We've all heard of the Pomodoro Technique. There are countless of apps, chrome extensions, and studies on it. There was a time when every school teacher was telling their students to use this method for time-management because it was "the best way to stay proactive and make sure you get your work done". Wrong! It's the best way to get things done IF and only if it's the right method for YOU.
Just like anything else in life, you have to try multiple methods to see what is right for you and what is not. You cannot go through life blindly listening to what everyone else is doing or what everyone else thinks is best just because it's the way the crowd is walking. What if what is best for you is the road less taken? Time-management is the same way. There are so many other methods and techniques out there that students and professionals are as easily exposed to because one or a few are the "most popular". Want to find out what could be right for you? Don't take my word for it. For the matter of fact, don't take this quiz too seriously either. Give some a shot and see what words best for you.
Take a review at what you did yesterday. Did it look something like....breakfast, check email, texts, phone calls, social media, texts, meeting, emails, phone calls, meetings, emails, break, emails, etc. It was a lot of little chunks of tasks spread out throughout the day, wasn't it? Jumping from task to task as emails came in, getting things done between meetings and meals or whenever you had the time to squeeze in the last few sentences of that proposal you had to write for your boss. Sound familiar?
Time blocking takes all of that and organizes it into their separate categorizes. Emailing happens all at once. You chunk up 2 hours or however long you need specifically for that client proposal and don't let anything else distract you. You try your best to line up all your meetings (but we all know that rarely happens since we usually aren't the ones in control of meeting times, unless we are really lucky). Time blocking turns your schedule into this:
How? You have to schedule your days ahead of time. Set time on a Sunday or the Saturday to schedule your week. Things don't get done on a certain day? Leave room to shift things around onto the next day. This is where having a digital calendar such as google calendar comes in handy. But not everyone has a schedule that let's us do something like this so it might not be for everyone. On to something else...
With this matrix, you are able to leave scheduling your days to the day of. You portion your tasks into four categories: urgent/important, urgent/not important, not urgent/important, and not urgent/not important. It's a 2-by-2 matrix.
Whatever falls under urgent and important, you do by yourself. If it ends up being important by not urgent, you can schedule it for another time. If it's urgent but not very important, find someone to delegate it to. (Again, some of us don't have the luxury to do this so it might just end up getting scheduled to get done after the urgent and important tasks). If the tasks fall under not urgent and not important, toss it to the side or simply put it onto a pile of "optional" tasks that you can pick up when you're more available. Call it a "side project" type task if you can, depending on what it is. It's your call.
The Weekly Review and Medium Method
It is said that every person should do try these two methods to increase productivity. The idea with the medium method is not to go complete paperless. Even though the digital world offers so much that the physical cannot, there is still much to gain from using physical paper. For example, by using physical paper it cuts down on distractions, decreases your eye strain from blue light, reinforces literacy development and comprehension through handwriting, and leads to increased memory. There are many studies to back why we should be writing our notes by hand and why it's constantly being encouraged in schools and universities.
Regarding the weekly review, it forces you to take a step back and take an overall look at what you've been doing and accomplishing. It's easy to go through the motions week in and week out. A weekly review makes you pause and reflect:
What did I get done this week versus what I planned to get done?
What unexpectedly arose this week that blocked my productivity?
Why was I so efficient this week as compared to the last one?
Planning your week with priority tasks also lets you get a bigger picture of what you want to get done. Instead of scheduling every little thing, you set out a goal to accomplish at least a few bigger tasks and go from there.
There are a lot of other techniques and methods to manage time. For example, the commitment inventory, objectives & key results, eat the frog, getting things done, kanban, and systemist. Todoist has a wonderful list and explanation of each of them. They also have a quiz you can take for them to recommend one for you based on your unique strengths, challenges, and goals. But my recommendation is to do your own research, try one for at least 6 weeks and see how you like it.
If you find one you enjoy and find to be helpful, or the exact opposite, I'd love to hear about your experiences.