16 Proven Time Management Techniques To Be Productive

People who know how to manage their own time productively live richer and fuller lives, doing their work with a minimum of time. By managing our time, we have more space in life: it becomes more realistic to be able to do the things we really enjoy. Considering the hectic pace in which modern man lives, the issue of time management becomes more and more urgent, if not vital. The skill of time management increases personal efficiency many times over.

1. Rule 1-3-5

Your working time during the day is limited, and the rule 1-3-5 allows you to spend it most wisely. Its essence is the following: in one day you can do only one large task, three medium and five small. In total – nine cases, no more and no less. The rule will help you gradually clear away the clutter, meeting the deadline and not getting overworked.

2. The Rule of Three

For those who aren’t good with numbers or can’t do nine things in a day, Chris Bailey, author of My Productive Year, has come up with the rule of three. It says that doing the three most important things each day is enough to be productive.

Instead of spreading your energy and attention over a couple dozen items on a checklist, just pick the three most important tasks for the day and focus on them. The next day, pick three more, and so on. That way you will stay focused. You can apply the same rule to setting weekly, monthly, or yearly goals.

3. The 10-Minute Method

Do you have some task that you don’t want to get started on? Say to yourself, “I’ll just do it for 10 minutes, and then I’m going to rest. Chances are, during this time you will be sucked into the work and will not be able to stop.

4. Pomodoro

Francesco Cirillo invented this system to make it easier to prepare for exams. It helps people who are easily distracted to concentrate. It’s also a good way to monitor how much time you have for a particular paper.

Here’s how Pomodoro works: you take a timer and set it for 25 minutes. You focus on your work during this period. When the 25 minutes are up, you rest for five minutes and then do it all over again. After four cycles, you take a big break for half an hour.

5. The 90/30 Method

The 90/30 method is used by writer and blogger Tony Schwartz, cofounder of Buffer Leo Vidrich, literary critic Benjamin Che Kai Wai and entrepreneur Thomas Oppong.

Its essence is as follows: you work hard for 90 minutes, then rest for half an hour and then repeat the cycle. The first 90 minutes are devoted to the most important task you have to do during the day, and the next 90 minutes are devoted to less important tasks.
According to research by Yale Peretz Lafee, a researcher at the Enchanted World of Sleep, 90 minutes is the optimal amount of time in which a person can effectively focus on a single task. And half an hour is enough time for complete rest.

6. Method 52/17

This is a variation of the previous method. It doesn’t differ in any way except in numbers: you work for 52 minutes, and then you rest for 17 minutes. According to some experiments, these time intervals allow you to stay productive and avoid overwork. So use the 52/17 method if you feel you don’t have the energy to work for 90 minutes straight.

7. Eating Frogs

The method came up with “Eat That Frog: Brian Tracy Explains The Truth About Frogs” by a motivational speaker and self-development author Brian Tracy. “Frogs” he calls unpleasant and difficult tasks that you must do despite your reluctance. From the beginning of the day, do one such thing – “eat a frog.” And then it will be easier for you: you will remove this stone from your soul and provide yourself with a good mood for the whole day.

8. Time blocks

Task lists have one unpleasant feature: they give absolutely no idea how much time a particular thing requires. “Buy bread” and “Finish a report” are on the same line, but the tasks are incomparable in complexity and importance.

A calendar is much better than a to-do list: it allows you to control time visually. You see a big block and realize that the task is not easy. So try the “time blocks” technique: put them on the calendar and allocate time to each one according to the complexity of the task. And while you’re doing this or that task, don’t get distracted by the others.

9. GTD

GTD (Getting Things Done) is a system of productivity invented by the business trainer David Allen. Its basic principles are as follows:

  • Write down all your to-do’s and ideas in one place called the Inbox.
  • Periodically sort the contents of the Inbox by assigning priorities and deadlines to cases. Arrange notes in folders according to their contents – “Work”, “Home”, “Shopping” and so on.
  • Do revisions – discard unnecessary notes, cross out completed tasks, move materials that are no longer relevant to you to the archives.

When you have everything planned out, get to work. Tasks that can be done in a few minutes should be done right away. Others can be delegated or put on a calendar.

10. ZTD

Leo Babauta, author of the productivity blog Zenhabits, believes that David Allen’s GTD system is very complicated and requires too much effort. He suggests his own Zen-style system, Zen to Done. To follow it, you need to develop 10 simple habits.

  • Collect all information in Inbox.
  • Process all the notes, do not put them in a long box.
  • Plan the main goals for each day and the biggest tasks for the week.
  • Focus on just one thing each time, without spreading your attention too thin.
  • Create simple, short to-do lists.
  • Organize your notes into categories based on their content, as in the original GTD.
  • Review your notes regularly and get rid of unnecessary items.
  • Simplify. Keep your list of tasks and goals short and to the point.
  • Maintain a certain routine at all times to set yourself up for work.
  • Do things that really interest you.

11. The Iceberg Method

Ramita Sethi, author of “I Will Teach You to Be Rich”, uses this method to save information for later. It works like this: you save all your emails, notes, articles, lists in one place – for example, in a note-taking service like Evernote or Notion or as documents. Then you organize these materials into tags, folders, and categories – however you like.

Every 4-6 weeks, review this information and think about whether you can put it into practice. If something is useless, throw it away or archive it. This allows you to create your own knowledge base.

12. Kanban

Japanese method of productivity, which helps to keep track of what you do, what you have already done and what you need to do in the future. Kanban visualizes your workflow.

You take a sticker board (or sign up for some to-do manager like Trello) and draw three columns on it: “To Do, Doing, Done. Then write your to-dos on post-its and put them in the appropriate column, depending on what you’re doing and what you’ve already done.

13. The Two-Minute Rule

This rule is an integral part of GTD, but it can be used even if you’re not a fan of Allen’s methodology. If a task takes no more than two minutes, do it immediately. That way you unload your brain, because you won’t have to remember to do it again.

14. Fresh or Fried (FoF)

This philosophy was created by a blogger Stephanie Lee. According to her, when you wake up in the morning, your brain is “fresh,” but as the day progresses, it gets “fried.” Which means you have to time your peak productivity and have time to do all the most important things for the day during that period.

Here’s how it works.

  • At the end of the day, when you’re already tired, take 15 minutes to create a to-do list for tomorrow.
  • Move the most important tasks to the beginning of the day, in Fresh. This is also where you put the things you don’t like to do, the “frogs. You should do them while you still have energy.
  • Less urgent, less complicated, and more enjoyable tasks go into Fried, which means in the second half of the day, depending on your schedule. They will be less of a burden on your brain.
  • The next morning, follow your list. Then make a new one in the evening.

Stephanie recommends FoF to people who find themselves absolutely exhausted every night, but didn’t get anything done, even though they worked all day.

15. Eisenhower Matrix

This matrix was created by American President Dwight Eisenhower. The matrix has four sections for tasks: “Not urgent and Not important,” “Urgent but Unimportant,” “Important and Not urgent,” and “Urgent and Important.” Divide your tasks into sections and you can find out what you spend the most time on and which tasks you should pay more attention to.

16. The 4D Method

The 4D was invented by Edward Ray, a motivational writer and consultant. The method is designed to help people who at the sight of his list of tasks come into horror and do not know how to approach all the accumulated items.

Ray says you only need to remember four D-words, and then you won’t get discouraged in the face of mountains of to-do’s. Here they are:

  • Do – If you’ve been assigned a task, it’s best to do it now and cross it off your list right away.
  • Delegate – when you can’t or don’t have time to do something, but you have a relatively free assistant, delegate the task to him.
  • Delete – Some tasks are not that important. Give them up by permanently removing them from the task list. If they try to impose unnecessary duties on you, learn to politely say “no”.
  • Delay – When a task is too voluminous or doesn’t require immediate execution, it can be delayed. But you must make sure to set a clear deadline, otherwise it will remain a dead weight.

Select a task, perform one action on it from the 4D, and then move on to the next task.

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