You’ve read dozens of time management books. You’ve implemented at least a half of dozen time management systems. You’ve tried every time management hack under the sun. Yet you still feel like time manages you instead of the other way around.
What’s a person to do? Try these 5 time management tips. They actually work!
5 Time Management Tips That Actually Work
Tip #1: Stop Managing Time. One of the first steps to managing time is to stop managing time. Instead, manage your priorities. Counterintuitive? Yes. But it works! The basic idea is to quit trying to fit everything into your schedule and instead focus on your top priorities in life and work. Start doing this and lots of things simply fall into place.
Tip #2: Make a List. Check it Twice. If you aren’t making a list, you’re probably wasting a lot of time putting out fires, multitasking, and trying to remember what needs to get done. I’ve recommended David Allen’s great book Getting Things Done elsewhere, but I’ll recommend it again here. His entire system focuses on how to create and use lists effectively as well as how to check them often.
Tip #3: Pareto Principle. This tip takes the idea above and puts it on steroids. The Pareto Principle, also known as the 80-20 Rule, states that 80 percent of your results come from 20 percent of your efforts. So instead of just making a list of things to do, why not make a 20/80 percent list? The 20 percent column should contain only those action items that produce massive results (i.e. the 20 percent of your efforts that produce 80 percent of your results). The 80 percent column should consist of all your other action items that really don’t produce significant results.
Tip #4: Planned Neglect. Just like the Pareto Principle puts making a list on steroids, planned neglect puts the Pareto Principle on steroids. Planned neglect means you determine the one thing on your 20 percent list that’s most important on any particular day and you neglect everything else until you’ve worked on this one thing. Of all the time management tips listed, implementing this one idea will likely give you the biggest bang for your buck.
Tip #5: Blocks of Time. Finally, one of the best time management tips I ever learned is to work in blocks of time. Carve out 60-90 minutes to work on one project. No phone calls. No texting. No checking social media. No distractions of any kind. Just focused, uninterrupted work on one thing. BOOM.
Question: Which of these time management tips is most helpful to you and why?