Those words strike fear into the hearts of many people. And it makes sense. In our modern day and age, with so many productivity tools, strategies, blogs, and dogmas, it seems impossible to even start with a system that will work for you.
For those who are looking to take their time management to the next level, there’s some good news and bad news.
The good news? Through experimenting you are guaranteed to find the system that’s perfect for you.
The bad news? There is no “correct” system. What works for some people may feel absolutely terrible and high-friction for you. And coming up with the right methods will take a painful adjustment period and slow, incremental improvements that often feel like “no progress.”
So I’m not here to lecture you on the value of certain types of time management, but I will explain my personal system, and hopefully, you may glean some ideas from that.
1. Vigilant Calendar Use
My Google calendar is connected to, quite literally, everything I do. My school management system, Canvas, goes through my Google calendar. I’ve set up several automation systems to move email dates into my calendar once scheduled. And as an iPhone owner, I also integrate iCal with Google Calendar. It’s a powerful way for me to make sure that I know when important events are coming up. And if you’re interested in time blocking, then having a great calendar system is crucial.
I’ll be publishing a post on checklists soon, but for now, I’ll talk about my current favorite checklist app: Wunderlist. I use Wunderlist to turn all my projects in actionable tasks. Each one is given a date, and all I have to do is refer to the “Today” tab to see what I have to do. It’s that simple. I stick with my checklist and never add more than I can handle. If I finish early, I’m done for that day.
The quickest way to burnout is overloading your checklist. Under-schedule just incase; you’ll thank me.
Yeah, I know it’s a popular technique, but I’ll mention it anyway. For the uninitiated, the Pomodoro Technique involves splitting your work into manageable chunks of time with scheduled breaks in between. The most popular versions are:
- 25-minute work, 5-minute break
- 50-minute work, 10-minute break
- 90-minute work, 30-minute break
I personally enjoy time-split #1 the best because it’s the easiest to get started with and makes most assignments seem less daunting. When your looking to get some deep work done, I would recommend time-split #3.
And those are my three main techniques. I like to keep my strategies simple as to limit friction.
The best time management systems aren’t the most advanced ones; they’re the ones that are easiest to follow.