Regardless of how seasoned are you in project management, effective time management seems to be the one thing you always try to achieve but is remains right out your grasps. Not so far to make you think it’s unreachable, just enough to make you think that yes, you might actually be going home at 6pm today finally… and then break your heart with an unexpected task popping up or an email you must answer or that thing you forgot to do in the morning. In that sense, effective time management is like an unrequited love interest, or a cat, the more you chase after it, the further away it moves from you.
If you find yourself constantly stressed out about delivery dates, missed deadlines, overtime or lack of free time or sleep, then this article might be right for you. The aim of this article is not to give an exhaustive review of each and every tool there is out there for time management. Rather than that, we will present three different approaches to time management and three tool examples that can help you, depending on the approach you wish to take.
Just get it done! Using the ol’ priority list
This one is simple and effective. Take 15 minutes to half an hour every morning to list everything you want to accomplish for the day. Once you have written down your list, go through each of the elements in it and assign a priority (1 for most important to 3 for least important should be enough). If too many tasks have a high priority, review those again and demote the least important of those. Go through your list once again trying to understand if there are dependencies (if something else needs to happen for you to achieve your task) and make sure that you delegate everything that doesn’t necessarily need to be done by you. Having a priority list will beat your feeling of being overwhelmed and help you stay focused and on tracks. And there is no grater feeling that scratching a completed task out of that list, trust me.
The Pomodoro technique – Timing your focus
The Pomodoro technique is a time management technique which was created by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980’s. The method consists basically in setting a (pomodoro kitchen) timer for 25 minutes and commit to work fully focused and with no distractions during that time. Then you take a short 5 minutes break, and do it all over again. You can take a longer 15-20 minutes break after 4 sessions in a row. By timing your breaks you don’t run the risk of cutting a task in the middle to “quickly check my emails”, for example. It helps a lot choosing in advance which task are you going to focus on and also how you will use your breaks! This is a great way to stay productive while avoiding distractions at the same time.
Rescue time – Nip procrastination in the bud…
You can download this tool and have it running in the background on your Windows or Mac and what it will do is to record how long you spend in each application or activity as you work. It will help you manage your time wisely by sending you weekly reports detailing how you spent your time. You might be shocked to discover that you spent half the time you allocated to prepare that super important report watching funny cats’ videos online! (Hey, it happens…).
There are tons of tool that will help you hone your time management skills, make sure you chose the one that resonates with you and your way of working. Remember that time management is the skill that will help you keep all your workload under control, while keeping stress to a minimum. Taking the right steps to work focused and effectively will help you stay on top on your work and personal priorities while ensuring you are achieving your goals.
Happy productivity boosting! 😉
Photo credit: Vadim Sherbakov
Photo credit: To-do List by John Schultz
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