How many times have you sat down at your desk to work on an important project only to find yourself aimlessly wandering the internet and checking your phone? If you have time management systems in place, this won’t happen as much (or at all). With the right tools, you can plan out how you spend your time and avoid distractions that waste it. Check out these seven time management systems that will help you save time in the long run.
1) The Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is a simple time management system that breaks your work into 25-minute sprints, separated by 5-minute breaks. It’s easy to implement and highly effective—and it requires no special tools or services. To use The Pomodoro Technique, simply set a timer for 25 minutes (set it for 20 if you need to break up bigger tasks) and focus entirely on one task until your timer rings. Then give yourself a short break, followed by another intense session of 25 minutes. By taking frequent breaks, you keep your mind fresh and engaged in what you’re doing. And by limiting each sprint to 25 minutes, you avoid getting caught up in long bouts of unproductive time.
For more information about how to start using The Pomodoro Technique in your own life, check out our full guide: Time Management Tips: How to Use The Pomodoro Technique.
2) The Delegation System
One of our time management systems, which is also a well-known time management tip, is called The Delegation System. This system allows you to get rid of some unnecessary tasks and tasks that take up too much of your time. Once you’ve set up your delegation system, you should create a task list with all possible activities that are on your plate right now. Try not to look at that list for a few days because sometimes we can’t really see what we have on our plates in real life until we take some distance from it.
3) Getting Things Done (GTD)
Developed by productivity guru David Allen, GTD is a time-management methodology that aims to help you save time and avoid overwhelm. The process has five steps: capture, clarify, organize, reflect and engage. Getting things off your mind is key in boosting your mental energy (it’s far easier to be more productive when you’re not worried about forgetting something). Next comes clarifying what needs to be done—we call it getting clarity. If a task takes less than two minutes, do it immediately; if a task takes longer than two minutes but less than 10 minutes, add it to your calendar for that day or at least flag it in some way.
4) The Eisenhower Matrix
Originally developed by Dwight D. Eisenhower, former president of The United States, it’s a productivity time management tool that sorts tasks into four quadrants. A task should be completed in its entirety as soon as possible; a task should be completed at a time of day when you have enough energy and clarity to focus on it properly; a task should be delegated to someone else because it doesn’t align with your skills or your team can do it better than you can; and finally, any remaining tasks are either unnecessary or don’t need to be done right now. Consider using Eisenhower’s matrix system in order to more effectively manage your time and prioritize how you spend each day.
5) Kanban Method
The Kanban Method was popularized by Toyota and uses a visual representation of your work. The physical board is divided into three piles (or columns), labeled To Do, Doing, and Done. The basic idea is that you put all your tasks in one pile—the To Do pile—and as you complete each task you move it to one of the other piles. When a task moves from To Do to Doing, that means you’re actively working on it; and when it moves to Done, it’s time to start looking for another task.
6) Using Google Calendar Effectively
Google Calendar is a fantastic tool, but so many people never really figure out how to use it effectively. If you want to save time and get more done, check out these time management tips for Google Calendar. Google Calendar can be used for all sorts of things, like tracking your appointments or paying bills on time (all those little things you always forget), but here are some ways to use it as an overall system for saving time. One idea is that you try dividing your tasks into different colors and then adding appointments based on their colors.
7) Cold Turkey
Going cold turkey is like ripping off a bandage—it’s uncomfortable and often painful, but it gets results. For example, quitting smoking or restricting calories for a week are both forms of cold turkey. Cold-turkey approaches work because they eliminate temptations and reduce your chances of failing by cutting out options. If you have a big goal—like reading more books or saving more money—cold turkey can help you cut down on wasted time and opportunities that get in your way.