It's the same for all of us; even if we get our to-do lists ready at the beginning of the day and start the day with high motivation, it happens again and again that we only put a few checkmarks at the end of the list. And those are usually the ones that were added spontaneously.
Especially now, when the home office takes on a new meaning, it can't hurt to optimize your work style and personal time management.
But to make sure that this doesn't become a new to-do, we have picked out a few methods for you.
1. Pareto Principle
We have all probably heard this term before. But what was it again? Exactly - the 80/20 method. And as a time management tool, it is in great demand and makes a lot of sense at a closer look. Because most of the time we can achieve 80% of the work with 20% of the total effort. The remaining 20% would eat up most of the time with 80% but would produce less output in comparison. Too often, it is our perfectionism that eats most of our time.
Of course, the Pareto principle is not suitable for every work (e.g., medicine!), but on the other hand, it forces us to self-reflection and task evaluation. Just give it a try. And if you still have time at the end of the day, just go for the last 20% ;-)
2. ALPEN Method
These five letters have what it takes. The ALPEN method is a planning tool that helps you to plan the following day.
A - Activities: write down all the to-dos you can think of.
L - Length: note down the expected time for each task.
P - Planning buffer time: To avoid time pressure, plan some additional time. Take an additional 40% buffer time of the approximated time.
E - Establishing prioritized decisions: Decide right away which task you want to start with. Preferably the one that is most important, most urgent, or most difficult to accomplish.
N - noting down levels of success: Can tasks be combined? Have I taken on too much? Can certain tasks be completed later? Check if your schedule is realistic.
3. Pomodoro Technique
What does a tomato have to do with time management? Little to nothing. But it was developed with an egg timer that looked like a tomato. It works like this:
Write down all your to-dos in advance, make sure you have everything you need to work and eliminate all disruptive factors (smartphone, email pop-ups, etc.).
Set your alarm clock for 25 minutes to work and take a 5-minute break afterward.
Do this 4 times in total and then take a longer break of 20-30 minutes.
4. Eisenhower Matrix
This method helps you to prioritize your tasks by sorting them by urgency and importance. A to-do is considered urgent if you need to react as soon as possible or have a deadline (important emails, phone calls, presentations, etc.). It is important if it helps you personally in your life and helps you to reach future goals.
Continue with the four categories as follows:
- urgent and important: get it done first
- not urgent, but important: schedule next
- urgent, but not important: delegate
- not important and not urgent: these tasks can easily be eliminated for the moment.
5. Grasp The Nettle
This one might sound familiar :) As we already mentioned in our last blog post (How not to procrastinate), it is always recommended to do the biggest to-do or the task we would most likely put off right at the beginning of the day. Anything else is just a cinch in comparison.
...there are, of course, countless methods. The most important thing is not to be too strict with yourself, even if not everything goes according to your plan: often, a walk and fresh air help working motivated and staying on track. And of course, you can also combine several techniques. If you know of any other methods that work your you, please let us know! We are always looking forward to new input.