Time Management Made Simple

Time Management

Last week the Wall Street Journal test-drove three time-management systems:

  • Getting Things Done
  • The Pomodoro Technique
  • Franklin Covey’s Focus.

The article concluded, unsurprisingly, that each technique had benefits and drawbacks.

More interesting though, was author Sue Shellenbarger’s insights from focusing on time-management techniques.

She found:

  1. An overlong to-do list was a set-up for failure
  2. To get more important stuff done, she did less of everything else
  3. Gaining control of her time through the day required a significant up-front investment of time and brainpower.

A Simple Approach to Time-Management

Sue’s insights are arguably more useful that any of the expensive time-management systems around. Just learning those systems alone can be time-costly and distracting.

Instead, you could try a simpler time-management approach based on Sue’s lessons:

  1. Each day, spend time identifying your top priorities and scheduling them into your day
  2. Each day, choose only your 3 to 5 most important items to put on your to-do list
  3. Release the notion that you can do everything, but relish the goal of doing the things that matter.

My Time-Management Process

As I mentioned in a comment on that article, for me the best ‘system’ is a combination of:

  • Making lists – I do this to download stuff from my brain, remove distracting thoughts, and feel organized
  • Following my natural motivation – doing what I feel drawn to, and excited to work on, but
  • Resisting the urge to do the easy, unnecessary and trivial – like email checking, busywork, etc.

I also use a productivity ritual for serious work.

Your Say

When it comes to managing your time, what works or doesn’t work for you? Please share in the comments.

[Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/butlercorey/ / CC BY 2.0]

5 thoughts on “Time Management Made Simple

  1. Mary Segers says:

    I have personally suffered immensely from the infamous overlong to-do list. There is nothing else quite like it to really put a damper on the otherwise very motivated person who awoke a short time previously.

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