Αs you may have figured out from our recent research and blogging topics, Time and Project Management is crucial for our day-to-day life in the workplace. We have also stated the importance of finding and establishing ways to keep your employees happy and productive as well. So, here we have gathered for you well-tested and effective time management strategies, in the hope that you and your team will incorporate these techniques into your professional daily life and enjoy tangible benefits.
All these time and project management techniques can be incorporated into the philosophy of an organization and determine the way you implement daily work routines and even how meetings are scheduled. At the end of the article, you will find a combination of these different methods of time management for a typical working day, to share with your team.
4 effective time management strategies for employees and managers at work
1. The Pomodoro Technique
The 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. It is one of the most effective time management strategies for a good reason. This technique states that you should divide your time into sessions of 25 minutes 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 than for longer ones. The small breaks aim to boost your mind and avoid getting stuck in the same project. 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 a 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 your tasks 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 is 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 across. 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: 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. In other words, these are to-do-right-away projects.
- Q2, Top Right Box: important but not as urgent. Here you will 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: not important but urgent tasks. Interruptions, daily work bombs, etc. You will have to deal with these tasks first before you focus again on your Q1 box.
- Q4, Bottom Right Box: not important, not urgent issues. Well, these projects are probably boring or dull duties for you. Delegate or cancel them altogether, if possible!
This is one of the most effective time management strategies because, after the categorization of your tasks, it is easier to plan your day or even week ahead. There is another plus to using 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 about unimportant details!
3. The Getting Things Done Technique (GTD)
This is among the most widely used and effective time management strategies. You might actually have been using this method already without even realizing it! Let’s see how you can improve your time management by following the 5 steps of this simple system. It is actually an analysis of your usual to-do list. This time management technique lies in our reaction to big and seemingly difficult projects, in comparison to small and easier tasks. Let’s break it down:
- Collect all the tasks you have to do
- Clarify them. Are they doable? What are every task’s deadline and effort required?
- Organize 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 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 an overview of how loaded it is. You will know which days you might be able to leave early and set up a meeting with friends or a doctor’s appointment.
The idea of dividing time into 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 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.
These are 4 effective time management strategies that truly work. But, never forget to choose a strategy that matches your position and personality. Naturally, employees, team leaders, and small business owners use different time management methods. Better yet, combine those tools to schedule your day in a “time-management” optimized way!
A typical working day system
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 Pomodoro! Don’t forget to take breaks; they are the secret to success.
– Before you leave the office, overview your 168 hours chart. Check what you have done and what you have 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 effective time management strategies you will never go back to the old way of working.