Αs you may have figured out from our recent research and blogging topics, for us Time and Project Management are crucial for our day to day life in the workplace. We have also stated the importance of finding and establishing ways to keep your team of employees happy and productive as well.
So, now we gathered for you famous and well tested time and project management best practices, in the hope that you and your team will benefit from including those methods into your professional daily life.
All those techniques can be incorporated into the philosophy of an organization and can become your guidance system in how you implement daily work routines and even how meetings are scheduled. At the end of the article, you may find a combination of those different methods of time management for a typical working day, to share it with your team.
The most effective time management methods for employees and managers at work.
1. Pomodoro technique:
Pomodoro time management technique was created by Francesco Cirillo and seems to have a positive effect on businesses around the globe. Its name derives from a kitchen timer in the shape of a tomato used by the creator of the method. This technique states that you should divide your time into sessions of 25 minutes of duration, called pomodoros. After every pomodoro, you take small breaks of 3 to 5 minutes. When you finish 4 pomodoros you take a longer break of 15 or even better 30 minutes. The idea behind it is that you focus better for short amounts of time, rather for longer ones. The small breaks aim to boost your mind and avoid getting stuck over the same project, while the long break, is to ensure that you recharge completely and are able to resume refreshed..
How to schedule your working day with the pomodoro technique:
Work completely focused for 25 minutes
After you finish each pomodoro, write a “tick” on a piece of paper.
Take 3 - 5 minutes break
When you complete a set of four pomodoros take a long break of 15 to 30 minutes
Review your performance. Learn how much time each task consumes and organize better.
The “tick” step should not be overlooked as it gives you a sense of accomplishment and helps you focus on what you have completed, rather than all the things you still have to do. To help you, even more, there are online apps you can use as timers for your pomodoros.
2. The Importance Matrix
This matrix of important tasks one of the best time management tools to categorize and prioritize projects.
On a piece of paper, an excel sheet or whatever works for you, draw a cross. It is better if it is a rather big one. The horizontal line states the urgency and the vertical states the importance of a project. As in every matrix, you have four quadrants.
Let’s see the tasks in every quadrant:
- Q1: Top Left Box of the urgent and important. This category includes all the projects that are part of your strategy and are to be implemented within a certain deadline. Urgent calls to Key account clients etc. If it is not yet clear those are to-do-right-away projects.
- Q2: Top Right Box Important but not as urgent. Here you find planned tasks. It is a box of great importance, since here are all the long-term decisions you will have to make and your guide to managing your time better in the future.
- Q3: Bottom Left Box of not important but urgent tasks. Interruptions, daily work bombs etc. Usually, have to be dealt with first, before you focus again on your Q1 box.
- Q4: Bottom Right Box of not important, not urgent issues. Well, those projects are probably boring or dull duties for you. Delegate or cancel them altogether!
The best way this method will help you is that, after the categorization of your tasks, it is easier to plan your day or even week ahead. There is another plus in this method. Since you get to categorize your own projects, you get to realize what is important for you, or not, and relieve yourself from stressing out for unimportant details!
3. Getting things Done technique (GTD)
You might have been using this method already and not even realizing it. Let’s see how you can improve your time management with the 5 steps of this simple system. It is actually, an analysis of your usual to-do list. This technique lies in our reaction to big and seemingly difficult projects, in comparison to small and easier tasks. Let’s break it down:
- Collect everything that you have to do.
- Clarify them. Are they doable? What is every task's deadline and effort required?
- Organise them. Put them in place in a way that matches your time and productivity.
- Review the list frequently. Make sure not to miss anything, while noticing how many tasks are have been already completed!
- Just start doing things, according to your list, with confidence!
You cannot imagine how much easier everything gets and, at that point, you realize that you do not have to worry about future tasks, as they will come up one by one at a time. Every project is a step by step process and usually following the steps at the right time is the easiest, most educative and fun way to do it!
4. 168 hours
That is the number of hours there are in a week. This method states that you should plan on a weekly basis and better yet, include your personal chores in your planning. Simple and yet quite a genius way of planning, to be honest. That way, you can manage time on a weekly basis and get the overview of how loaded it is. You will know which days you might be able to leave early and organize a meeting with friends, or a doctor’s appointment.
The idea of dividing time to hours is also amazing, because you see the capacity of your time and thus, manage your time effectively and wisely. Too often we get frustrated and feel we are not doing enough but when you finally see your time available, you realize how impossible it was for you to expect of yourself to carry out everything, in a few days! You will plan both your personal and professional life better and hopefully, offer yourself the ability to indulge in some relaxing free time. Once you notice how little time you actually get to be lazy, a whole lot of guilt will go away.
All those techniques work. But, never forget to always choose a way that matches your position and personality. Different time management methods are fit for employees, team leaders or small business owners. Better yet, combine those tools, in order to schedule your day in a “time-management” optimized way!
Here is a typical working day system, based on the above methods.
- In the morning go through your Matrix of tasks. Prioritize all your projects for the day accordingly. Don’t forget to categorize the unexpected tasks that come up during the day too!
- After you have all the projects in order of urgency, use the GTD list. Break every project into smaller tasks and steps so they are more manageable.
- Now you know exactly what you have to do and in what order so, start your pomodoros! Don’t forget to take breaks; they are the secret of success.
- Before you leave the office, overview your 168 hours chart. Check what has been done and what is left and make adjustments or re-organize your projects.
With the Time Tracking feature of Elorus it can really become a piece of cake to implement those methods in your daily life.
It might take some time to adjust, but once you start working with these methods you will never go back to the old way of working.