Laura Iñiguez, Content Manager at Hirebook
Laura is a content and social media strategist with deep experience in Employee Engagement, People Management, and Culture. She works with Hirebook to bring their innovative best practices to life through content, videos, and webinars seen by thousands around the globe.
Pub: September 10 2021
Upd: March 28 2023
We’ve all felt like the day just flew by and we barely got anything done, where did all those hours go? When you think about it, time management is not entirely about managing time, but about managing yourself.
The way we organize and manage our time directly affects our performance and our results, but many of us struggle with managing our time effectively. If we use time management techniques that suit our lifestyle, we’ll be able to make the most of our day, accomplish tasks faster and learn how to prioritize what needs to be done more urgently and will make the most impact.
But not every time management methodology is good for all of us, we all learn differently and need diverse stimuli depending on the kind of person that we are or the situation we’re in. A visual person may need color-coding methods to schedule their activities, while an auditory person could use different alarms. And a housewife may need to manage their time differently than a college student.
The key to efficient time management is to figure out what works best for you. But we’ve gathered top time management strategies that are a good fit for (mostly) everyone.
Sounds redundant and quite obvious, but most people don’t know how to prioritize goals and tasks correctly, and end up super stressed trying to have everything done barely meeting their deadline. If you don’t have a clear set of goals, chances are you’re going to do what “feels” more urgent or whatever crossed your path first. You’ll also be constantly distracted by any sound or shiny object around you because you won’t fully concentrate on what has to be done and why.
You need to do a time management assessment to figure out what your true priorities are and spread them out accordingly; setting either yearly, monthly, weekly or daily goals. Now that you have this ready, rank each of these goals using the following system:
- Importance: A=High, B=Medium, C=Low
- Urgency: 1=High, 2=Medium, 3=Low
Always work on the most Urgent and Important goals first (A1), and then move forward down your list of goals.
2. Follow the 80/20 Rule
The 80/20, also known as Pareto’s Principle, says that 20 percent of your actions are responsible for 80 percent of your results. The goal of this principle is to help you prioritize those tasks that are most effective at solving problems.
- First, list some of the problems you are facing: For example, you’re not interviewing as many candidates as you should.
- Identify the root of each problem: Maybe you’re not interviewing as many people because you’ve been leaving work early for a personal matter.
- Assign a score to each problem: Assign higher numbers to the most important problems.
- Group problems together by cause: Group together all the problems caused by you leaving early.
- Add up the score to each group: The group with the higher score is the one you should focus on first.
- Take action.
3. Eat That Frog
This time management practice is named after a Mark Twain quote:
“Eat a live frog the first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day”
This basically means that the first thing you should do at the start of your day are the roughest and most dreadful tasks to get them out of the way and find it easier to do the rest of your tasks. Also, those “frogs” are usually the tasks that have the greatest impact on achieving your goals, which is why they are usually the ones you’re most likely to procrastinate starting.
4. Stop Working
Believe it or not, working continuously will only affect your productivity and concentration. You need to take frequent breaks to avoid burnout and clear your mind to allow it to think better when getting back to work. One of our favorite time management techniques is the Pomodoro one, which states that you should work for 25 minutes and then take a 5 minute break, after four breaks (or four pomodoros), you have to take a longer break, and repeat this throughout the day.
Whenever you take a break, try to do something different than scrolling through your social networks. Go for a walk, read a chapter of whatever book you’re reading, or just enjoy a nice cup of coffee. Whatever takes your mind completely off work. Taking breaks will make you feel refreshed and give you a nice boost, not to mention that you’ll significantly improve your time management and productivity.
5. Allocate Your Time
Do you have any idea of how long it takes you to do a particular task? Thought you might not know. Not to worry, most people don’t really know how much time they dedicate to their daily activities.
Knowing how much of your time you allocate to each task and activity will give you a better sense of planning and you’ll be able to organize your workday with ease. You need to start tracking how much time you dedicate to each activity, you can use a time tracking software, or you can go old school and use your Google Calendar to set the start and finish times every time you focus on a certain task. Eventually, you’ll be able to plan every workday assigning time frames for each activity, and even set your breaks! You could even use such software for managing interior design projects, for example, when not at work.
6. Be a Monotasker
People now think that multitasking is a strength, but it actually impacts negatively on your productivity and it can actually damage your brain. A study conducted by the Stanford University showed that when multitaskers are “in situations where there are multiple sources of information coming from the external world or emerging out of memory, they’re not able to filter out what’s not relevant to their current goal. That failure to filter means they’re slowed down by that irrelevant information.”
So, it’s better to do one thing at a time to keep focused and stay engaged in your work.
7. The 4D System
One effective task management practice is to organize your tasks into four separate quadrants, sorting them by important vs. unimportant and urgent vs. not urgent. Urgent tasks are those that should be done immediately. Important tasks are those that contribute to your long-term goals. So, ideally, you’d end up dividing your tasks into these four Ds.
- Do now: Do the urgent tasks first to avoid feelings of anxiety and stress.
- Defer: Do the important tasks after the urgent ones, they’re not a high priority item but should be done to keep on track of the long-term goals
- Delegate: If there is an important task that doesn’t necessarily have to be done by you, give it to someone else.
- Delete: What are the consequences of not doing the task at all? Consider the 80/20 rule, maybe you’d just end up wasting time.
Mastering time management techniques take time and effort, but it’ll surely pay you back in the long run and you’ll be set up for success in different areas of your life. Remember that you can use Hirebook’s Tasks and OKRs features to help you have a clear idea of everything you need to accomplish and track your progress effectively.
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