“Time is money’ wrote Sir Francis Bacon in his Essays. More than four centuries later, this concept doesn’t seem to have changed – on the contrary we have tighter and tighter deadlines, and every lost minute impacts on the rest of the team.
Time management is therefore essential, not only to increase efficiency, but also to reduce work-related stress.
In a recent article we talked about priority management, which is the first step in the work planning process. In this article we will focus instead on its natural continuation: time management.
5 effective time management techniques
1. Eisenhower Matrix
The Eisenhower Matrix is used to prioritise activities by separating the urgent ones from the superfluous ones, classifying daily tasks according to their degree of urgency and/or importance. This matrix is suitable for those who have many tasks during the day, but do not know where to start and how much time to devote to each one. Once the priorities have been set, it’s necessary to assess how much time is really needed for each task, in order to organise the days more efficiently. We have talked about this in the following priority management dedicated article.
2. The Golden Hours technique
More than time management, this technique focuses on energy management. It all starts with a simple question: when does your productivity increase or decrease during the day? Identify your best hours (the so-called golden hours) and get the most urgent and/or important tasks done during this period of time.
3. Tomato technique
The tomato technique is a time management method developed in the late 1980s by Francesco Cirillo, a software developer of Italian origin. This method of time management is suitable for people who tend to get distracted a lot and involves dividing the day into 25-minute time slots, interspersed with short 5-minute breaks and medium to long 20-minute breaks (for example lunch).
4. “Eating the frog” technique
The name of this technique is inspired by a famous Mark Twain quote (“If your job is to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning.”) and is dedicated to serial procrastinators: the harder (or hated, due to personal attitude) the activity, the sooner it should be completed. What to do when there are many frogs? The advice is simple: tackle the most difficult one first.
The approach is similar to the Eisenhower matrix, but it also puts the individual’s preferences first.
5. Time Block
The Time-Block Planner is a tool Cal Newport created to apply the method developed by him over the years to manage productivity. This tool enabled him to achieve ambitious goals in his career as a scholar, researcher and essayist.
This technique is recommended for people who are constantly moving from one activity to another, wasting time and increasing distraction. All you need is a digital calendar: each day should be divided into different activities, thus creating a more harmonious and distraction-free workflow.
The most common mistakes in time management
The right time management technique can fail completely if many other factors are not taken into account. Here are some mistakes that are (almost) easily avoidable.
- Working in a cluttered workstation is invariably a source of distraction and a loss of efficiency. Storage dedicated furniture is fundamental from this point of view, as it enables to organise documentation and many other items. Want to know more about this topic? You can find our advice on decluttering your desk at the following link.
- Excessive procrastination is always counterproductive: most of the techniques above can help you eliminate the bad habit.
- Trying to remember tasks in your head can only lead to forgetting them and being disorganised. Whether with pen and paper or through a PC, writing down goals, deadlines and notes is essential.
- Skipping breaks may seem like a hard-working person’s move, but stopping for 5 minutes helps you to regain your concentration so you can move from one task to another more easily.