Do you find yourself constantly debating how to organize everything you have to do on your never-ending to-do list? That’s a yes for me. The reality is we only have 24 hours in the day and how we use those hours dictates what’s important and what’s not to us.
I’ll share some time management tools that I apply to my own life that have worked and others that I loved and just haven’t for me personally.
As I grow older, I look at time differently. It’s a resource and one that is fleeting. So, my aim is to maximize my time to get the results I want to keep the needle moving forward. I know I have to account for my time to get to the goals I have. I also think with any tool you’re using, be flexible. You might be surprised how well something works for you that you didn’t think would.
Here are some of the most effective tools I’ve used and tried:
In essence, time blocking is scheduling out your entire day. If you use Google calendar or a physical planner, you would account for your time throughout the whole day. This would include your meals, work, workouts, etc. How you block your time is entirely up to you. You can leave spaces in the morning and maybe block 1:00-3:00 pm for task-oriented work. This gives you a visual of how your day will look and might help to ease your stress and anxiety as you can see how to fit everything in or when to move tasks around.
Here is a visual of time-blocking below for my personal calendar schedule.
This is the method I’ve used for years and personally found it effective. I find I can move things around easily and account for new obligations. When I plan to get a new project done, I account for the time and know that I can’t schedule or commit to anything else during that block.
This tool allows me to look back on the week before or month and see how my life looked. This is great when I reflect on what needs to change or stay the same. I could see this being a fit for someone who likes to have their entire day planned out and know what’s going on. I think this could work for anyone, even if you don’t like a strict schedule because you have the flexibility to move your blocks around or leave spaces open.
The Pomodoro Method was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. You basically work for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break. This system is a great way to dive into work without distractions as you know a break is coming up.
I think this could work well for college students more so than working professionals. College students have the flexibility of time in their schedules to design study schedules like this. I think when you are at work, you might have to adjust to strict deadlines.
While I think this method can be flexible because you can adjust the times, for me it didn’t work. Sometimes, I would feel like I’m just getting into the zone and super focused, and then I would have a break coming up but I didn’t want to lose my train of thought.
I will say, I think it’s worth giving it a fair shot. I go back to this tool and have a love/hate relationship with it. The benefits are that it keeps you in the zone and teaches you how to avoid distractions to stay on task.
Recap & How-To:
- Figure out how much time your activity takes
- Set a timer for 25 minutes, and then take a 5-minute break
- During the 25 minutes, no phones, social media, or distractions.
Fun fact: I am an expert at finding other things to do to avoid the ACTUAL things I have to do. This was me for some time. Enter the power hour tool. What is this sorcery? It’s actually quite simple. You schedule in one hour to complete the tasks or projects you absolutely need to do.
During this hour, you avoid whatever it is that distracts you. I love this method the most because I feel like an hour isn’t such a big ask and you would be surprised at exactly how much you get done in those 60 minutes when you really commit yourself.
I think this method is applicable to everyone, with some caveats. If you get distracted easily just know that your first few times scheduling in your power hour might require some serious discipline. If you are setting aside an hour, that means an hour––not a solid 30 minutes of deep work and 15 minutes scrolling your Instagram and posting pictures of how hard you are working.
I think this is one of the most powerful tools you can try. My husband ordered me the James Clear planner from Baronfig for tracking and it’s been a serious game-changer. I also just ordered “Atomic Habits” by James Clear that dives into this topic at length.
The truth is though, you don’t need a fancy tracker system to track your habits. I actually just used my phone or a planner I had on hand. I’d pick a few habits I’d want to monitor over the week and at the end of the day, I’d mark off if I did them or not.
So, for example, if your goal is to work-out 4 times a week, you would track your week and tally how many times you actually worked out vs what your goal was. I feel like it’s a nice way to be accountable to yourself and get a very clear visual on if you are meeting your own goals, and if you need to adjust or level-up.
I think this method is great for everyone to try and requires a minimal commitment of just making a few minutes to mark off if you did something or not.
Let me know what methods you use and which one you like the best in the comments below.