In the article “I road tested five time management strategies. Here’s what worked” I. Tolhurst (2017) explores the effectiveness of all the above mentioned popular time management strategies from the perspective of their efficacy, advantages, and disadvantages. He claims that the best strategy is the so-called Pomodoro technique the main principle of which is as follows: for twenty-five minutes, one should work hard on something without paying attention to any other things such as email checking, playing any games, chatting with friends, etc. This session of intense work is followed by a 5-minute break during which a person can do whatever they want in order to shift attention to something not connected with the task. After the fourth or fifth such session, the break can be extended up to 20-30 minutes. This strategy has proved to be effective for a number of reasons, in particular, because it divides a person’s time into short periods and requires all-out effort and concentration during them. As a result, it is easier for a person to focus attention on one action and complete it in the best possible way.
Another strategy that helps people to regulate their daily activities, which got its name from a famous quote by Mark Twain, is called “Eat that Frog” and is described in the book “Eat that Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time.” The principle of the strategy is the following: all the difficult, stressful, time-consuming, and unpleasant tasks should be done first. The effectiveness of this strategy can be explained by two facts. First, in the morning, just after awakening, the human brain is the most productive; therefore, it would require less time to complete something in the morning than to do the same task in the evening. Second, after a person finishes doing all the daunting tasks, the level of stress declines, and people can continue working without psychological pressure. Moreover, this strategy helps to develop a more realistic vision of how much time and strength some tasks require and what makes a person’s work effective.
Another time-management technique is the urgent-important matrix that allows people to divide all the tasks into four categories, namely urgent, important, non-urgent, and non-important. The advantage of this method lies in the fact that all the tasks are visualized, and a person can set the priority of completing various tasks on the basis of the above-mentioned division. However, it fails to set the timeframes and depends on the person’s ability to classify the tasks. Therefore, this method can be effective either for well-organized people who generally tend to plan their day in accordance with the tasks priorities or as an element of a more complicated strategy.
One of the most popular and widely discussed strategies for time management is the so-called Lists-making. The key idea is that every morning one writes down a list of things one wants to do during a day, week, year, etc. As B. J. Claessens et al. (2004) claim, planning daily activities and prioritizing them enhances perceived control of time, leading to less strain, more job satisfaction, and higher job performance (p.946).” The efficiency of this concept depends on the way a person determines the goals to reach. On the one hand, there are people perceiving must-do lists as visualization of their life goals and a kind of motivation. Therefore, the effectiveness of this method for such people is relatively high. On the other hand, many people include in these lists only those things they know for sure they will be able to complete. In this case, it is not a method of time management but rather a means of psychological self-praising.
The fifth time management strategy deals with the greatest time-consumer of the era of social media – emails. As G. J. Feeney (1967) states, the issues of time management and time-sharing are “the natural overgrowth of two technologies: computing and communications (p.112).” According to this concept, one should dedicate only two hours a day to checking and answering emails: an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening, not spending time on it during the day. Though from the first sight this strategy seems to be rather time-saving, it is suitable only for people whose work does not depend on receiving and sending emails. All the more, apart from emails, there is plenty of things a person does within a day that negatively influences the working effectiveness. Therefore, the time saved with the help of this strategy is unlikely to impact the productiveness of a person greatly.
All in all, the most effective time management strategies are the Urgent-important Matrix, the Pomodoro Technique, the Eat the Frog Strategy, the Lists-making, and the Two-hour Email Checking Concept. Some of them positively influence people’s productivity when applied separately, others – when used in a complex with some other methods. Nevertheless, their main idea is to teach a person to organize their time regularly and objectively estimate time and efforts they need to complete various tasks.
Claessens, B. J., Van Eerde, W., Rutte, C. G., & Roe, R. A. (2004). Planning behavior and perceived control of time at work. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 25(8), 937-950
Feeney, G. T. (1967). Time sharing, management, and management science. Management Science, 13(6), c, 112-116.
Tolhurst, I. (2017, September 14). I road tested 5 time management strategies. Here’s what worked. The Cusp. Retrieved November 14, 2017, from http://thecusp.com.au/5-time-management-strategies-heres-worked/17812.