Time management is essential for success in any aspect of life. From personal tasks to professional projects, the ability to manage time efficiently can be the difference between success and failure.
One of the most effective time management methods is timeboxing. This method is used by Elon Musk, known for his insane work ethic, to achieve incredible productivity.
You can think of timeboxing as simply migrating your to-do list into your calendar.
As this Harvard Business Review article points out, in a survey of 100 productivity hacks, timeboxing was ranked the most useful.
Timeboxing is the practice of setting a specific amount of time to work on tasks, then integrating those blocks of time into your schedule in your calendar. The aim is to complete each task within the set timeframe, avoiding procrastination and distractions.
Everything that I want to do in a given week, whether professional or personal, goes into my calendar as an appointment with myself.
If I want to create the first draft of a new planning document, it goes into my calendar as an appointment. Time needed to prep for a meeting? That goes into the calendar as well. Reviewing my son’s school report card – yep, that becomes an appointment too. Gym sessions and date nights – all go into the calendar.
To apply timeboxing, think proactively.
At the start of each day, look at each task you need to get done and assign an amount of time to complete it. Then hold yourself accountable to completing that task within the given time frame.
Give yourself buffer time when you complete a task for the first time. Set yourself a goal for how long you aim to take to complete it, and then add 20% to 30% extra to give yourself a buffer. This way, you can develop an understanding of how long it takes to complete certain tasks.
Small tasks can add up and be a significant source of distraction. Therefore, try to group small activities together into a single block. This method can improve your efficiency when completing the tasks.
Finally, minimize your distractions by turning off notifications on various apps and putting your phone out of sight. Ensure you are focusing only on the task at hand.
Another effective time management strategy is to cut your week vertically, rather than horizontally.
This method groups like activities together and creates the space in your calendar for the thinking time you’re probably not getting.
This approach suits current situations much better since it provides larger chunks of creative time than a single morning can provide.
If you haven’t ever created an ideal week, doing so is a game-changer. Whether you decide to cut your week horizontally or vertically is up to you. Experiment with both, and group like activities together.
One of the biggest mistakes in time management is having a to-do list that is too long. A to-do list should be about priorities, not the quantity of tasks.
It should be a short one-page report on your goals for the quarter, and your to-do list should be pulled directly from that list. Only put things on the list if they support your overall goals and plans for the quarter or year. You want to think about what are the one or two things that are going to create the most value this week, and then put those things on the list.
If it doesn’t support your goals, it should be outsourced, delegated or taken off the list altogether.
In conclusion, effective time management is essential for success, both personally and professionally. Timeboxing and cutting your week vertically are two of the most effective time management methods. By grouping like activities together and prioritizing your to-do list, you can limit distractions and have a laser focus on the most important items on your list. These strategies will help you to become more efficient, achieve more in less time, and reach your full potential.
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