Time management has to be one of the most sought after and important skills one can master. We’ve spoken about time management many times before so we thought a look at some of the best and most effective time management techniques out there would help some people along the way. The following are practical systems that one can follow. There is a lot of literature and other resources about these if you want to know them better which I recommend.

The Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro technique is so named after the Italian word for tomato because the inventor Francesco Cirillo used a tomato-shaped clock for this. The idea is simple, using a timer working in blocks of 20 to 45 minutes non-stop and then taking breaks in between. It is recommended to take 3 short breaks then the fourth interval results in a longer break. The Pomodoro technique is really useful for similar tasks or studying. It harnesses the power of concentration. You need to find your rhythm in terms of the length of the period. Cirillo originally used 20 minute periods.

Quadrant 2 Management

Quadrant 2 management is the brainchild of Dwight Eisenhower and  and is covered extensively in the 7 habits of highly effective people. As the diagram above shows there four types of tasks. While the diagram below indicates what to do with each type of task. It’s a bit much to understand off the bat but it can be summed up in 2 rules. Firstly things do up and down the matrix, that is to say, things that are not important will never become so and vice versa. Secondly things move from the being non-urgent to urgent with the passage of time. The gist of quadrant 2 management is that if you take care of important things before they become urgent and stay away from things that are not important you will be effective.

Time Blocking

Is similar to the Pomodoro technique but varies in approach. In time blocking you create standard measures of time, anything from 15 minutes to an hour and you schedule your tasks in 15-minute intervals. Extremely useful in helping you get on with the work and pack as much work into the time it used by among many others Elon Musk. Scheduling this way forces tasks to fit into the designated time period. This technique is much more useful where tasks are usually similar though one can allocate more than one block for a task where necessary.

Pareto Principle

We know the Pareto principle;80% of your results will come from 20% of your work. Applying the Pareto principle to a list that organises tasks in order of their impact to the larger goal. Items with the biggest impact top the list and these are tackled first. This is similar to the “Eat the frog” methodology but applied to a list. The genius of this method is it allows you to tackle the most important parts with fresh energy. This is my preferred method of working for physical tasks because it allows me to tackle the biggest tasks with fresh mind and muscles while the later tasks can be done on residual energy.

Deep work

The principal of deep work should not at all be new. The idea is that there are certain types of work that benefit from deep concentration and uses a system of cutting off from the world to focus on these tasks. Let’s face it, we live in a time when it is easier than ever to get a hold of other people or be distracted by the increasing stimuli. Certain tasks need deep long periods of concentration to be done effectively. These are tasks such as reading, writing, researching, computation, programming and many more. Some of the more successful people I know in real life are deep workers, using the early hours of the morning when nobody is awake to disturb you to carry out their work and it shows in their results.

The systems, while independent can actually work very well together. For example, you can.use Quadrant 2 to decide on the tasks, the Pareto principle to organise them, deep work early in the morning and the Pomodoro technique and time blocking during the day. Or find your own combination that serves you.