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Key Secrets to Effective Time Management

Time management is a fundamental soft skill for success. Having good time management skills simply means getting quality work done in record time. When you have a lot of tasks to accomplish in a short timeframe, it takes good time management to get all the tasks done effectively. Bad time management hinders productivity, increases stress levels, encourages procrastination, and ultimately leads to burnout. Before we start divulging the secrets to effective time management, here are some principles of time management that you will find equally helpful.

The Four Ds of Time Management

This principle is very popular among product managers because they are famous for being extremely busy people. However, we can all learn effective time management from the 4Ds principle. This principle is supposed to help you discern which tasks to complete first, and which to save for later. It is perfect for people that easily get overwhelmed when they have a ton of work to do.

The four Ds stand for 4 categories:

  • Do,
  • Defer/Delay,
  • Delegate, and
  • Drop/Delete.

The idea is to list all the tasks you have for the day, and group them in order of importance and urgency.

Tasks that fall into the Do category, are the ones that have the utmost importance and must be attended to immediately. In other words, a task falls into this category if it is necessary to do it right now. That task will be the first thing you attend to. Now, tasks that fall into this category should not be challenging, and should only take you a few minutes to get done. The goal is to build momentum for the most daunting project by attending to all the easier ones first.

Examples of tasks that fall into the Do category include responding to an email, sitting down for breakfast, and other necessary everyday rituals.

Tasks that fall into the Defer category, are the ones that may be time-consuming and do not need to be handled right away. These tasks should be deferred or delayed till a later time when you are done with the more urgent ones.

Examples of tasks that fall into this category are work projects, freelancing gigs, workout sessions, and so on.

Tasks that fall into the Delegate category are tasks that you can have someone else perform on your behalf and the change in personnel will not affect the quality of work done. These tasks may be time-consuming and necessary, but not expertise-specific.

Examples of tasks that fall into this category include grocery shopping, filing documents, organizing cabinets, and so on.

Tasks that fall into the Delete category are the ones that are neither necessary nor urgent. Declutter your to-do list by striking out unproductive meetings.

The 18 minutes Approach by Peter Bregman.

The goal of this principle is to evaluate how well you’ve spent your day, and note areas where improvement is needed for the next day.

Following this principle, Peter Bregman recommends that you:

Spend five minutes reflecting on the activities of the day and prioritizing them.

Take a 1-minute break every hour after you start your day to reflect on the past 60 minutes and see how you can make the next hour productive.

Spend five minutes at the end of every day reviewing how the day went and noting down areas to improve on the following day.

Tips for Effective Time Management Include

Value quality over quantity.

Focus on getting good results. Spending a lot of time on a task doesn’t guarantee quality. If you get can get it done in 5 minutes, don’t stall on it for 10 minutes.

Set stipulated timeframes for each task.

On your to-do list, assign time limits to each task. Only spend as much time on a task as you allotted. If you don’t finish the task within that time, move on to other ones and come back to it after you are done with the rest.

Pause social media activities until you have accomplished at least 70% of your tasks for the day.

Unless your job revolves around social media, it can be very distracting and time-consuming. Turn off your notifications and use access to social media as a reward for getting tasks done instead. It will surprise you how quickly you finish them.

Draw up a timetable and include your breaks too.

Not only should you schedule your work tasks, draft a timetable, and include coffee breaks, restroom breaks, and other trivial things that are not on your to-do list. It will be easier to follow a routine if everything is accounted for and allotted an amount of time.

Establish a routine and stick to it.

Carry out activities in the same pattern every day. You’ll get more work done if you have a set routine and be less prone to giving in to procrastination.

Identify the time when you are most productive and leverage it.

Identify the moments when you are really into the flow and just want to take on more tasks, and make the most of it. All that extra work done by putting your enthusiasm to good use would make up for the days when you struggle to be productive.

Take Home

Time is the only universal currency that maintains the same value regardless of location and job description. Everyone has the same number of hours; 24 hours. What makes it look like some people have more is good time management. Work on your time management, and you can hit milestones you never envisioned in record time.

I hope these tips help you improve.

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