Time Management Techniques for Busy People
We all have the same amount of hours each day. You can’t store time, borrow it, or save for later use. You can only decide how to allocate it, spending it on activities of higher rather than low value. Time management is a game of choices: projects to pursue, tasks to complete, routines to follow.
Adopting good time management techniques in your life is about simplifying how you work , getting things done faster, and doing things better.
By doing so, you’ll have more time for play, rest, and doing the things you love .
Remember: everyone is different.
Writing your own time management rulebook, you’ll discover that there are really enough hours in a day for everything you’d like to do. It just takes a bit of rearranging and re-imagining to find them…
1. Organize You Work Around Energy Levels
Productivity is directly related to your energy level.
Find your most productive hours at the time of your peak energy and schedule Deep Work for those periods. Do low-value and low-energy tasks (also known as shallow work), such as responding to emails or unimportant meetings, in between those hours.
If you are a morning person, do your most critical work first thing. After you’ve had lunch, your energy might be low so it’s a great time to clean your desk, clean emails or update spreadsheets.
Plan your work around your energy levels, scheduling critical work for peak productivity times.
Focus on identifying your energy by day: Tuesday seems to be the most productive day for most people, but find your own patterns.
Map your work and energy levels in a spreadsheet for a couple of weeks until you uncover your productivity patterns.
Spend a few minutes each evening before going to bed to write down everything you need to get done tomorrow.
Make planning a part of your night-time routine and save yourself time and worries in the morning. Once you wake up, you’ll be able to just get to work.
2. Start the Day with Critical Work
Find your most important task (MIT) for the day and tackle it first. Your MIT should be the one thing that creates the most impact on your work. Getting it done will give you the momentum and sense of accomplishment early in the day. That’s how big life goals are achieved: small continuous efforts, day after day.
Each day, identify the most crucial tasks to complete and tackle it first. Once you’re done, the day has already been a success!
3. Prioritize Tasks
How to prioritize your work is an essential time management technique. Projects, however small or large, need clear priorities.
You want to prioritize your “true tasks” first, the tasks that actually move the needle of your goals. To help you find them, use a productivity hack Eisenhower Matrix Prioritize “true tasks”: urgent and important to-dos that have a direct impact on your goals.
Here’s the step by step:
Write down all your tasks. Don’t worry about the order (for now), just write everything you need to do
Now identify what’s urgent and what’s important. After each task, mark them with “U” for Urgent and “I” for Important. Tasks can have one, both, or none. If none, you’ll need to purge them
Now we need to assess value: look at your “I” tasks and identify the high-value drivers of your work. You want to find which tasks have priority over others and how many people are impacted by your work
The next step is to estimate the time to complete each task. Order them from most effort to least effort
Finally, insert the tasks into the Eisenhower Matrix. You now have a complete overview of all your work tasks
4. Delegate Tasks
Using your Eisenhower Matrix, you’ll find that some tasks are urgent but not important. When that’s the case, the best you can do is find someone who can complete these tasks for you. You don’t have to do everything yourself. Delegating or outsourcing some tasks can be a great way to multiply your efforts and get more done.
Delegate or outsource urgent but not important tasks to multiply yourself and keep you focused on the most important work.
Here are the top things you need to know to delegate efficiently:
- Find to the right person: whoever you’re delegating the tasks to should have all the necessary skills and is capable of doing the job
- Provide clear instructions: write down the tasks in a step-by-step manual be as specific as possible
- Define success: be specific about what the expected outcome is and the deadline to have the task completed
- Clarity: have the tasks explained back to you and offer clarification when something is unclear, rewriting the specifications if needed
5. Automate Repetitive Tasks
Technology has finally reached a point where we can automate a lot of our daily operations. By automating a few of your tasks, you save hours per week. You can then use that time for Deep Work or taking breaks. Putting some of your daily tasks on autopilot is key to working smarter Use technology to automate daily repetitive tasks and use the newfound time to perform Deep Work or rest.
6. Set Time Constraints
Become more productive when you allocate a specific amount of time to complete a specific task.
Parkinson’s law states: “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.
So, if you reduce the time you have to complete a task, you force your brain to focus and complete it.
Set deadlines even when you don’t need to. Scheduling less time to complete tasks and force your brain to focus.
7. Eliminate Distractions
Distractions hurt your productivity and focus.
When you lose your focus, it can take you twice as long to get back into the groove.
Half an hour completely focused on a task is more productive than 2 hours switching between tasks. Eliminate distractions from your work to avoid task-switching costs.
Here are a couple of hacks to eliminate distractions from your life:
- Turn off all notifications on your phone, computer, and tablet
- Leave your phone in odd places to prevent you from finding it
- Use “Do Not Disturb” on chat systems, such as Slack
- If you have an office, shut the door
Have a “To-Don’t List”
In Mathematics, there is a problem-solving technique called inversion . You start with results and work backward to calculate the causes. Inversion is a powerful tool because it forces you to uncover hidden beliefs about the problem you are trying to solve. You need to think about how to minimize the negatives instead of maximizing the positives.
Let’s say you want to improve productivity. Thinking forward, you would list all the things you could do to be more productive. But if you look at the problem by inversion, you’d think about all the things you could do that would diminish productivity.
Enter the To-Don’t List.
Create your own by writing down all the habits you want to quit and activities you wish to eliminate from your life. Think about your possible workday long meetings with people you don’t like and boring repetitive tasks and work from there.
Create a To-Don’t list with all the habits you want to remove from your life. Use it as a guideline of what you don’t allow in your life.
8. Batch Similar Tasks
The main idea behind batching is to collect up a group of similar activities and do them all in one sitting.
You can work efficiently on multiple tasks without losing your flow if the activities require similar mindsets. Batching forces your brain to be focused on one type of task at a time.
Batch similar tasks and complete them at one time. Batching reduces the start-up and slow-down time, daily clutter, and improves focus.
To discover which tasks you should stack, start by writing all your activities for the day and week. Now identify the ones that call for similar mindsets and batch them together. Try the batch and rearrange tasks if necessary.
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