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How to Manage Your Time with the Most Effective and Proven Time Management Techniques?

It can be hard to manage your time. Different distractions pop-up throughout the day which demand your attention. Time management is essential for making sure you get the most important things done. So how to manage your time with the most effective and proven time management techniques?

Why time management is important

There just doesn’t seem to be enough hours each day. Countless crises in the office, errands in and around the house, there just doesn’t seem to be an end to your to-do list. You feel swamped and overwhelmed. Stress and anxiety take a hold of you while you go home and think about all the stuff you still have to do. Or even worse, you continue working from home till it’s almost midnight. It’s enough..

Time management can offer a practical solution to your dilemma. There is enough time per day. It’s not about doing everything, it’s about doing the right things. It’s about prioritization. Proven time management techniques can offer a way out of the rush of today’s life and the stress that comes with it.

How time management can help you

The days at the office seem to be filled with work. When you have just finished a project, two new projects are assigned to you. The harder you work, the more jobs seem to come your way. Time management can help you prioritize and focus on the few things that truly matter.

Different time management techniques can be used to get the results you want, which might include:

  • Getting more stuff done;
  • Reduce stress;
  • Meet deadlines;
  • Make smarter decisions faster;
  • Set and achieve goals.

There are different approaches to time management, each technique has its advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a look at a well known time management system: Getting Things Done.

How to manage your time with Getting Things Done

The Getting Things Done methodology focusses on these core principles: Collect, clarify, organize, reflect and engage.

Step 1: Collect

The first step within the GTD system is to collect your open loops. This can be done by usying a ‘collection bucket’, like a physical in-basket, paper and pen or note taking app.

Many open loops you collect will come from your own thoughts, others are external and come from an e-mail from a client. The collection stage functions according to these rules:

  • Every open loop must be in your collection system and out of your head.
  • Use as few collection buckets as you can get by with.
  • Empty your collection buckets regularly.

It is essential to collect every open loop in your collection system. If a task is on your mind, no matter how trivial, it will distract you unless you write it down.  Stop collection once you know there is nothing left to collect. When will you know you have reached this point? As soon as there is no doubt left that you don’t have it all collected. If some part of you is even vaguely aware that you don’t have it all, keep searching for any open loops.

So now that you have collected all open loops, what to do with these collection buckets?

Step 2: Clarify

It’s impossible to complete all your open loops. So identify the items you have captured and ask yourself “What is it?” and “Do I need to take action on this?”. If the answer is “no”, you can do one of three things to process the item: put in in the trash, file it as “Someday/Maybe” (for later) or file as “reference”. However, if the answer is “yes, in the future” then process the item with an automatic reminder. If the answer is “yes” and you can complete the action in less than 2 minutes, do it right now.

Step 3: Organize

Next up, put things where they belong. Create action reminder on the right lists. You can create lists for different categories, like errands to run, emails to send and calls to make. If closing a loop is going to require more than one task do two things:

  • Add the item to your projects list.
  • Break the item down into a group of smaller tasks, then put these tasks into your collection buckets.

A project list is a list of open loops that require more than one task to be completed. Project lists can help you keep track of your open loops.

Step 4: Reflect

Next, you need to determine what your next action is going to be. This is where reviewing your lists comes in. Are there any task pending that you have delegated? What are your main goals for this week and what still need to be done in order to reach your goals?

Check your next actions list, what is your top priorities? Check your calendar every morning and notice what scheduled tasks you need to complete.

Also, your weekly review is the moment which you use to review and reflect the past week and plan your next week. During your weekly review you should empty your collection buckets, review your system and clear and update your lists.

Step 5: Engage

Now that you have a clear view of what your next actions list looks like, you are ready to get to work. Don’t forget to carve out time for what comes up in your calendar and save some time for sudden emergencies.

And if anything distracts you, write it down, and add it to your collection buckets. In this way, you can process that to-do later and schedule it’s completion if needed.

How to manage your time with Stephen Covey’s Time Management Matrix

Do you let yourself be guided by urgency, or do you know your goals and are you driven by importance? Let’s take a look at how to manage your time according to Stephen Covey. Stephen Covey says that there is a sense of euphoria from when you get stuff done. But there are long term consequences when you are dependent upon urgency to feel good. Covey’s solution: divide your tasks into four categories, or quadrants. Each quadrant has a different importance and urgency factor. This Quadrant Four Model is also known as the Eisenhower Matrix.

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Quadrant One: Urgent and Important

This quadrant contains activities that are both urgent and important. This quadrant holds crises, pressing problems and projects with a deadline due soon.

Quadrant Two: Non-Urgent and Important

This category holds all important activities that are non-urgent, like planning, self-improvement, building relationships and other ways of scheduling and planning.

Quadrant Three: Urgent and Unimportant

This quadrant holds all urgent and unimportant activities, think about drop-in office visitors and meetings that have no clear agenda or end time. Try to minimize the amount of time you spent on Quadrant Three activities, this can be done by either eliminating (saying no) or delegating.

Quadrant four: Non-Urgent and Unimportant

This quadrant is the worst of all. This Quadrant holds all activities that are neither important, nor urgent. Mind dulling tasks, like administrative or repetitive, time-consuming tasks. Most tasks that do not help you improve your skills or intellect are Quadrant Four activities.

How to spent more time in Quadrant Two

An urgency addict spends most of his time on Quadrant One and Three activities, which results in a negative effect on Quadrant Two activities. There is no time left to build relationships or plan ahead, thus resulting in even more unexpected emergencies and deadline driven madness. Quadrant Two activities can help you plan, improve and prevent, which help long-term success and achievement. Covey suggests to eliminate (say no to) or delegate Quadrant Three activities and use that time on Quadrant Two activities. You want to spent as much time on Quadrant Two activities as possible.

How to manage your time with proven time management techniques

Now that you know about two proven time management techniques, Getting Things Done and Stephen Covey’s approach to time management, you have a first encounter with time management.

If you want to reduce stress, meet deadlines and get more stuff done, start trying different time management techniques and stick to what works for you.

Are you still wondering how to start applying time management techniques for your life? Download the free eBook “How To Be More Productive In Less Than 10 Minutes“.

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