Time Management is investing your time to maximize productivity. IBM’s consider it the 2nd most crucial skill required in the workforce. Yet, research by Predictive Index found that it was the 3rd most underdeveloped skill.
You might have tried a few popular techniques to manage time but not found them fruitful. Why? Often, we try techniques without first developing the skill it requires. Techniques are mindless methods, while skills need insight into your situation.
Awareness, Prioritizing, and Structuring time are three essential skills that sustain time management techniques.
Skill 1: Awareness
You need to see the current landscape before you create a plan. If you don’t know how much time you spend on what, you won’t know where to grow. Doing a time audit gives an awareness of how you can manage your time better.
- Time Audit: A detailed examination of where you are currently spending your time. Studies show that most people waste about 30% of their time on low-value activities. A time audit helps uncover time leaks.
- Action step: Create a time audit chart, virtual or on paper. With categories that represent your work day activities. For seven days, record the time you started and finished it tasks.
- Pro Tip: Split the activities into ‘time wasters,’ ‘low value,’ ‘medium value,’ and ‘high value.’ You can use apps like Toggl to track your time.
Skill 2: Prioritizing
Most people over-estimate how much they can do in a day. Time is a limited resource, so you can’t do everything. The skill or prioritizing is knowing how much impact different task will have. You can work out your priorities using Pareto’s principle.
- Pareto’s Principle: Named after an influential Italian economist, this principle states that 20% of your work produces 80% of your results. Knowing the high impact 20% taks will help you to prioritize them.
- Action step: Every morning, identify the 20% of task which will have the most impact on your effectiveness. Don’t touch the 80% till you’ve nailed the 20%.
- Pro Tip: Your mind is fresher in the morning, so schedule these 20% tasks as the first thing.
Skill 3: Structuring time
Like your skeleton gives your body strength, structuring your time gives your day productivity. Well-structured time clarifies where time is going and how to priorities high-value tasks. The Pomodoro technique helps you create rhythms in your day.
- Pomodoro Technique: This technique uses 25-minute intervals of work followed by 5-minute breaks to enhance productivity. Developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s, he named it after the tomato Pomodoro in Italian) shaped kitchen timer he used as a university student.
- Action step: Immerse yourself work it for 25 minutes, uninterrupted. Take a 5-minute break (away from your desk). Do another 25 minutes of focused work. After four Pomodoro cycles, take a longer break of 15-30 minutes.
- Pro Tip: Protect your time from interruptions when working for 25 minutes to get the most outcome through a focused approach.
Time is our most limited resource so managing it well improves our lives. By matching these three skills with three techniques, you’ll enrich your productivity and quality of life.
- Time Management Is About More Than Life Hacks (hbr.org)
- The enterprise guide to closing the skills gap_Strategies for building and maintaining a skilled workforce maintaining a skilled workfTheTheThe (ibm.com)
- New Survey Uncovers 5 Skills Managers Lack, According to Their Employees | Inc.com
- New Study Shows You’re Wasting 21.8 hours a Week | Inc.com
- Richard Koch (2017), ‘The 80/20 Principle: The Secret of Achieving More with Less’, Nicholas Brealey Publishing Limited
- Francesco Cirillo (2018), ‘The Pomodoro Technique: The Acclaimed Time-Management System That Has Transformed How We Work,’ Currency