3 Time Management Techniques to Leverage Your Time

These time management techniques get things done, reduce procrastination, and develop a laser-life focus.

As a time management coach I often meet people who feel they don't have enough time in the day. They have been working hard but feel they haven't got to their most important tasks.

This can be very frustrating! There are only 24 hours in a day and these techniques leverage your time to get things done with less stress.

Here I provide 3 time management techniques to leverage your time. These are:

  1. Protect your vital few activities from the trivial many
  2. Practice the 4D's on email and paper
  3. The Pomodoro principle for targeted focus.

1. Protect the vital few activities from the trivial many

You only have 24 hours in a day and many people think that they need to work hard or longer hours.

But if there was one technique that could apply maximum leverage to you available time then it would be to schedule your most important things first and let everything else fit around this.

If you were the average worker and I was to freeze you in ice today you would have over 300 hours of work that is still yet to be done. No wonder so many people feel overwhelmed and stressed out!

The mind shift is that you cannot possibly get all of this done. This is difficult to accept! This means is that you need to ensure that:

The vital few things that matter to you are not at the mercy of the trivial many.

These vital few are your Pareto activities. These are

  • your key projects and activities at work
  • your family, your health, and the pursuit of your passions/hobbies/interests outside of work.

To often the trivial many activities - the unimportant meetings, the constant interruptions, the never-ending email crowd out what is important. How do you ensure that you get the important things done?

This time management article talks about scheduling your big rocks into your weekly planner first. Once you have them in then the smaller stuff can fit around it.

Symptoms of poor time management are stress and a feeling of overwhelm. Take the time management survey today.

I have found that my clients like to use

Whether you use paper or electronic, what is important is that you have a snapshot of your week! Having a weekly plan helps you know where the bottlenecks of activity are and allows you to organize your time and resources.

Importantly, by drawing up a weekly plan you also develop a time management schedule that boosts your time management skills.

2. Practice the 4 D's to avoid procrastination

This is one of these time management techniques that can save time on email. One of the biggest time-wasters I see in the office is email. While email has the potential to be a great productivity tool far too many people are living their lives out of the Inbox.

This is a problem when you need to

  • focus on writing reports,
  • think about strategy, or
  • get some traction on key projects.

A simple yet effective strategy is to batch your email and when you check your email then practice the 4 D approach.

This is easy to say but difficult to do.

What helps is that whenever you open your inbox that you have four action verbs upper most in your mind.

  1. Dump: These are messages that you don't need to hold (delete) or they are for informational purposes only (file)
  2. Do Now: These actions are ones that you can do now (less than 2 minutes).
  3. Defer: These are actions that involve a short period of time (which I call tasks) and ones that are longer and need to be put into the calendar. In Outlook and Lotus Notes it is easy to drag and drop these emails to either calendar or tasks.
  4. Delegate: Those emails that hold an action but those actions are not for you. You will also need to have a system that tracks this follow up. An easy system is to go to your SENT folder and drag this into tasks (in Outlook) or To Dos (in Lotus Notes) and then put the category FOLLOWUP.

3. Use the Pomodoro Time Management Technique for a laser-like focus

Multitasking has the potential do make a Harvard graduate as productive as an eight year old?

fMRI studies support the fact that doing multiple things at once is a very poor way to use the brain's energy output.This is why the Pomodoro technique. The Pomodoro technique was developed in 1992 and is deceptively easy and quite powerful and has the potential to develop a laser like focus.

With this time management activity you will need a kitchen timer (or stop watch). Your job is to tackle each item on your to-do list for 25 minutes (a Pomodoro).

Download a to do list template and when you have finished one Pomodoro mark the item with an X. Also mark down with a (') how many times your were interrupted in your 25 minute of concentrated activity. At the end of 25 minutes give yourself a 3-5 minute break before commencing your next Pomodoro.

This is one of those time management techniques that helps you to stay focused over the period. You will also start to notice how many interruptions and distractions there are in your high concentration period.

If you liked these time management techniques then you may also like these time management activities.

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