Effective Time Management Puts You Back on Track
Humans have a conflicting relationship with time.
Sometimes we can’t get enough of it; at others, we seem to be suffocating in it. In a letter penned to his friend’s grieving wife, Albert Einstein suggested the distinction between the past, present, and future is “nothing more than a stubbornly persistent illusion.”
The Pomodoro Technique
When you think about it, someone with a background in software development just might have some insight into time management. Not only do computer programs need to be efficient but so do programmers. That might partially explain why Francesco Cirillo’s Pomodoro Technique has been so successful.
Cirillo’s method involves using a timer to create 25-minute work intervals, with quick breaks in between. The approach to those work sessions is broken down into six steps:
- Identify the task that needs to be accomplished.
- Set the timer (25 minutes is standard).
- When the timer goes off, stop working and then tally a check mark to keep track of how many sessions have lapsed.
- For the first four sessions only take a 3- to 5-minute break, then start over on step 2.
- At five sessions, enjoy a longer break of 15-30 minutes; after that, go back to step 2.
The point is to promote focus and mitigate distractions. If a session is interrupted, your tallies are wiped clean.
Three decades – and millions of devotees to the process – suggest Cirillo was onto something. However, there’s more you can do to set yourself up for time management success.
How to make time your tool, not your master
The passage of time is one of those things we simply don’t have control over. That leaves us with focusing on where we do have power: what we do with our time. We offer these four tips for making the most of your day.
- Be introspective. When you sit down for a task, do you let yourself become distracted by social, news, or entertainment media? How much time do you spend answering emails? Could your routine be more efficient? Look at your schedule like a depleted bank account– you’ve only got 24 hours if you stop sleeping and eating.
- Stay organized. Store tools, files, etc. in their proper place – and return them there, so you don’t waste time looking the next time you need them. Keep your workspace tidy, and an eye on your schedule. The more in-place your life is, the more fluidly you’ll be able to tackle your daily agenda.
- Keep an eye on the horizon. At the end of the day, plan for what needs to happen first thing the next morning. Similarly, as you start to wrap up a project, think about what needs to happen next. Also, put your commute time to work for you – visualize how you’re going to accomplish a task before you start it to get a head start on problem-solving.
- Understand what’s important. Sometimes the push to complete a project supersedes its function – or inaccurately prioritizes it over something that should have been accomplished first. Take the time to analyze your to-do list with the bigger picture in mind.
It’s not all about you
You can be a time management super-wizard, but if your team is not all on the same page and running smoothly, you’re going to waste a lot of time. Teams need to work together or more than just time will be wasted. To learn about the anatomy of a productive team, we encourage you to look into our team development programs, “The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive TeamTM” or Productive Conflict using Everything DiSC.
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