By the hour

This works well for the chronic procrastinator: those who say they will do it later and then wonder why it never gets done.

Instead of getting overwhelmed, tackle your to-do list in small manageable chunks. Scheduling your time by the hour takes little effort to implement but provides real results.

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Time Management

Rather than trying to work flat-out, break down your day into a series of work-sprints with a short rest period after each session.

Set a timer for 25 min and focus exclusively on your work for that time, take a 5 min break, and repeat.

Some people find that taking a 5 min break destroys their flow. But it does help to break long complex tasks into a series on manageable sprints.

The 2-minute rule is a strategy for quickly assessing and taking action on small tasks so they don’t take up too much mental energy.

Ask yourself if a task is going to take you 2 minutes or less. If so, just do it.

This method involves literally planning out each of your next hours, rather than your whole day.

Start the day by writing a list of what you intend to do over the next hour. Top up the list throughout the day so it always contains approximately one hour’s work.

By the day

This works well for the over-promiser: those who overestimate how much they can do in a day.

To prevent starting the day unplanned, plan your day the night before.

Assign every hour of your day to a specific task.

Take your day’s to-do list and estimate how long each task will take. Plan your day out by assigning each task to your calendar. Include all related tasks such as commuting, breaks and admin tasks.

Eating the frog means taking the biggest job you need to do and tackling it at the very start of the day, getting it over and done with.

Check out your to-do list. Pick the task you’ve been putting off.

Identify when your peaks/troughs are and plan your day around your energy levels. Alternatively, you can also work with your chronotype.

  • Bears are active in the day, but they’ll likely hit the snooze button before they get up. They’re best tackling intensive tasks just before noon.
  • Lions are early risers and are most productive in the morning.
  • Wolves would prefer to sleep through the morning. They peak late morning and late evening.
  • Dolphins are light sleepers. They should save intensive tasks for later in the day and are most productive in sprints.

The method involves identifying your big rocks (i.e. your priorities) then planning your day around them.

This is for the constantly over-committed - those who struggle to fit everything into a single day cycle. 

Theme each individual day of your week to a specific type of task.

For example:

  • Mon: Research
  • Tues: Client work
  • Wed: Marketing
  • Thurs: Client work
  • Fri: Bookkeeping
By the month

When you have a plan for the month, it gives you a sense of what you can realistically get done.

Experiment with monthly planning and see whether or not it fits in with your productivity cycles.

This is good for the big dreamer because it helps with starting making progress on long-term goals.

Planning for a year leads to a lax attitude throughout the start of the year, leading to a burst of frantic activity as the end of the year approaches. Forget about your annual plan and accomplish the same goals in just 12 weeks.

  • When you have just 12 weeks to reach your goals, every day counts.
  • It encourages you to think in terms of what you can accomplish in less time.
  • Promotes daily action to accomplish long-term goals.
By the year

This works for seasonal workers.

Make a list of your annual commitments including work events and personal events. Plan your tasks around these events.

Rather than planning your time, plan your goals. Ignore specific timelines and instead focus on progressing toward your key goals.

For example, if you want to be President, you might choose to volunteer for local political activities, as opposed to taking a high-paying job in the private sector.

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