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Why time management so often fails

Take control of your life

You are going to die – and this is a crucial fact for time management that is very often neglected.

Time management tools should allow you to take control of your life, and then structure your work around it – not the other way around.

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Why time management so often fails

Why time management so often fails

https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20180904-why-time-management-so-often-fails

bbc.com

7

Key Ideas

Time-management tools

They offer the promise that you would gain certain control over your life, but there's no guarantee it will work.
When it fails to work, most people try another app or another technique. The available evidence suggests these tools and strategies work for some people in some settings, but not for others.

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.

One size does not fit all

These time-management tools assume a lot of things about the environment where they are used and the individual personalities of people who use them.

  • Some people have a better awareness of how much time they will spend on a particular task. 
  • Others are very prone to be optimistic when ‘budgeting' their time.
  • Some prefer to do one thing at a time, while others feel comfortable multi-tasking.

Created by software developers

Many of these time-management tools are made by a very particular group of people: software developers. “We always want to solve a problem we have ourselves." Unsurprisingly, tech workers are among these tools’ biggest enthusiasts.

Many of the most popular apps and techniques evolved this way, as a particular solution for a specific problem someone else had – someone else who most likely does not work or think like you.

Take control of your life

You are going to die – and this is a crucial fact for time management that is very often neglected.

Time management tools should allow you to take control of your life, and then structure your work around it – not the other way around.

No holy grail

Bear in mind that productivity is not an endless race, just a tool with limits. 

Experiment often, as finding an approach that fits your personality and habits can be hard.

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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.

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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There isn’t enough time

Complaining that you don’t have enough time is not getting to the root problem. It may be that you’re lousy at time management. Admit to yourself that there is enough time -- you just don’t know how t...

A one size fits all solution

Instead of relying on a tool with all the bells and whistles, find out where you’re struggling and what’s essential for you. 

For example, if scheduling is taking you away from product development, then you could use a scheduling tool that uses machine learning to automate most of your scheduling needs. If you’re wasting too much time on email, then consider using a tool to help tame your inbox.

Less anxiety

Time management is only useful when you’re aware of your limitations and don't let the system dictate your entire life. 

In other words, when you don’t tread lightly (especially at first), time management can add more stress to your life.

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Time Management And Personality

In order for any time-management method to be successful, you have to take into account people’s individual behaviors at work. There is no one-size-fits-all method for time management.

The Action Hero

Give them a seemingly impossible list of tasks and they will have them done and dusted faster than a speeding bullet. But in their haste, they can miss things and prioritize nonurgent tasks.

Strategy: For this type, ranking tasks according to urgency is a good call. 

The Diva

Very sociable and upbeat but with a tendency to procrastinate, they often boast about their nonexistent achievements giving the impression they are more productive than they really are.

Strategy: breaking tasks into tiny steps, scheduling their resolution and setting reminders works well. Email management according to urgency is also crucial considering how much time it usually consumes. 

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