From writing out to-do lists to setting smartphone alarms, sometimes everything you do to try to maximize your time and get things done doesn’t seem to do the trick. Luckily, with the help of some tried-and-trued techniques, you’ll be well on your way to boosting your productivity and getting your time back on track.
From former president Dwight D. Eisenhower’s “Eisenhower Matrix” to Tony Robbin’s “Rapid Planning Method,” there are a number of methods you can try to help manage your time and get everything done. To learn more, here are six helpful time management techniques.
1. The Eisenhower Matrix
The Eisenhower Matrix is a time management practice that helps you prioritize tasks based on urgency and importance. Created by Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Eisenhower principle coordinates and organizes tasks into four quadrants: “do first,” “schedule,” “delegate” and “don’t do.” Any tasks placed in the “do first” quadrant are those that should be tackled immediately—tasks that are most effective in moving your life and career forward. Tasks under “schedule,” are also important but can be taken on at a later date—your non-urgent tasks. Anything that is urgent yet less important, can be delegated to others; and anything not urgent at all can be completely taken off your to-do list.
2. Pomodoro Technique
Created by Francesco Cirillo, the Pomodoro Technique dates back to the 1980s and has skyrocketed in popularity ever since. This time management method works by breaking down work into 25-minute uninterrupted intervals, with five minute breaks in between. After you’ve done four rounds of “pomodoros,” reward yourself with a longer 20-minute break. That longer break will give your brain time to rest and reset, and the ability to absorb new information.
3. GTD Technique
The GTD Technique, which literally stands for “getting things done,” is a productivity and time management system created by productivity consultant and best-selling author David Allen. The GTD technique is based on the concept that you have a lot of “inputs,” meaning things like thoughts and tasks that enter your mind and you have to decide what to do with them. However, instead of brushing them aside and hoping you’ll remember to do them later, Allen’s approach is to capture each of these inputs and put them somewhere like an inbox, to-do list or calendar. According to Allen, “Your brain is for having ideas, not storing them.” By storing your inputs somewhere and allowing yourself to get to them on your own time, you help your mind relax, calm down and have the opportunity to focus on the one thing you’ve chosen to at that time. The GTD technique can be achieved in five steps: first, capture your thoughts; second, clarify what they mean; third, organize them and put them where they belong; fourth, reflect on them; and lastly, engage and begin.
4. Pareto Principle
While the name might not sound all too familiar, you may know the Pareto Principle better as the “80/20 rule.” When it comes to productivity, this rule means that 80 percent of results come from 20 percent of action. Of course, don’t be fooled—the Pareto Principle isn’t encouraging you to work any less. Instead, it advises people to focus their efforts on the things that matter most—things that will have the largest impact on their future and goals.
5. Important-Urgent Matrix
Similar to the Eisenhower Matrix and popularized by Stephen Covey’s acclaimed book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, the Important-Urgent Matrix is a two-by-two matrix to help people categorize their work more effectively. On one axis, are the urgent and not urgent tasks and on the second are important and not important. As a result, you have four quadrants: tasks that are important and urgent, important but not urgent, not important but urgent, and lastly not important and not urgent. Staring at the chart, you’ll be provided a sense of direction on where to get started and how to prioritize your tasks effectively and efficiently.
6. Rapid Planning Method
Created by entrepreneur, best-selling author and public speaker, Tony Robbins, the Rapid Planning Method (RPM) makes people focus on doing what is truly important. However, unlike many other methods, RPM not only urges people to hone in on their most important tasks but to understand why they are the most important to them. RPM is a flexible plan that combines a time management system with a process of personal fulfillment so you not only feel like you’re getting things done but that they have a purpose too.