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First Time Manager Tips: 5 Top Time Management Techniques

The story was originally published on Vectorly’s blog.

What makes a good engineering manager or a tech lead? First of all, you should know what skill should a good engineering manager have.

You can find THE FULL LIST of 8 top Engineering Management skills in 2022 in Vectorly’s article or download free skill matrix.

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Get the FULL engineering manager skill matrix for FREE on your email.

Secondly, one should understand that among the most important skills of a great Engineering Manager is personal skills which include the ability to learn, systematic thinking, strategic vision, decision-making, and of course time management.

In this article, you’ll find 5 top time management skills to help first time managers to organize their work and the work of a tech team effectively, as well as advice from experienced tech leads on how they plan their time.

Time management techniques for managers

The biggest challenges for a software engineering manager aren’t technical, but personal.

When taking a position as a manager, one should cover lots of business processes. And this can be very challenging for those who have difficulties planning their time. That’s why first-time managers should improve their time management skills - set correct goals, both personal and the team’s, prioritize and eliminate time wasters.

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To help managers, we have gathered the most popular and effective time management techniques.

1. Pareto’s Principle
The so-called 80/20 rule is a time management method that helps to prioritize the tasks that are most effective for solving problems. It’s the idea that 20% of actions are responsible for 80% of outcomes.

For this, the following steps are suggested:

  • List the problems you are facing. For example, performance metrics are declining.
  • Determine the root cause of each problem. Perhaps your metrics are deteriorating due to the fact that you have incorrectly allocated time and human resources on a project, or something else.
  • Assign a score to each problem. Give the most important problems higher scores.
  • Group problems by cause. Problems caused by you making mistakes in resource allocation should be in the same group. for example.
  • Add up the scores for each group. The group with the highest score is the problem you should work on first.
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2. The Eisenhower Matrix

This method is based on an urgent-important matrix. According to this method, you need to sort the list of tasks by:

  • important
  • unimportant
  • urgent
  • not urgent

Ideally, you should only work on important and urgent tasks. Delegate the rest of the tasks or even reconsider the need for their implementation.

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3. The Pomodoro Technique
This technique uses a timer to break down your work into intervals — Pomodoros. How it works:

  • Formulate a task.
  • Set a timer, for example, 25 minutes.
  • Concentrate on the task at hand.
  • When the timer rings, check the box.
  • Take a short break from work.
  • Repeat steps two through five: After you've completed this process four times, you can start taking longer breaks (20-30 minutes).

This method will help you concentrate and, at the same time, not feel overwhelmed.

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4. Getting Things Done (GTD) Method
Helps you complete tasks by recording them and then breaking them down into workflows. It works like this:

  • Capture the actions that have your attention.
  • See if there are tasks among them that require action. If an item requires action, perform or delegate it.
  • Prioritize your to-do list.
  • Cross off the tasks you completed.
  • Complete tasks that you can solve right now.

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5. Eat That Frog Technique
Start the day with the most difficult task (the “frog”), gradually moving towards the easier ones:

  • Clearly define the goal.
  • Fix it.
  • Set a deadline.
  • Make a list of what you need to do to reach your goal.
  • Prioritize the tasks on this list. The first ones on the list are your "frogs".
  • Eat the nastiest frog first, so it will be easier to approach each new task that is left behind.
  • Repeat this process every day.

The story was originally published on Vectorly’s blog.

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