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Why time management techniques kill your productivity?

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Time management – how we spend our time – is a daily struggle for all of us. With so many techniques to save time, be more productive, and work smartly, it gets further confusing to choose the best one. And if not done correctly, it might affect our productivity adversely.

Effective time management can help in ways that go beyond professional lives. It impacts our personal lives and mental well-being as well.

A well-spent day brings immense peace and a smile to our faces.

There are so many methods; where to begin?

Different people require time management techniques depending upon the type of work and the level of commitment towards it. If you opt for one method which isn’t according to your style, it will kill your productivity instead of making you bright!

Here are three reasons to consider before investing in any productivity methods instead of simply going by their popularity:

  1. The method must be per your current role & challenges: Your techniques as a student might not be helpful in your job! You may require more than one technique to execute your day effectively. Your existing strategy might not work when you switch jobs or the type of work changes!
  2. Consider your planning & organizational skills before investing: Time management or productivity techniques are linked to your planning & organizational skills. But not all of us are good planners or have top-notch organizational skills. That’s why it becomes an essential factor to consider which technique you should opt for.
  3. Be clear with your commitment level: It makes no sense to opt for high-commitment productivity methods when you aren’t willing to invest that much time & effort. Be very clear before you begin with any of the time management techniques.

If you cannot show the needed dedication, you’ll feel the techniques to be more time-consuming & useless instead of practical and time-saver!

This article will tell you about the five best time management techniques. I have categorized them under the commitment level required in terms of time & effort, along with basic guidance on who should opt for which style. Choose wisely!

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Remember: You can opt for any of the methods that work for you; that’s always the best. But this categorization is only to help you get started according to your pace & comfort.

#1. Low Commitment Time Management Techniques

Here are two strategies to opt for if you get bored quickly, unwilling to commit too much, are a procrastinator, too busy to put any time behind planning, or cannot consistently sustain to keep up with the extra work.

1. Eat That Frog

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This technique became popular when Brian Tracy mentioned it in one of his books, “21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating.” The technique got its name as he was inspired by Mark Twain’s quote: “Eat a live frog the first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”

Choose this technique if you:

How does it work?

This method follows a simple rule: do the most important work first thing in the morning. All remaining tasks you can do during the day, even when you are mentally exhausted.

  1. Decide your frog – the most important task (mind it, not urgent). Just one.
  2. Eat the frog. Do it without thinking.
  3. Repeat every day. 

This technique works as it takes advantage of time by pushing us to do the most challenging/complex work at the best time when we have the right motivation and mental energy.

A few tips can be really helpful while working with your frog:

2. Pomodoro Technique

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Pomodoro is one of the most popular and straightforward time management methods developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. It is one technique that you can easily mix with any other technique.

Choose this technique if you:

It’s very easy to get started with. It allows a lot of breaks to not feel exhausted.

How does it work?

It requires you to use a timer to break your work into intervals; each interval is called a Pomodoro (tomato in Italian). 

  1. Decide the tasks you want to work on. Start with one task.
  2. Set a 25-minutes timer to do focused work.
  3. When timer buzzes, check-off 1 pomodoro.
  4. Take a 5-minutes break. Sip some coffee, walk around, or do anything unrelated to work.
  5. Repeat the same thing four times, i.e., four pomodoros.
  6. Take a more extended break this time, approx. 20-30 minutes.
  7. Repeat the whole thing.

A few tips can come real handy:

#2. Medium Commitment Time Management Techniques

Here are the two most popular strategies to opt for if you are a to-do list person, like working focused, setting goals, or prefer visualization.

3. Eisenhower Matrix

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Eisenhower Matrix or Urgent-Important Matrix is a robust decision-making framework developed by 34th American president Dwight D. Eisenhower that helps you manage time.

Stephen Covey projected Eisenhower’s insights in his best-selling book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People as a simple tool to prioritize tasks. It is now known as the Eisenhower Matrix (also known as The Time Management Matrix, The Eisenhower Box, The Eisenhower Method, and The Urgent-Important Matrix). It helps you prioritize tasks and sort your to-do list by adequately addressing the required tasks and eliminating the non-required clutter.

Choose this technique if you:

How does it work?

There are four quadrants, namely:

  1. Do Now – urgent and important tasks
  2. Schedule – less urgent but important tasks
  3. Delegate – urgent but less important tasks
  4. Delete – neither urgent nor important tasks

This matrix helps you compare your choices on the scale of “urgency” and “importance,” thereby allowing you to make a solid plan to approach your never-ending tasks list!

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Download our popular Eisenhower Matrix template (6k+ downloads) made in MS Excel or Google Sheets. It is one of the best ways to make decisions and inherits all the best practices. It’s really worth trying!

Here are a few tips:

4. Time Blocking:

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The time-blocking technique requires you to dedicate a block of time to a specific task or batch of similar tasks. It involves task batching and day theming variations as well. Read more about these techniques here.

It is a great technique to practice focus for people who get a lot of interruptions in a day. Use a calendar or other software that allows visual planning for best results.

Choose this technique if you:

How does it work?

  1. Planning – Prepare your work list. Define priorities. Identify if they require deep focus.
  2. Create batches – Group similar types of tasks together
  3. Assign time blocks- depending on your work – can be 10 minutes or 60 minutes. Ensure to assign deep work tasks at the time when you are most productive.
  4. Sync with your calendar – block these chunks, if your work role permits, so that others know when not to disturb you.

Many known personalities, including Jack Dorsey, Elon Musk, and Cal Newport, author of Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, favored this technique. It is the best way to have deep work hours and understand how you spend your time.

Here are a few tips:

Download our popular Trello template based on “Day Theming” variation of time blocking technique. It’s really worth trying! Plus, Trello is free!

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#3. High Commitment Time Management Techniques

Here are two strategies to opt for if you are good at planning, can visualize distant goals too, have super clear details about your work, or have perseverance.

5. Getting Things Done

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Getting Things Done is a popular time management technique developed by productivity consultant David Allen. It is based on the concept of stress-free working. You dump all your professional and personal tasks into a to-do list and free yourself from remembering them.

Choose this technique if you:

How does it work?

GTD is a 5-step process:

  1. Capture – Every task going on in your head. Work, appointments, personal work, anything.
  2. Clarify – Decide if the item is actionable or not. Is it a project, a big task, a small task, or not relevant? If you cannot decide anything about an item: trash it or archive it. If you can finish a task in 2 minutes, get it done immediately. DO NOT add such tasks in the GTD system at all.
  3. Organize – Park all tasks in relevant categories/buckets to add structure. Add dates, file references, note all details, and involve everyone associated with the task.
  4. Review – Decide what’s next. How do you plan to accomplish an item?
  5. Engage – Do it.

Here are a few tips here:

Remember: With GTD, the whole point is to dump out everything going on in your head so that you can finish them – either by doing or not doing. So, don’t get overwhelmed seeing the count.

Interesting part: Following GTD for a long time now (I really dump all my thoughts even when they are not related to work but some personal desires or future wishes), I realized so many things at the personal level. I mean, God, my brain thinks a lot, and half of it is nonsense built due to social pressure of doing things, the competition that if my friend does something, I need to do it too, and desperation of doing this and that and everything, etc.

Long story short, it did play a part in making me self-aware!

6. Pickle Jar Theory

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How can pickles relate to time management techniques, right? It’s a figurative expression. 

Jeremy Wright established this theory that time is a finite space with limits. So basically, the jar of pickles is an analogy where the jar represents our typical day, and inside the jar, we have

Choose this technique if you:

The best part of this technique is that it is the most practical way of time management. It allows us to blend our day with all sorts of work which is how every day is. Mix a finite amount of sand, pebbles, and rocks in your jar!

How does it work?

Imagine a large empty pickle jar.

T­here’s a lot of stuff in your jar. The order and volume of each item are essential to understand here. If you were to put the sand in first, then your pebbles and large rocks wouldn’t fit. Or if you tried just to put in 10 large rocks, they’d break the jar. Such is the case with planning your day.

Summary

I explained to you six time management techniques that you can choose based on your commitments and work style.

Being able to master your time will not only make you productive or create room for more work, but it will also make you realize how you can do a bit of everything in your life – by finding the right balance.

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