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Time Management Techniques To Increase Performance

Time management is a skill some of us develop naturally whilst others will need a little extra help with being able to effectively manage their time, it is defined as the process of planning and exercising conscious control of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency, and productivity. This makes it a crucial skill for the workplace, especially with more roles being able to offer at-home work or flexible schedules, as well as many people becoming self-employed. These roles require top time management skills in order to be trusted with being the boss of your own schedule. Sometimes time management is easier or harder on certain days due to factors such as procrastination, so here we have a list of different time management techniques that may work for you and aid in increasing performance and organisational skills. The Pomodoro Technique This technique was created by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s and is now used by millions of people. It is known as a highly effective technique that aids in time management and self-discipline as well as concentration. The goal of the Pomodoro technique is to encourage you to work in urgency with the time you have rather than against it, it helps you realise that there are deadlines by having you work in 25-minute intervals with a 5-minute break after, these intervals are referred to as the pomodoros. After 4 repeated pomodoros you are recommended to increase your break time up to 15-20 minutes depending on your preference. These forced but short breaks are effective for those who both forget to take breaks or end up indulging in taking far longer breaks than they should. Why does this technique work? Studies into procrastination show that it isn’t laziness or lack of skill that causes us to put off daunting tasks, it is the negative feelings that come with it, further studies then show that breaking down the task into smaller sections in small time frames helps us see the task as more doable and less negative, the Pomodoro encourages us to do exactly this, assigning one task to each Pomodoro is the key to benefitting from this technique. Pareto Analysis Also known as the 80/20 rule is a technique created by the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto although it was Joseph Juran, a Romanian-American business theorist, that discovered Pareto's research in 1937, around 40 years after it was published. Joseph Juran also renamed the 80/20 technique "Pareto's Principle of Unequal Distribution." The Pareto Analysis aims to help you prioritise the tasks that will provide the best solutions to current problems you are facing, based on the idea that by doing 20% of the work, you can generate 80% of the benefit of doing the entire job. Plotting the 80/20 technique is best done using a diagram, and ProjectSmart provides a simple 8 step guide on how to create it with an example of how it should look; 1. Create a vertical bar chart with causes on the x-axis and count (number of occurrences) on the y-axis.

2. Arrange the bar chart in descending order of cause importance, the cause with the highest count first.

3. Calculate the cumulative count for each cause in descending order.

4. Calculate the cumulative count percentage for each cause in descending order. Percentage calculation: {Individual Cause Count} / {Total Causes Count}*100

5. Create a second y-axis with percentages descending in increments of 10 from 100% to 0%.

6. Plot the cumulative count percentage of each cause on the x-axis.

7. Join the points to form a curve.

8. Draw a line at 80% on the y-axis, running parallel to the x-axis. Then drop the line at the point of intersection with the curve on the x-axis. This point on the x-axis separates the important causes on the left (vital few) from the less important causes on the right (trivial many).

This technique helps us figure out the first 20% of tasks that matter first, the other 80% shouldn’t be ignored but can be pushed back as a later task rather than the 20% that should be improved upon sooner. Problem solvers and analytical thinkers benefit greatly from this technique with the use of percentages and a structured diagram on the problems that need to be solved first, it sets out a good starting point where you can then proceed to find effective solutions.

Parkinson’s Law

“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” said by historian Cyril Northcote Parkinson who went on to create Parkinson’s Law in his book The Pursuit Of Progress. This law is less of a technique but more of an understanding that can be applied as one of the most beneficial time management methods used by employees, executives and great leaders.

The law is simple to understand, with more time there is less effort needed, with less time, more effort is required. By assigning the correct amount of time to a task we gain back hours of our valuable time and the task will reduce in complexity. Procrastination is proof that we are able to complete these tasks in shorter amounts of time, for example, many students are known to leave assignments to the last few hours and manage to complete them even when they may have been given weeks to complete them. We often have an inflated idea of how long a task will or should take, as it can be pressuring to put small time restraints on ourselves, which is why it is important to be implementing the correct amount of time a task will need, not too much nor too little. To implement this law into your work and create a schedule using it, it is recommended that you list all of your tasks and then roughly note down how long each task should take, you can do this by day or by week. Time limits are crucial to this technique, so if you are someone who tends to give more time than needed to yourself, you will then want to half the amount of time you have given yourself for each task (be sure that these times stay realistic) for example if you have until the end of the week to complete a task, set yourself a deadline during the middle of the week to get it done. It may be easier to begin applying this law to smaller tasks and work your way up to applying it to larger ones, an example of this would be allowing yourself 20 minutes to reply to emails in the morning. A simple way of shortening the length of a task can be to work without a laptop charger, then you will have a visual of your time running out as the battery gets lower and you will be encouraged to complete the task before it eventually runs out.

888 Formula

Created Abigail Barnes, founder of Success By Design Training created the 888 formula as an optimum way to break down a 24 hour day based on both science and society. She is also the writer of Time Management For Entrepreneurs & Professionals which includes a multitude of time management tips and step-by-step processes for turning time into productivity. The 888 formula focuses on creating an overall healthy work-life balance by sectioning your 24 hour day into 3 parts, it is a baseline and not a “must follow” process, it can be adapted to suit your routine which makes it ideal for everyone.

The first pillar is rest, this focus is based on the average sleep cycle taking 90 minutes each and roughly every individual will go through 4-6 sleep cycles a night. By allowing ourselves 8 hours of sleep a night we can go through roughly 5 sleep cycles which is a healthy amount of sleep for the average person. Studies show that a good night's sleep can help greatly with our daily concentration, making getting through work tasks far easier. The second pillar of the 888 formula is activities which Abigail Barnes refers to as “the jam in the 888 sandwich”. These activities are a range of daily occurrences that aren't resting or working. So these activities will include things such as household chores, hobbies, cooking, eating, personal routines, social time, etc. This personal time needs 8 hours as it consists of so many factors as well as hobbies being a key factor in looking after our mental and physical wellbeing, you should not be sacrificing activities to cram in more work, but time for your activities should be used wisely as discussed in Abigail’s time management book “if you spend two hours a day scrolling through social media that equates to 43,800 hours which is over 30 days a year”. The last pillar of this formula is work, traditionally many people have worked 5 days a week doing 8 hour days, although times are quickly changing as society calls for a better quality of life and more flexible roles are being produced, this formula is easily adaptable to lessen the work sector and increase the rest or activity pillars, the main goal is the time management and to rid the amount of time we are unknowingly wasting every day. Abigail Barnes also tells us that "Recording and reviewing is the best way to learn and change habits" different techniques will work depending on what you are trying to achieve.


The Modern Mind Group are emotioneering human performance not engineering it.

As people operations and performance consultants, we work with your business to identify and improve performance gaps so that you can be more profitable and professionally develop your people. Over 12 years of expertise in people operations and performance with results to back it all up. Why settle for the average when there is a world of possibility when you know how to achieve it? Untapped potential - Let's go get it!


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