Everyone has a unique way of going about the responsibilities in their lives that is specific and personal. Some people can set their minds to a task and get it done through self-discipline. Others may be easily distracted and require external sources of discipline to get the job done. Whichever tendencies you have, you’ll benefit immensely from finding the short-term and long-term time management methods that are right for you.
Don’t worry if you haven’t found your time management niche — grab one of these methods and get started; you can switch your time management lineup later.
Short-Term Methods for Finding the Best Time Management for You
Busy periods at work can scatter various tasks, meetings, and breaks throughout your day and spread you as a result. It can be challenging to manage all of these responsibilities separately, particularly in your mindset. Jumping from one thing to another makes it harder to dedicate proper focus to each one.
Time-blocking involves scheduling days into blocks of related work so, as responsibilities arise, you can fit them into efficient times. For example, instead of various meetings cutting into other tasks throughout the day, you can create a four-hour block only for appointments. Afterward, you’ll have a different block to create a presentation, during which time you won’t schedule anything else.
The Pomodoro Method
If you have trouble staying on task, a timer-based method like the Pomodoro Method may be helpful to you. Set a timer for 25 minutes and get to work until it runs out, then give yourself a five-minute break. Do this four times, but once the fourth iteration is complete, take a more extended, 30-45 minute break.
The purpose of this method is to use focus in bursts — and take frequent breaks to recharge for the next focus sprint. Twenty-five minutes seems short but stacks — and 25 minutes of quality work is better than an hour of the alternative. It works because the timer acts as a loose schedule and encourages focus, knowing you’ll get a break soon.
The Eisenhower Matrix
The Eisenhower Matrix is helpful for those who have trouble prioritizing specific tasks over others, causing none to get done. It is, essentially, a chart that helps you divide tasks into four sections based on urgency and importance. These sections are: urgent and important, urgent and not necessary, not urgent and essential, and not urgent and not necessary.
The first section is the most crucial and is saved for tasks with close deadlines and consequences for an incompletion. The second is for those due soon but not required, and the third is for long-term tasks that must get done. Finally, the fourth is for unnecessary tasks that can either be deleted or saved until all others are done.
Long-Term Methods of Time Management:
Online Calendar Software
Online calendar software provides an outstanding foundation for time management in terms of pure convenience. Unlike the following options, it is built and maintained by outside professionals specifically for this purpose. As a result, these calendars are expertly technologically designed and easy to get into. In addition, most programs can sync between devices, meaning you’ll always have your calendar if you have one.
Many calendar platforms even have some of the aforementioned short-term methods integrated to consolidate everything. This means you don’t have to sit down and create a system for yourself, which can be intimidating. Online software is ideal for those who work better under externally-established structures rather than self-imposed ones.
Paper Planners May Help Your Time Management
Despite the versatility of digital calendar technology, said technology is not always the best for everyone. Some prefer more active planning techniques, like paper planners — the physical nature of which reminds you to stick to them. If online scheduling isn’t tangible enough to keep you focused, a paper planner can be placed in front of you.
Whether you create them yourself or print a template online, paper planners are a separate object to your devices. Instead of navigating your phone and potentially complicated scheduling platform, you can keep the paper on you. Checking off tasks with a pencil is also perfect for giving your brain a more tangible sense of accomplishment.
Bullet journals serve a similar purpose but provide more external formatting and detail in how they are designed and arranged. Paper planners may feel unstructured, but online calendars may be overwhelming, so bullet journals are the ideal medium. You can get any kind from stationery stores to fit your needs, but you can also customize them to a degree.
Another advantage of bullet journals is that they tend to be compact and easy to carry in your personal bag. Some are even made small enough to carry in your pocket if you want them to be easier to reach. However you go about purchasing one, you’ll be able to find one that works best in any of these ways.
Whiteboards Help Many People With Eraceable Time Management
Whiteboards aren’t generally portable but are great if you do most of your work in one place or work remotely. They come in all shapes and sizes and are easily erasable — and, therefore, can be restructured to suit your day. If you grow tired of the same methods after a while, you can change your planning style directly.
For example, you could start out planning the month and find that it’s just too much to write and organize. Then, you must erase it and cut down the time period to a more manageable week. Your plans can be shifted around tangibly and up on the wall in front of you.
Tablet planners combine these options; they are digital but easy to personalize and transport. For example, you can write your schedule in an app, like a paper planner, or use one to emulate a bullet journal. You can even use it as a larger version of your online calendar, and the mobile interface encourages accessibility.
There are a few downsides to tablets: they aren’t as small as a phone, are often expensive, etc. Think of a tablet as, essentially, a digital clipboard in the way they are carried and used. It might be something that appeals heavily to you, particularly if you purchase a stylus as well.
A Combination of Resources Will Help You Organize
So, from here, where do you start? What if you begin and find that none of these options help you consolidate your schedule or manage your time? Well, the truth is, you don’t have to use just one time management method across the board. It may be easier to use different ones in different parts of your life or for other tasks.
You could, for instance, use a whiteboard at home for personal goals and to-dos and an online calendar for work. The former gives more creative freedom in organizing your life, while the latter may be conducive to keeping things professional. It’s all about what works at the moment, even if that means trying new methods in addition to your others.
Finding the right time management method for you — means endeavoring to organize your life to benefit your productivity. It’s not easy to begin, especially if you’ve found yourself in a productivity rut — or glitch.
But don’t give up! Once you find a method that works for you — and get in the groove — you’ll be surprised how much you end up getting done. And, you can be confident in your progress moving forward.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Anete Lusina; Pexels; Thank you!
My name is Howie and I'm a Customer Success Manager at Calendar. I like to ensure our customers get the best experience using our product. If you have questions email me howie at calendar.com