This is a guest post written by Sierra Skelly
Time is possibly our most precious commodity. It’s one thing that no amount of money or hard work can give you more of. Once the moment is gone, it’s gone.
That is why it is so crucial to prioritize your time effectively. By utilizing time management techniques, you can become more effective at your job, have a less stressful life and have a greater impact in general. Of course, there are varying strategies that will work for each individual, but it is important to find what might work for you if you want to improve your time management skills.
Below we outline five types of popular time management techniques:
1. The 80/20 Rule
The “80/20” rule, which is also known as Pareto Analysis, is an idea that works from the concept that 20% of your actions result in 80% of outcomes. From there, Pareto asks you to think of prioritization in terms of 6 steps:
- Indicate problems related to your issue (i.e. you are constantly late on deadlines)
- Identify the root causes (you tend to get distracted by emails, or spend time on social media)
- Give a number score to each problem with higher numbers representing those that are direr
- Collect problems by theme, keeping all the ones with the same root causes together
- Add up the group’s scores and look to prioritize the group with the highest score first, followed by the others
- Start working
2. Block Out Units of Time
By breaking down tasks into manageable units, you will be able to tackle everything efficiently. Setting a time limit on a task also makes it so that you will not get fixated on one thing (like current emails) when you also have other projects to attend to.
Another important aspect of setting up units of time is to build in natural breaks between units. If units are an hour-long, make sure to take a stretch or break after the unit is done. It will help you change your focus to the next task at hand.
3. The Urgent-Important Matrix
Also known as the Eisenhower matrix, this was a technique that President Dwight Eisenhower would use to prioritize when faced with a difficult decision.
He would put tasks in one of four quadrants — sorted as urgent or not urgent and important or not important. The most vital tasks would end up in the important/urgent or important/not urgent categories. Tasks that are urgent/not important might be delegated to someone else. Those that fall into the not important/not urgent category, could be avoided completely.
4. Parkinson’s Law
This law states that any work will fill the time you are allotted to complete it. Procrastinators out there know exactly how this works. The way to use this law to your advantage is to set strict deadlines, limiting the time you have to do something. Sometimes it helps to give yourself a generous deadline for a task and then cut that in half. For short term projects, try working on your laptop only on battery power. That built-in timeline will be a good motivation not to waste time.
5. Eat the Frog
Mark Twain once said that if you eat a live frog first thing in the morning, then your day can’t possibly get any worse. This method of time management has you get the hardest tasks, or ones you are avoiding, out of the way at the beginning of the day so that the rest of the day gets easier for you. If you put off tasks that are most troublesome, they will only get more difficult to accomplish.
These five techniques are just some of those that work for certain people — there are many more to discover as well as easy charts to help you decipher meanings and usage. In order to find out what will work for you, try them one at a time and in combination.
Eventually, you will come up with the set of tactics that are best for your work habits and result in your successful improvement. If you need more help, check out the infographic below that covers nine different types of time management techniques and the people they work best for. They even include a flowchart to help you find the best method for you.
This guest post was written by Sierra Skelly
Sierra Skelly is a creative writer and content marketer from San Diego. When she isn’t creating compelling content for clients such as USA.edu, you can find her reading a murder mystery novel or hiking by the beach.
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