If there’s one thing that uni students, entrepreneurs, office workers, freelancers and busy mums have in common, it’s this — we’d all like to get more done. It’s not necessarily that we’d like to add more tasks to our already busy schedules (unless it’s fun stuff like having a bath or doing an awesome online course.) It’s more that we just need more hours in the week to get through our current to-do list!
Now, unfortunately we can’t change the construct of time — although an extra day between Saturday and Sunday would be nice! However, what we can change is how we use that time. Don’t worry, we’re not going to hit you with the ‘you have as many hours in the day as Beyonce’ cliche. Instead, we’ve rounded up the most effective time-hacking techniques to help you get the most out of your days.
Whether you’re a chronic multitasker or distraction is your downfall, there’s a technique for everyone. Scroll through the gallery for the 5 time management methods the productivity pros swear by.
1. Bullet journalling
If you’re someone who prefers to keep track of your life on paper than use the calendar on your phone, you’ll love bullet journaling. Using a system called rapid logging, you start a new ‘topic’ on the top of each page of your notebook — as well as a page number. Your topic could be the day, week, month or what you need to pack for a trip. You fill your pages with bullet points: a small dot for tasks, O for events and dash for notes. It sounds a bit complicated, but it’s weirdly addictive once you get used to it. You can learn more about bullet journaling here.
2. The Pomodoro technique
If getting distracted is your biggest downfall, you may want to give monotasking a go. It’s the opposite of multitasking and it involves, you guessed it, doing just one thing at a time. One popular monotasking method is the Pomodoro technique. Basically, it’s the productivity version of HIIT. Using a timer, you do 15-25 work ‘sprints’, where you focus solely on one task with zero distractions. Then, you break up your sprints with timed 5 minute breaks. The delayed gratification of checking your texts or Instagram feed is extremely powerful in helping you get more done. There are plenty of great Pomodoro timers on the web, but I personally use Pomodone.
3. The anti to-do list
Sometimes, overflowing to-do lists can just overwhelm you and you end up crashing on the couch instead! This is where the Ivy Lee Method, or ‘the anti-do list’ comes in. The simple 5-step method is over 100 years old, but many productivity experts still swear by it. This is how it works:
- At the end of each work day, write down the six most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow. Do not write down more than six tasks.
- Review your tasks and prioritise the six items in order of their true importance.
- When you start working the next day, concentrate only on the first task. Work until the first task is finished before moving on to the second task.
- Approach the rest of your list in the same manner. At the end of the day, move any uncompleted items to a new list of six tasks for the following day.
- Repeat this process every working day.
So simple, yet so effective! It’s all about prioritising what’s really important. You can find out more about the anti to-do list here.
Ever looked at those people who have a million different things going on in their lives and wonder how on earth they get it all done? Chances are, timeblocking is their secret weapon. As the name suggests, it simply involves blocking out time slots on a calendar when you plan to work on certain tasks done (as well as events, appointments and scheduled breaks.) It’s a fantastic way to make sure you’re making good use of your time. The key is to be realistic and overestimate how long it’ll take you to complete a task, to ensure you’re not trying to fit too much into your day.
5. The Eisenhower Matrix
Here’s one for the visual people out there! Created by Dwight Eisenhower, the 34th president of the United States (and an extremely busy man!), The Eisenhower Matrix is also known as the Urgent-Important Matrix. You draw up a box with four quadrants — urgent and important (do it now), important but not urgent (decide when you’re going to do it), urgent but not important (delegate it to someone else) and not urgent and not important (delete it.) It’s a great one for when you’ve got so much to do that you don’t even know where to start! You can find out more about it here.