The Smartest Time Management Techniques

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Let’s answer the question: What do you think about when you think of things of value?

Most of us will keep in mind such words like possessions, health or loved ones. But you must admit that all of it don’t matter if we don’t have time. The time is the most valuable and limited thing we have. So investing properly in time is a key reason for successful, healthy and happy life in general.

As our work & our product (Everhour) is to simplify and to adjust time management for big and small teams, we searched and studied the best personal time management techniques on Quora. Because all team’s productivity starts from each member’s productivity individually.

What is the best way to schedule my day?

This is in fact one of the most asked questions. The answer below will definitely set the mood of this article, of your day and (ideally) your life in general.

We found the answer of Hien Lam — Coach, Speaker and Co-Founder of Chillpill — the most compelling.

First of all, he suggests to start the day with most important tasks (MIT). So just keep in mind what is your main goal and answer two general questions:

  • What do I need to finish today?
  • And why is it really important to finish?

Then pick the most important task and start doing it.

“Picking your most important task needs to be thought of as part of your job now — you know what you should be working on, and you know that if you’re not working on it, you’re procrastinating.”

Hien recommends to repeat this questions throughout the day and delete some unimportant tasks with any doubts. This tactics will bring positive impact for your effectiveness.

But, you know, there is also a fine line between important tasks and urgent. We all have natural tendency to focus on urgent activities, which could be in fact unimportant. So we should distinctly define what is urgent and and what is really essential for our success in this moment.

To help to specify that Hien suggests to use Eisenhower Matrix.

Urgent tasks require prompt activities. Usually with the expression of “Now!” 
This kind of tasks turns on reactive mode, which are accompanied by narrowly-focused mindset, defensive and often negative behavior.

Important tasks are connected with the main goal in a long-term mission. They also could be urgent, but typically they are not. Focusing on important things opens rational mode, which helps us to open mindset and stay calm.

Save this Matrix for the future and check your tasks every time to define what you really should do immediately.

How to manage my to-do list?

Also we found a very interesting time management technique, mentioned by Max Lukominskyi — CMO at Slice Planner. He suggests us to Manage the Zoo. Yes, you heard right :)

img source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/97698314@N05/

The technics consists of the following items:

  1. At first, you must to eat “a frog”. Look through your task list and highlight in green the tasks which you wanted to avoid if you had a chance. Now they are your frogs — your most unpleasant and boring tasks. And the most appropriate time to finish them is the morning. “This simple technique will help you get done with the most unpleasant commitments in the morning and enjoy the rest of a day doing the things you love.”
  2. Split Up “An Elephant”. Our brains like to postpone or even abandon huge and difficult tasks. And it is also very difficult to stay focused when you don’t see the finish line. Accordingly, it decreases motivation, because you cannot handle an elephant at once. But there is an exit! Just cut huge task into easy manageable parts and set intermediate goals. Encouraging yourself for small achievements will make you stay motivated during the whole task.
  3. Collect Your “Monkeys”. Is your to-do list looking like jungle full of monkeys? Like a chaotic set of tasks in free order, or didn’t arranged at all? The order of tasks really matters. Well-organized blueprint of the upcoming day — is a pledge of your success. Consolidate the similar tasks, group by priorities and deadlines and you will not lose your concentration by trying to find the next task.
  4. Avoid The “Cats and Pandas”. No one will argue that these animals are cute and funny. At the same way they easily distract you from what really matters. Every day we are faced with lots of distracting factors, which want to steal our focus from our main goals. So don’t let these factors ruin your productivity.

Max also gives advices to avoid social media, keep away from chatty colleagues, turn off all notifications and (of course if it is possible) go offline.

Do what matters first and let yourself relax later.”

How to improve my productivity?

So now we know how to work with to-do lists and prioritise tasks through the day. That’s undoubtedly great, but in fact that still doesn’t guarantee that your work will be done in time. A lack of focus, fear of big tasks, uncertainty — lead to postponing the work for later and later.

Nikolay Nikolaev, Founder Casual.pm have cool advice to prevent this situation. He suggests to use Pomodoro Technique.

That means that you should remove all distractions (mute your phone and all notifications) and set up a timer for 25 minutes to execute on a particular task. It is a perfectly balanced interval to stay focused on your task before burning out. The coolest thing that the urge of doing will activate your brain, so you don’t need to wait for inspiration. 
There are lots of Pomodoro apps for all OS and Desktops.

Screenshot source: https://itunes.apple.com/
“Regular practice of Pomodoro technique helps to overcome writer’s block, develop “creativity on demand”, fight procrastination.”

We found all of these advices and techniques smart and working. Just try to implement them one by one into your life, repeat them regularly and you will be soon pleasantly surprised by the results.

And even if someone finds below ideas not new, think for a second, have you ever tried those tactics? Are you constant on them? Are they of any help? Share your personal experiences in the comments section. It’s very interesting to know. Who knows, may be we will add them to our next article?

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