
- fear of failure;
- lack of personal motivation.
Why do we so often run out of time and procrastinate? The answer is simple — we do not know how to properly allocate our resources, both time, physical, and psychological. Add to this fears and insecurity, and failure is guaranteed. Time management can help you solve all these problems if you approach the issue without fanaticism and with awareness.
Time Management in History
Time management is one of the essential aspects of the successful existence of any enterprise. Time management refers to the technology of organizing time and increasing the efficiency of its use. The question of how to manage one’s time has been around for centuries. At the beginning of our era (about 2000 years ago), the Roman philosopher Seneca advised Lucilius on managing time. The Italian scholar and writer Alberti, who lived in the XV century, claimed that people who knew how to manage time usefully would always be successful in any field. Industrial revolutions influenced the development of time management. The need to manage the coordinated work of hundreds of people has forced the search for new ways to manage time. Since then, time management techniques began to expand rapidly, helping millions of people to be more productive and, most importantly, happier.
Choosing The Right Time Management Strategy for You
Humanity has invented a lot of time management strategies through trial and error. This is your action plan to achieve your goals as effectively as possible. We offer you six of the most common options. Choose three of them and try to stick to their principles for at least a week. You can change them to other options if you understand that it doesn’t work for you.
Planning frees up time. You should always plan and think on paper. If a goal is not on paper, it does not exist. A to-do list is a kind of map that will keep you on track to your goal. Working with a to-do list on the first day increases productivity by 25%. Prepare a list of tasks to be done tomorrow in the evening. When you come to work, you’ll always know where to start your day. After completing the next task on the list, be sure to cross it off. This will make you feel satisfied with your work, increase your enthusiasm, and energize you. Plan for a day, week, month, and even a year.
Prioritizing allows you to effectively manage your to-do list by assigning each task a different level of importance. Once you have identified an important task, assess the consequences if it is done or not done. A critical assignment has serious consequences if it is not completed on time.
Forget about multitasking
Many people think of multitasking as a gift that helps them achieve more. However, studies show that multitasking impairs productivity by 40%. People who multitask don’t spend as much time on assignments, don’t get deeply into them or solve them as well as those who concentrate on just one thing at a time. They have to spend time switching from one process to another constantly. Try to concentrate on one thing and don’t take on the next one until you’re done.
Use time management apps
With the help of modern technology, keeping track of your time is becoming easier. Monitoring software and time tracking applications help us analyze where and how we spend our time. This is especially relevant in the context of team management. With the help of employee monitoring software, a manager can track the efficiency of each person in his team by analyzing their idle time, log in/out, find distractions (apps, websites) and build processes so that the efficiency of each employee will be at a high level without creating stressful situations and uncomfortable working environment.
Find your golden hours
Experts suggest calculating your golden hour. At this time, the body is awake, maximally focused, and concentrated on tasks. You can only accurately determine the boundaries of this time on your own. Observe yourself during the week and write down the data when it was easiest for you to work. Try to perform the most difficult tasks for you exactly in this period.
Split big tasks into smaller ones
Remember why we procrastinate? Because we are afraid of big tasks. When we break a big task into parts —subtasks —, it doesn’t seem so grandiose and scary anymore. It is easier and more desirable for us to accomplish it. We just have to perform it step by step, advancing toward the goal. And crossing out the next achieved objective, even if it is small, inspires us to move forward.
Five Time Management Techniques That Can Change Your Life
Once you have chosen strategies, it is time to select the most effective time management techniques to help you achieve your objectives.
American President Dwight Eisenhower created this scheme. The matrix has four sections for tasks: non-urgent and unimportant, urgent but unimportant, important and non-urgent, and urgent and important. Divide your tasks into sections, and you can find out what you spend the most time on and which tasks you should pay more attention to. This is a great way to prioritize.
Eating the Frog
The frog in time management systems is the most unpleasant thing you have to deal with. And, as the ancient story goes, if you eat a frog in the morning, nothing that day will seem harder to you, and your mood will be great because nothing more unpleasant can happen. In the same way, we should treat the most challenging and most responsible things that cause us the most anxiety. Do them first, without putting them off! Then you will feel a surge of energy and will be able to spend the rest of the day more effectively.
The Pomodoro Technique
Francesco Cirillo invented this system to make it easier to prepare for exams. It helps people who are easily distracted to concentrate. It is also a good way to control how much time you spend on a particular task.
Here’s how Pomodoro works: you take a timer and set it for 25 minutes. After that, you focus on your work. When the 25 minutes are up, you rest for five minutes and then do it all over again. After four cycles, you take a big break for half an hour.
The technique of bundling similar tasks will help you get your schedule in order and accomplish more. Try to group similar tasks and do them in bundles. This will allow you not to switch and effectively perform all similar tasks at one time. Review your to-do list and think about the tasks you can combine. Do you have one urgent email to answer? Answer all of them at once. Do you need to buy a sauce for your meat? Write a list of groceries you need to buy in the next few days, and do them all at once.
Getting Things Done
Getting Things Done is a productivity system invented by business coach David Allen. Its basic principles are as follows:
- Record all your tasks and ideas in one place, called the Inbox.
- Sort the contents of the Inbox from time to time by assigning priorities and deadlines. Arrange notes in folders according to their contents — work, shopping, hobbies, home, etc.
- Do revisions — discard unnecessary notes, cross out completed tasks, move materials that are no longer relevant to you to the archives.
- When you have everything planned out, get to work. Tasks that can be done in a few minutes should be done right away. Others can be delegated or put on a calendar.
Easy-to-follow Time Management Tips You Can Start Using Today
- Write everything down — The most critical and painful reason for unfulfilled tasks and broken deadlines is that we simply forget. Write everything down: from haircut appointments to important meetings.
- Plan not only your tasks but also your rest — Everything should be in harmony. Reward yourself for each completed task with at least 2-5 minutes of rest.
- Get rid of distractions — Social media, friends’ calls, a favorite TV show, or a chatty colleague can be very distracting. Identify your distractions and time-killers and get rid of them.
- Set reminders and timers — These helpers will remind you of everything and help you switch from one task to another, and they should not be underestimated.
- Delegate and ask for help — If you get stuck on a task and don’t know how to finish it, just ask for help — no need to waste time inventing a bicycle if your colleague already knows how to create them.
- Make a planning process enjoyable — Buy a nice notebook, a pen in your favorite color, stickers, or a multifunctional app. Planning will stop being boring and become fun.
- Change your time management strategies if they don’t work for you — Don’t give up on time management if one of the techniques doesn’t work for you. Try it, experiment, and you will succeed!
- Reward yourself for accomplishments — A chocolate, a walk in a park, a cup of coffee, or a vacation — make yourself feel like a hero, even if you just have to survive a nervous meeting.
- Find or create your perfect working atmosphere — Set up your workspace in a way that makes you feel comfortable and convenient to work there. Need candles? Put them next to your laptop. Do all the things that help you get into the work atmosphere.
As you can see, you don’t have to change your life drastically and do everything on a timer. You can choose those techniques, strategies, and time management tips that will be most comfortable for you. Try to follow at least a few tips from our article, use a few techniques, and you’ll see results the same day. Don’t let procrastination take over, and be productive!