After your people, your time is your greatest asset, so it’s worth knowing a thing or two about how to manage it. After all, time management is an important soft skill linked to organisation, prioritisation, goal-setting, communication, planning, delegation and stress management.
We’ve pulled together some of the most popular time management techniques to help you remain focused on what’s important.
The S.M.A.R.T. technique sets out a framework to map the future direction of your business. It’s been around since 1981 and makes sure every goal you set is tested against 5 criteria:
- Specific – the goal needs a clearly defined desired outcome: what do you want to achieve?
- Measurable – how will you measure progress?
- Achievable – can the goal be achieved with available resources?
- Relevant – the goal must fit a bigger picture: why do you want to achieve this goal?
- Time-bound – what is the clear deadline for achieving the goal?
If you can answer each question, you can consider your goal thoroughly thought out, and that the time you spend working on it is well spent.
The Eisenhower Matrix
The famous American general did more than just help win World War Two, he also lent his name to a time saving technique for prioritising tasks.
The matrix, often drawn as a table, splits tasks by urgency and importance before assigning a priority:
- Urgent + Important = Do first
- Not Urgent + Important = Schedule
- Urgent + Not Important = Delegate
- Not Urgent + Not Important = Eliminate
An urgent task might be replying to a client enquiry or time-sensitive work with strict deadlines. Important tasks, on the other hand, are simply aligned to long-term goals.
The Bullet Journal Method
All you need for this is a notepad and a pen. The company behind the technique says the journal exists ‘to help you track the past, organise the present, and plan the future’.
To make the most of a bullet journal, you need to think about how you assign time, and make small changes to your daily, weekly or monthly schedule. The result will be big changes to your productivity.
Every journal ensures you regularly review your task management, thus giving you the space to adapt and make changes to behaviour so you become as productive as you need to be.
The 80/20 Rule
Also known as the Pareto Principle, the theory is that approximately 80% of results come from 20% of your efforts.
It might seem random but the more you read into the ratio, the more you see it. For instance, in health and safety, 80% of accidents are caused by 20% of hazards. Also, 80% of crimes are committed by 20% of criminals.
To make the most of this force of nature, make sure you prioritise the 20% of your work that requires maximum attention.
The Pomodoro Technique
For those who struggle to get ‘in the zone’, this technique helps you set aside short bursts of ‘deep focus’ time broken up with regular breaks.
The technique is named after the tomato-shaped timer used by its creator - here’s how it works:
- Choose a task to be accomplished.
- Set a timer to 25 minutes (called 1 pomodoro)
- Work on the task until the timer rings, then put a check on your sheet of paper
- Take a short break (5 minutes)
- Take a longer break every 4 pomodoros.
Because of its cyclical nature, you get to work in short sprints that should keep your productivity constant as you avoid the dips that come with hammering away at a task for hours on end. Use the breaks to step back, and motivation should also remain high.
We hope some of these tips inspire you to try something a bit different. For more business tips, check out the Growth Series Library.