You can use many different techniques to manage your time better, but these are some of the most effective and easy to follow. You can apply these simple rules to many aspects of your busy lifestyle, from work and study to household chores and even social and family commitments.
The prioritisation system
Sometimes it’s overwhelming when you have a seemingly endless to-do list and don’t know where to begin – it can even put you off starting anything! One productivity technique that can be used to overcome this problem is writing a to-do list to help you order and prioritise your most urgent tasks and, conversely, those that can wait. But how do you decide? Try ranking your tasks by high, medium and low importance. Then rank them by high, medium and low urgency. Do the important and urgent tasks first, and so on.
The 80/20 system
Another great system for prioritising is the 80/20 rule which suggests that 80% of your results come from 20% of your actions. This means that you should focus most of your efforts on tasks that achieve your most important goals.
The 4D System
The four Ds are a great way of categorising a long list of tasks. Apply them to your to-do list and be amazed at how quickly it starts to disappear.
- Do it now – avoid stress and anxiety about your most important tasks by doing them immediately.
- Defer – if there are tasks that can be done later, are less urgent, or require more concentration, schedule time to do them when you’re less busy.
- Delegate – is the task something that needs to be done by you? Or is there someone else who can help who may be better for the job? Or both? Then don’t be afraid to delegate so you can focus on more important things.
- Delete – Would the sky fall down if you don’t do that task? Would anyone even notice if it got missed? Then maybe it shouldn’t be on your to-do list in the first place!
The Eat the Frog System
No, not a diet tip! “Eating the frog” is a metaphor popularised by Brian Tracy’s book “Eat That Frog!” The idea is that if you have to do something challenging or unpleasant, it’s best to tackle it first thing in the morning or prioritize it over other tasks. The “frog” represents the most difficult or important task on your to-do list, the one you may be tempted to procrastinate on or avoid altogether. By eating the frog, you confront and complete that task early in the day, which helps to boost productivity, reduce stress, and prevent it from lingering over you. It’s a strategy to encourage proactive action and overcome procrastination by dealing with the most challenging tasks head-on. With the frog out of the way, you’ll have a sense of achievement and relief that spurs you on through the rest of your tasks.
The No System
By far the simplest technique, this calls for saying ‘no’ to tasks and requests that you just don’t have time for. This can, for some people, also be the most difficult technique, especially if you don’t like saying no to people or letting people down. However, for the sake of your own stress levels, it may be a good idea to learn to say no to things on other people’s high-priority lists that aren’t on yours. If you do need to say yes, negotiate a deadline that doesn’t get in the way of your own goals.