Last Updated on April 8, 2022 by Stephanie
Do you feel like you have a hard time keeping up with life? Do you have a million tasks on your list and feel like you never have enough time to get them done?
You are in the majority.
I’ve got stuff. There are lots of things that I have to accomplish in a given week and there are times that I might think it’s a lot, but I have the systems in place to help me get everything done. I like to think I am not in the majority. To help you climb out of the “I’m so busy” trap, you need to figure out what systems work best for you. If you haven’t already read my post about building productivity systems, that is an awesome post for you to check out!
With that said, let’s look at a few different time management techniques that can help you get through things on your list. Some of these might work for you and some might not. In fact, one of the techniques I talk about here is a total no for me. It works for so many others though, so I had to include it in this post!
What is Time Management?
To start, we have to have a hard conversation with ourselves. How many times have the words “There’s just not enough time to…” come out of your mouth? We have all been there and we, myself included, have all said that. The problem is this though: We do have time. Everyone on earth has the same amount of time in their day. This is universal and does not vary person-to-person. 24 hours.
You have the time, but a great deal of that time is wasted.
How many times have the words “Oh my gosh, did you see…” or “Did you watch…” or even “So and so on Facebook posted…” come out of your mouth? Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t ever watch TV or scroll social media, because I do that all the time. However, if you’ve got a to-do list a mile long, DVR The Bachelor and get your crap done.
If you are overwhelmed with stuff to do, lock your phone in the car, hide the remote, and do the stuff.
I wrote an entire post about how great productivity systems can help you get over stress and overwhelm, so go check it out! Now that you’ve freed up an hour or two, check out these couple of tricks to help you get the stuff done.
Time Management Technique #1 – The Pomodoro Technique
This was my life when I was working from home last year. I am an elementary music teacher and we spent a lot of last year making videos and assignments for kids because we weren’t meeting with them live. It was a hot mess and if I did not have my time scheduled, I would have gone insane. Enter in The Pomodoro Technique.
What is the Pomodoro Technique?
The Pomodoro Technique is was created by an entrepreneur named Fancesco Cirillo. It uses a timer to break up your time into intervals. Funny enough, it is called the Pomodoro Technique because Cirillo used a timer shaped like a tomato while doing it. This actually came out of his desire to be a bit more effective with his time. He discovered that the best way to do this was by being able to accurately estimate how long a task would take to complete.
How to practice the Pomodoro Technique.
The popularity of this technique is probably because of how easy it is. All it requires is a timer and a notepad. If you want to adopt Cirillo’s idea of finding out how long tasks take, then keeping a Pomodoro checklist like this freebie below can help you even more! Here are the basics:
- Pick a task.
- Set a timer for 25-30 minutes (I personally like to do 25 minutes) and focus on that task.
- Take a 3-5 minute break (I personally like 5 minutes because that allows for nice 30 minute time blocks!).
- Every four Pomodoros (work-break sets), take a longer 15-20 minute break!
Modifications and tips for the Pomodoro Technique.
Change up the timing. If you are new to this idea of focused work, you might want to make that work time shorter. Keep the breaks just as short though, only 3-5 minutes. The times mentioned above are the most commonly talked about. There is always room for making it work better for you.
Make sure that your times of focused work is just that – focused. Put your phone away, and close the email in your browser. Do not allow yourself to be distracted. Speaking of which, if the email is something you have a hard time getting distracted by, check out my series of posts on practicing Inbox Zero.
If you are more interested in trying The Pomodoro Technique, click on the image below to grab these freebies for tracking your time and tasks:
Next, I want to talk about another timed technique called Time-Blocking.
Time Management Technique #2 – Time Blocking
I’ve tried this technique and every time, it just doesn’t work for me. My blocks of time are limited to around 30 minutes and vary from day-to-day because of my school schedule. So many random things happen during the day that I can’t set up blocks like that. That being said, that does not mean that it won’t work for you!
What is Time Blocking?
Time Blocking is essentially putting in your meetings and must do scheduled things into your daily plan, and then blocking out time for all of your tasks. This means blocking everything including the things that distract you most, like email and social media. When we allow ourselves to bounce back and forth between different things, our attention takes on average around 20 minutes to refocus fully. Planning a blocked-out schedule helps you focus that time on the tasks that you need to get done. Below is an example of a time-blocked schedule. I’ve got larger chunks of time no less than an hour dedicated to various tasks.
Modifications and Tips for Time Blocking.
This technique is best for people whose days are not structured for them. You can choose when meetings and things can be scheduled when you are in control of your time. If you are in a constant state of flux and can have abrupt changes to your day, then time-blocking might not be for you.
Batching tasks together works great for time blocking. Grouping things together can help you get into a flow state where you are doing similar tasks and becoming more efficient at them. Again, it takes us around 20 minutes to refocus fully when moving from task to task. Let’s take my life here on the blog as an example. Creating graphics for the site, pins, and Instagram has me on one website and presumably doing similar things.
Now, if I went day by day instead, I would be switching between creating a post, then making a graphic for Pinterest and pinning it, then making a graphic for Instagram and scheduling that to post. You would think that I would be getting more done that way, but I’m not. When I get in the groove of one thing I become more and more efficient at that task. This helps me get it all done for the week much faster.
Similar to the idea of batching tasks is creating a theme for the day! When I saw this idea, I thought it was awesome. Your blocks are focused on writing one day. The next day is focused on getting your social media in line. These are great tricks to helping your brain get into the habit of staying focused on one thing at a time.
Time Management Technique #3 – The Rapid Planning Method
This was a method that I was unfamiliar with at the start of writing this post. Developed by Tony Robbins, it is quite interesting. This method is more about the bigger picture of planning and less about the small bits and pieces of your to-do list. It is focusing on that bigger picture that helps you identify the things that you most need to accomplish by prioritizing based on what you most want to accomplish. People refer to the Rapid Planning Method simply as RPM, which also refers to each component of the method.
R – Result
The result portion is where you state, with awesome clarity, what you would like to accomplish. This can be a weekly idea or a portion of your bigger goal. The idea is not to reinvent your to-do lists necessarily but think about the bigger picture. I think about the beginning of the week as a teacher. Instead of saying “Do lesson plans”, I would be perfectly clear by saying, “Get lesson plans for all grade levels complete along with their materials for the upcoming week.” Just putting it in those words creates more purpose and specificity to what I’m doing. One person put it that you are focusing on the final outcome.
P – Purpose
Your why. If you cannot find a purpose for everything you are doing, there is no point in doing it. Everything in your day should have a purpose. It may not be an end of life, greater than yourself purpose. It could be eating lunch to, you know… survive. Or, it could be crushing your goal of being 15 pounds lighter so you are a good role model for your kid and you don’t have to be on blood pressure meds for the rest of your life. Even work tasks that are handed down to you should have a purpose. If you can’t find the purpose, ask someone what the purpose is.
M – MAP (Massive Action Plan)
This plan starts off with all the things that you need to do to accomplish the result you desire. Sit down and list out all the things needed to do what you want. Now you chunk these things together and prioritize them. If I’m using my teacher lesson plans as my example, I might make a list like this:
- K-5 general plan for week.
- K-5 specific plan in Planbook for the week (While doing this, make a list of materials needed for the next week)
- Create any materials needed for the next week
- Print out any materials needed for the next week and plans for the next week.
- Put all materials in file folders for grade level.
I know what I have to do first. I also know the steps necessary for the rest of what I need to get done. I’ve broken everything down into specific tasks, and now I can act on it. If I wanted, I could also create a timeline for each piece of the puzzle.
Modifications and tips for RPM
RPM is something I believe works best for larger tasks. If you aren’t someone who has a lot of bigger projects and tasks in front of you, I don’t know how beneficial it will be to you. However, if you are a content creator, I think it could work wonders for your productivity. For goal setting, I think this is a solid way of thinking about things, but don’t know if I would use it at the beginning of the day or the evening before.
Main Time Management Takeaways
Honestly, if you got anything out of this post, I hope that it was in the first section about what time management actually is. Time management is self-discipline. You can try these systems and figure out better ways to do things, but it really does come down to you. Chances are, you wanted to learn something and you feel like you are overwhelmed with stuff to do if you clicked on this. Are you going to do the ordinary and what you’ve always done?
Or are you going to do something extraordinary today?
Tell me what you’re going to try!
Also, Check out my productivity printables available in my shop if you want some more great tools to help you get things done.