Knowing how to manage time is key to maximizing productivity in projects. Luckily, there are various time management methods that you can apply in your day-to-day. In this article, we will show you four tried and tested methods, so that you can handle your pending tasks with ease and efficiency.
1. The Pomodoro Method: improve time management and reduce anxiety
The Pomodoro Method is a time management technique that helps eliminate anxiety and increase productivity. Based on neuroscience research, anxiety has been shown to negatively affect performance and efficiency. When you’re faced with long tasks or a busy day, anxiety can be a huge obstacle to good performance.
Francesco Cirillo created the Pomodoro Method in 1980 as a solution to this problem. The technique consists of working for 25 minutes focused on a task, followed by a short break of 3 to 5 minutes. After four 25-minute cycles, there should be another break of at least 15 minutes. This process is repeated until all the tasks in the list are completed.
The idea behind this technique is that the breaks help reduce anxiety and increase concentration. The brain is capable of maintaining its focus for about 25 minutes before attention wanders, so working in cycles of this length helps maintain focus and efficiency.
Before implementing the Pomodoro Method, it is important to list your tasks in priority order of urgency, starting with the task with the closest deadline.
2. Eisenhower Matrix: classify tasks to know how to prioritize
The Eisenhower Matrix, developed by Dwight Eisenhower, former US Army General and President of the United States, is based on the classification of tasks into four categories:
- Urgent and Important: Includes those tasks that require immediate attention.
- Important, but not urgent: These are tasks that can be scheduled for the future.
- Urgent but not important: Tasks that can be delegated to someone else.
- Neither urgent nor important: Tasks that can be discarded or deleted.
Eisenhower argued that “what is important is hardly ever urgent, and what is urgent is hardly ever important.” For example, in a situation where delivering a presentation on time is considered urgent and responding to an email from your boss is important, the latter task can be postponed because it does not require immediacy.
By being able to clearly and visually see the levels of importance and urgency of each task, this system makes it possible to identify which require action and which can be eliminated, helping to better manage time and be more productive.
3. The Kanban Method: visualize the phases of each task to do more and do it better
The Kanban Method is a tool widely used in large companies to manage each stage of a project and therefore save time. It focuses on putting smaller segments of the task into charts that define their status. Control can be done manually, using tables and post-its, or through management software such as Evernote or Wunderlist.
Following the ‘Just In Time’ (JIT) technique, which aims to optimise the demand control system to increase production efficiency and gain more task resolution capacity, the Japanese car manufacturer Toyota created the Kanban Method based on the idea that an action only begins when another necessarily linked to it ends, thus creating a chain reaction.
To use this method, the following steps must be followed:
- Create an online or physical table with at least three divisions: “To do”, “in progress” and “finished”. Depending on the dynamics of the project, you can have other categories such as “under review” or “for adjustment”.
- Write the task down on virtual cards or post-it notes as well as a brief description of the activity. It is also important to establish the timeframe and the people involved.
- Organize the tasks based on the phase they are in.
In some software, it is possible to generate dashboards for different teams, invite members to register on the platform, and assign tasks with designated deadlines and responsibilities. Some companies prefer to have the dashboard visible to all employees and consider updating it as an opportunity to encourage interaction, although it is generally more efficient to have this system online than in a physical format. The important thing is to choose the option that works best in the context. If the Kanban Method is used properly, tasks can be categorized more effectively, saving time and improving team efficiency.
4. The GTD Method: how to reduce accumulated tasks
We have all experienced the feeling that our to-do list never ends. It seems that when we finally complete one task, another appears on the horizon. The American consultant David Allen created the GTD methodology, Getting Things Done, so as not to accumulate tasks that can be solved in the instant. His techniques are applicable both domestically and professionally.
So how to apply GTD? Here are some tips:
- Write down all your tasks on a piece of paper or an organization program, like Trello or Google Notes.
- Categorize your activities by completion time and start with those that require less than two minutes, such as sending an email or file.
- Establish when and how you will carry out each pending task and begin to carry them out as planned.
- If you receive a new request, be sure to put it on your to-do list. When you get a pending task that requires less than 2 minutes, it is better to complete it immediately.
- Measure the time you take doing each task in order to optimize your daily planning.
David Allen maintains that taking this approach to time management reduces the feeling of burden on your shoulders and decreases the amount of pending tasks that build up. Implementing this method allows you to reduce stress and increase clarity and control in tasks, generating a positive impact on self-esteem and quality of life. In addition, greater productivity and performance is achieved.