So far, there are countless time management methods and there are always new ones emerging.
At the same time, good time management takes place in the mind.
If it does not work in here, no method or app will help.
Nevertheless, the hat (that is, the time management method) must fit the head (meaning correct attitude/preferences/beliefs).
It is therefore advisable to choose the time management method that suits you best,
There is no “right” or “wrong”, but there is only one true fact:
A time management method works for you – or not.
That’s why I summarized the most common time management methods for you.
I want to show you a way through the time management method jungle.
The 10-10-10 method is a method of making decisions. Since decisions are the basis of good time management, it fits in very well here.
This method goes back to Suzy Welch (the wife of notorious manager Jack Welch) and states:
If you want to make a decision, ask yourself three questions:
What are the consequences of my decision in
- 10 minutes?
- In 10 months?
- In 10 years?
These three periods of time help you to distance yourself from the decision, so to consider the decision also on a kind of meta-level.
Similarly, you can do the same with your tasks. Thus, 10-10-10 becomes a concrete time management method.
Are you planning your day, then set tasks that have a big and positive impact in 10 minutes, 10 months and 10 years.
Ok, sometimes 10 years may be overkill, but you see the sense of the method.
Conversely, you can of course opt against a task or activity, because it might bring you something in 10 minutes, but after that the effect is lost.
For example, aimlessly surfing on the Internet.
It brings you a little fun now, but nothing more.
Instead, it would be clever to read a few articles on our page because they can also do something to your personal development in 10 months or 10 years. 🙂
As already noted, the
It provides you with criteria to assess and weigh the consequences of a decision. You can also use them to assess tasks.
It is more suitable for rational people who have a good imagination.
High-Value Activities equal high-value tasks.
“Value” in the sense of effect, but certainly also “value” in the sense of Dollar. After all, it’s not indecent to want to make money from your business.
In order to find out which High-Value Activities are in your business, you can imagine a pyramid.
At the lowest level are tasks that neither have nor bring any additional value at all. Unfortunately, that’s the widest level.
There are endless activities that bring nothing. Time-wasters, escape activities and things like that.
Examples? Zapping while watching TV. Surfing the Internet aimlessly.
Then there are activities that have or bring a very low value.
They do not bring you much, they also generate little sales. These form the next level, which is already a little narrower.
These are also often time wasters.
Many emails are included.
Or maybe you outsourced all your tax records.
They have to be, but they do not create any or only a small value in your business.
From the next level on it will become interesting.
Here are the activities that have or bring high value, at least in the short to medium term.
This plane is, in turn, a little narrower.
For example, if I launch a marketing campaign and can increase my sales, that certainly has a high value for me and my business.
Same is true if I network with colleagues and business partners, then this has a high value for me in the short to medium term. Or if I take good breaks.
Then there is the top of the pyramid, which is very narrow.
These are the few activities that have or will bring high to very high long term value.
These are the so-called high-value activities that bring you and/or your business forward in the long term.
An example: Creating a new product or writing a book.
Both things may not bring you much value in the short term, but in the medium to long term, these things are worth gold.
With this pyramid in mind, you have a measure of what you do.
Unfortunately, experience shows us that the tasks of the lowest two levels are just like that.
Like uninvited guests.
They are suddenly there and we respond.
To get to the top two levels, we need to be proactive.
High-value activities are not just there all of a sudden, but you have to get them done.
You have to choose them, you have to actively and deliberately consider what that is in your case
The concept of High-Value Activities helps you to assess your work and tasks.
This is less a time management method than a meta-level method.
But that does not matter, because such methods can help us to see the bigger picture again and not get lost in the everyday hectic.
It’s a great way to prioritize and decide what’s really important in your business.
25,000 Dollar Method
This method goes back to a story that was said to have taken place between the entrepreneur Charles Schwab and the adviser Ivy Lee.
It belongs to the classic and simple time management methods.
Lee offered Schwab to show him how to manage his time better.
For that, he called for exactly the fee that to Schwab seemed appropriate.
To make a long story short: One tip from Lee was worth $ 25,000 to Schwab – a fortune at the time the story was supposed to have happened (at the beginning of the 20th century).
Actually, this story is more exciting than the time management method itself.
The method basically only states the following:
- Post all your tasks for the day ahead.
- Sort by priority.
- Start the next day immediately with the most important task.
- Once done, check your priorities. Maybe new tasks have been added or the order has changed.
- Then continue with the new most important task.
Repeat the process until the list is finished or after work.
Maybe you can not make the whole list, but you’ve been busy with the most important task all day long. That’s it.
Many of us are already doing this unconsciously.
This time management method is about consistently and consciously looking at what’s up and really has priority.
The Jerry Seinfeld Method
Now I have another method for you.
Strictly speaking, it is not a time management method.
However, it does not really matter, as it is still very helpful.
Jerry Seinfeld is a famous comedian in the USA. He says he writes a joke every day.
With a very simple and visual method, he ensures that he actually does.
He has a normal annual calendar hanging on the wall.
If he writes a joke, he cuts off the day.
Over time, this creates a chain of crosses.
The trick: If he does not feel like writing a joke, he looks at the chain and wonders if he really wants to break his chain of crosses now.
The longer the chain is already, the more likely he is to jump over his shadow and write a joke, even if he does not really feel like doing it.
By the way, many apps for your smartphone take up this idea, but the effect is stronger if you always see your chain on the wall in front of you.
This method works for anything we want or should do on a regular basis.
Be it doing sports, drinking enough, writing a book or emptying the inbox every day. It provides an extra boost of motivation when we do not feel like it.
The Jerry-Seinfeld method may not be a time-management method in the strict sense, but it’s still a helpful and very visual method.
The Not-To-Do List
In any time management training, it is also about the to-do list.
To decide for something means to decide against many other things.
The not-to-do list starts on the other side, namely the things and tasks that you do not want to do (anymore).
Successful and highly productive people often decide not only for the things they want, but also consciously against many things they no longer want.
They analyze what they can do, where their strengths lie and what they prefer to keep.
Practically, they always have a clear idea of where they want to go and what their goals are.
Anything that could stop them is then deliberately deleted and avoided.
This not only concerns tasks, but often also habits that distract us from the goals.
Exactly these belong on the Not-to-do list. Write down what you do not want to do anymore.
Often, these are bad habits, but an emergency to-do list can also help you identify what you want or could delegate or outsource.
The not-to-do list helps you to find clarity in your work and consciously do some things.
It works on a general level and especially against bad habits.
60-60-30 is a work rhythm that suits our natural biorhythm perfectly well.
It is the alternation of tension and relaxation, of highly focused work and rest.
The first 60 stands for 55 minutes of high-focused work and a 5-minute break.
Here you can place a high-value activity.
Think about what you want to do in the 55 minutes, turn off all interruptions and distractions, and then get started.
Take a real break after exactly 55 minutes (get up, stretch, drink a glass of water, etc.).
The second 60 again stands for highly focused work.
Again, think about what you want to do and turn off any interruptions.
The 30 then stands for a break.
As before: Think about what you could do during the break and what will give you maximum rest.
Examples: a nap, a short sports or exercise session, playing the piano
If you manage to put one or two of those 60-60-30 blocks into your day, you’ll move forward with miles.
The real challenge is to allow 30 minutes for “only” two hours.
The break is essential in this method!
A good time management method does not just take care of your to-do list.
60-60-30 is a good example of this and can help you massively increase your productivity.
60-60-30 is suitable for people who have a lot of creative freedom and can divide their time more or less freely.
If you have rather small-scale tasks or you are interrupted frequently, then the Pomodoro technique is more suitable for you.
The Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro technique attempts a similar shift between work and relaxation as the 60-60-30 rhythm.
At Pomodoro, however, the time units are shorter.
This is how it works:
- Write down all the tasks you want to do in the next block.
- Set a timer to exactly 25 minutes.
- Work focused on the task during these 25 minutes.
- When the timer rings, make a cross next to the task.
- Take exactly five minutes break.
- Take a break of 20-30 minutes after four Pomodori.
Of course, a combination of both rhythms is possible, e.g. in the morning a 60-60-30 block, in the afternoon then Pomodoro.
The Pomodoro technique is especially useful if you have rather small-scale tasks or you can not withdraw completely for a 60-60-30 block.
The Pomodoro technique also helps you set up blocks of high-focused work alternating with smart pauses.
This will keep your energy level high throughout the day.
Originally, Kanban was a method in the production process.
Meanwhile, it has been applied to many other areas where an agile approach (i.e., high flexibility and adaptability) makes sense.
Thus, the basic idea is also suitable as a simple time management method.
The simplest form uses a whiteboard divided into three columns.
The first column is titled “To do”,
the second one with “doing”
the third with “Done”
Now you just need to write all your tasks on post-its and put them in the appropriate column.
By that, you always have the perfect overview of your work.
Of course, you can also implement Personal Kanban digitally.
Personal Kanban helps you to keep the overview in the truest sense of the word. Because this is how you see all tasks sorted by status at a glance.
The One Minute To-Do List
Michael Linenberger has taken up the idea of Personal Kanban and developed it into a real-time management method.
Michael Linenberger orients himself to Personal Kanban, but names the columns differently:
1st column: Critical Now: Here are the tasks that you have to do today at any cost – even if you have to stay in the office until
2nd column: Opportunity Now: Here are the tasks that you need or want to do in the next 7-10 days. This column may contain a maximum of 20 tasks.
3rd column: Over the Horizon: All other tasks end up here.
That’s the backbone of the method.
Michael Linenberger has added a few subtleties (e.g. how often you can look through the individual columns or which other columns might still be useful depending on your needs).
With this framework, you have the perfect overview of your tasks and at the same time a simple form of
The One Minute To-Do List resembles its name.
It is explained very quickly and can be implemented without effort.
It helps you to keep track and plan your time roughly.
This gives you the necessary flexibility.
This time management method is especially suitable for people working in a dynamic, agile environment.
Getting Things Done (GTD)
No listing of known time management methods without Getting Things Done (GTD).
GTD by David Allen is one of the most sophisticated and thought-out methods available.
At the same time, it is not very easy to convey, because you actually have to know the whole system in order to understand the individual steps.
GTD is a five-step method that is strictly separated from each other:
- Capture: This is about getting everything due out of the head and grasping it.
- Working through: In a separate step, you then work off the collected unfinished things according to a well-defined process. Working through does not necessarily mean doing it, but rather sorting it in the right place.
- Organize: All unfinished things are then nicely organized into task lists with various categories. Here, GTD speaks of contexts, i.e. in what context do I have to be in order to complete a task? Tasks lists are not tasks in the traditional sense, but the next necessary action step (not “fill out tax return”, but “collect documents”, “download tax form”, etc.).
- Review and care: If you build a system as extensive as GTD, it needs a regular review, so that the system runs beautifully clean. This is ensured by the weekly review.
- Get Things Done: GTD does not plan, but spontaneously decides what you should take care of now. There are four criteria for this, with which you get exactly the optimal task for now in the exclusion process. The criteria are (in that very order): Context, available time, available energy, importance.
GTD is an elaborate, highly structured time management method, but it can guarantee that you will not forget anything if you stick to the five steps and the processes.
If you are a very logical and structured person (a “left-brain”), then it may be worth your while to take a closer look at GTD.
The Eisenhower Matrix
Here comes the next classic time management method: The Eisenhower matrix differentiates between “urgent-not urgent” and “important-not important”.
All tasks can be arranged in one of the four fields, which arise when you record this in a table.
- If a task is neither important nor urgent, it should be left out.
- If a task is not important but urgent, it should be eliminated, automated or delegated.
- If a task is important, but not urgent, then it must be planned, so that it does not get lost in the everyday noise.
- If a task is important and urgent, it must be done as soon as possible.
Of course, these four fields are related.
If you take care of important tasks at an early stage that is not urgent, they will not become firefighting exercises, so they will not be important and urgent tasks.
If you waste your time with unimportant tasks, you will not have enough time for really important tasks.
The Eisenhower matrix works well to identify which tasks you should definitely plan. It also helps keep you pausing and questioning how you work.
It is more of an abstract time management method that you can keep in mind to question yourself and your work over and over again.
Final Thought: Why Time Management Is Important – 11 Extremely Useful Techniques
This was a brief overview of many well-known time management methods.
Among these ideas you will hopefully find some inspiration for your personal time management.
Just as there is not the best tool for everyone, there is not one ultimate time management method.
In this article, you have come to know many possibilities.
Just go through all the time management methods.
Check what appeals to you and what works for you in the end.
This is an investment that pays off in the bottom line.
All of these time management methods have one thing in common: they let you think outside the box.
Because many of the methods presented are not detailed time management methods, but allow a view of the larger questions or may leave you questioning a lot.
So what’s the right time management method for you?
Let me know more details about your experiences with different time management methods that you have used so far!