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The best time management strategies for scheduling your day, week, or life

https://blog.rescuetime.com/best-time-management-strategies/

blog.rescuetime.com

The best time management strategies for scheduling your day, week, or life
What's the best time management strategy out there? Unfortunately, anyone who tells you they have the answer to that question is lying. The truth is there's no single time management system that works for every single person. They all have their strengths and weaknesses and their results will vary depending on your circumstances, goals, and personality.

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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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The Pomodoro Method

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.

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The 2-minute rule

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.

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The Next Hour

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.

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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.

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Time blocking

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.

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Eating the frog

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.

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Natural energy cycles

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.

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Big rocks first

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

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By the week

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

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Theme days

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

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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.

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By the quarter

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

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The 12 week year

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.

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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.

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By the lifetime

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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Uncritical Productivity

Pursuing productivity for its own sake is counter-productive. 

Most people feel able to complete more tasks when they start using time-management tools, but they don’t bear in mind that they can’t keep increasing their productivity forever, and they commit to more and more. In a few weeks, they are more productive but still frustrated. 

Balancing act

Back when more people worked in factories, laborers did not have to deal with time management. At the assembly line, time was managed for you.

Freedom comes with responsibility: you have to think a lot more about how you manage your time.

Being purposeful with your day

Being purposeful with your day

Time management is about taking control of the time you do have available and using it optimally for productivity while creating balance.

How to plan your day

Much advice about time management is about creating a to-do list, reminding you what you want to do. However, it's more important to use a schedule, which tells you when you're going to do it.

  • Create "bookends" for each day. Consider your morning and evening routines, then "block" in time for your most important tasks. For example, a 2-hour writing-block every morning after breakfast.
  • Set aside time for your most important projects. The object is to be purposeful about what and when you're going to do something.
  • Schedule in breaks. A schedule has to be realistic. That means including time for breaks, food, exercise, social time, and other "non-school" tasks that keep you happy.

Be aware of how you’re spending your time

To build a better time management system, you need to know what you currently spend your time on. You need to know where you're losing time to the wrong things.

To track your time, spend a few days writing a "time log" to track how you spend your day.

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  • Transfer money to your savings account every time you receive a paycheck
  • Choose all your outfits for your week on Sunday and hang them in the closet in order
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Single Task

Switching between tasks can have damaging costs to our work and productivity.

Develop the habit of single-tasking by forcing your brain to concentrate on one task and one task only. Put your phone away, close all the browser windows and apps that you don’t need. Immerse yourself in this task. Only move to the next one when you’re done.

Brian Tracy

Brian Tracy

Time management is not a peripheral activity or skill. It is the core skill upon which everything else in life depends.”