Summary of Time Management Methods

Here’s a summary of some of the most popular time-management techniques so you can easily decide which one feels right for you.

~900 words, 5 mins

Do you want to become a productivity Ninja?

We’ve summarised some of the most popular methods so you can easily decide which one feels right for you.

Getting Things Done (GTD) by David Allen

Allen’s idea is that you need to get everything out of your head so that you have the brain power to be creative and focus.

Using his methods, you keep track of everything using an external system to clear your mind freeing it up for more creativity and clear thinking.

His system follows 3 basic steps:

1. Capture

This step involves getting everything down into an in-box – this could be a notepad, calendar, or to do app.

2. Process and Organise

Look at each item and ask yourself “is it actionable?” If yes – would it take less than 2 minutes, then do it now or if not then schedule for later. With every task you to determine what your next action should be. If this is more than 1 then the task becomes a project. Projects should be organised by context. If an item is not actionable then either save it for reference or get rid of it. Allen’s suggests creating a someday/maybe list for things you would like to do in the future.

3. Review

Review items weekly and adjust accordingly. You might find that what you thought was important really isn’t. Review your short term goals every month to reflect on whether your actions are getting you to where you want to be.

Pomodoro Technique

The technique was developed by an Italian University student, when he used a tomato timer to measure 25 minute intervals.

  1. Break down all your tasks into shorter, highly focused tasks which can be done in 25 minutes or less.

  2. Choose a task or project and set a timer for 25 minutes.

  3. After the 25 minutes is up, take a 5 minute break.

  4. Choose another task and repeat steps 2 and 3.

  5. After 4 pomodoro cycles take a 20 minute break.

You should deal with distractions later or during your break. The aim is to stay completely focused on the task during your 25 minute intervals.

You’ll be amazed at how much you can actually accomplish in just 25 minutes by focusing only on one thing.

The Eisenhower Matrix

Supposedly used by former US President Eisenhower. Steven Covey is also an advocate of this system and he called it the 4 quadrant week plan

This system is a way of prioritising tasks by importance and urgency based on the 4 quadrant method.

Tasks are categorized into 4 quadrants based on their urgency and importance.

Urgent tasks are ones that need your immediate attention and important tasks should be related to your long-term goals. By using this method you should be able to work out what tasks are meaningful to you and in turn then be able to deal with them accordingly.

  • Quadrant 1 - Urgent and important

    These tasks need to be done as soon as possible as not dealing with them could have dire consequences.

  • Quadrant 2 - Important but not urgent

    These tasks need to be scheduled in your calendar as they are a priority and need to be done.

  • Quadrant 3 - Urgent but not important

    Try to delegate these tasks as much as possible as they are not that important to you.

  • Quadrant 4 - Not important or urgent

    Helps you to work out what you need to eliminate from your schedule. You shouldn’t really be doing tasks in this quadrant.

You should be spending the majority of your time completing quadrant 1 and 2 tasks. Find a way to delegate quadrant 3 and get rid of quadrant 4 tasks.

Time Blocking

This system focuses on how you structure your day and is probably one of the most popular systems. If you always feel like you’re too busy and don’t have enough time this could be your answer.

With time blocking you are allocating a specific block of time for each area you need to focus on.

Your day will therefore be blocked off into chunks of time and you only work on one area per block. Whilst you’re in that block you only focus on what is allocated to that block.

You could say the time blocking system is similar to a High School Schedule where your day is blocked off for you with a timetable. Time Blocking works the same way but you’re in charge of your schedule. So, for example instead of dealing with emails throughout the day, you choose a specific block of time to check and respond to emails.

The idea then is that you stay focused on each area without being interrupted. You should also schedule a block for play time and interruptions. This will stop you wasting hours on social media throughout your day.

At the beginning of your day or even the night before write down all the tasks that you need to complete and list them in order of importance

Decide when you are most productive and block this time for your most important tasks. Then split your day into blocks and decide what you are going to focus on in each block.

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Written by Sarah Bushnell Sarah is a software tester and writer from Warrington, Cheshire in the U.K. She graduated in Law and General Studies from the University of Bolton and has worked for Tudutu Ltd for over 10 years. She enjoys reading and has a passion for learning about personal productivity in the home and every-day life.