How Theories of Time Management Can Help You

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In one of the many Twitter chats I´ve been a part of we somehow got into the topic of Time Management. It´s a metaskill that helps you organize and structure your work so that you´ll be super efficient. It seems like it´s one of those skills that some people have and others just don´t. But that´s not true. In my studies I had two lectures on what we call Work and Organizational Psychology which is focused on businesses, their structures and the happiness of their workers. I was taught a lot about time management as well including these four theories that are actually really easy to implement in your everyday work. And I promise they can work for everyone!

Pareto Prinicple or 80/20 Rule

This might sound like a really statistical and therefore hard theory but it´s actually one of the easiest out there. It states that for many events about 80% of the output come from 20% of the input. This can be applied to almost every part of your life. The most common use in business is saying that 20% of your costumers generate 80% of your revenues. For time management this means that 80% of your task is completed in only 20% of the time you spent on that task.

What this means for you: Reduce your to-do list so that it´s focused on the things you need to get done (aka the big 80% of your output). Find your most productive time slot and do all your work during it. Don´t allow for any distractions during your work time. This comes with the big benefit of giving you 80% of your time for your passions which in terms of this principle will make you a lot happier.
Sources: Entrepreneurs JourneyThe Balance

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Getting Things Done (GTD) & Workload

It´s a well-known principle in psychology that your short term memory has a capacity of 7 +/- 2 chunks. In time management each of your tasks is such a chunk and that´s why when you have a lot to do you can feel overloaded and can´t concentrate well on the task at hand. Your capacity is already taken up by the amount of tasks in your head.
Based on this David Allen created the Getting Things Done Principle with five easy steps to follow: Capture, note down everything that´s on your mind to clear your head of those chunks; Clarify, analyse each task and erase tasks that are not actionable, note down the very next step to every task on your list; Organize, instead of having one list with all your task categorize them; Reflect, review your list frequently and check for progress and what steps need to be done next; Engage, perform the very next step for all your tasks.

What this means for you: Stop just starting any task in the morning. Sit down and follow the first three steps to create an efficient to-do list. Tackle the next step on all your tasks one at a time and don´t worry about the bigger picture or other tasks; you´ve got that sorted out already. A nice extra benefit to this is that you´ll be able to work on many projects at the same time without getting lost because you´ve got each step planned out.
source: Getting Things Done 

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Pickle Jar Theory

Imagine an empty pickle jar. Now fill it with some big stone. Once they´re all in there, it´s full right? Not true. Try filling it with gravel and then sand. Maybe you need to shake it up a bit but there´s still space for them in between the stones. But now it´s surely full, isn´t it? Well, fill the jar up with water. Water will still fill the tiniest empty spaces. Now take a second empty pickle jar and fill it with water. Now try filling it with stones, gravel or sand without it overrunning. Now that´s truly not possible.
The pickle jar represents your limited time and the stones, gravel, sand and water all your tasks and how big they are (stones are the biggest ones and water are the smallest ones).

What this means for you: Prioritize your tasks and do the big ones first (aka your stones). That way you´ll get way more tasks done over your whole time. Set yourself a minimum of 3-7 big goals for the week (the less the better) because more stones will simply not fit in your jar and therefore make you unhappy. It´s so helpful to prioritize your tasks and get the big ones out of the way early in the day or week as this leaves you with enough time to get those smaller tasks done and it will actually stop you from worrying too much.
source: Time Management Success ; Balanced Momentshttp://www.balancedmoments.com/the-pickle-jar-theory/


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Parkinson´s Law

This theory states that work will fill the time available for its completion. Being busy is socially acceptable so that we often find work that´ll fill time to make us look busy without generating any output. The concept was mostly developed by seeing that companies growing in size mostly equaled a drop in their efficiency. The workers have more time to do a certain task (because more people are available for work) and therefore it takes them longer.

What this means for you: Set your self a certain, achievable but short time to complete a task. Put yourself under pressure to achieve the task in the assigned time (e.g. by not having your laptop charger with you, giving yourself a punishment if you don´t). This will also mean that you´ll have a way more structured day as a whole as your planning in certain times for tasks. There´s no chance you´re gonna overwork yourself.
sources: Business Dictionary ; Impossible HQ


Now obviously these are four theoretical approaches to Time Management. There´s no guarantee that each of these will help you personally. But they´re all worth a try at least. You could also just take the practical tips you like from each one and mix them together. Just like many other things time management is very much down to how you like to work. But if you don´t feel like you´re doing the best at it you could be just go ahead and try some things out. It´s definitely not going to hurt you. I´ve actually implemented many of these tips into my routine and I now feel like I´m getting way more stuff done in a day.

Do you have any additional tips on time management? Does one of these theories speak to you?

12 comments

  1. Great post doll! You're photography is looking amazing hun xx

    http://www.thatnewdress.com

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    1. Thank you so much, lovely!
      xx Lisa

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  2. That watch is so pretty! lovely post x

    Liz | LotsofLoveLiz x

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    1. Thank you. I saw it on the Asos website and immediately knew that I had to have it!
      xx Lisa

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    2. Thank you. I saw it on the Asos front page and just new I had to have it!
      xx Lisa

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  3. Sometimes my time management is on point whereas other days I'm either so overwhelmed or so unenthusiastic that it goes right out the window. I've heard the pickle jar theory before but have never actually attempted to put it into practice. I think next time I'm feeling overwhelmed by my to do list I'll implement this theory.

    Raise The Waves

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    1. Honestly, same. One day I´m smashing my to do list & the next I can´t be bothered to start anything really. But I´ve found that scheduling the big tasks at the beginning of the day certainly helps
      xx Lisa

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  4. This is great! Knowing the different ways to approach time management really helps to figure out which one applys best! Im a huge fan of the Parkinsons Law theory. Great post!

    Foirell

    www.citygirlrell.com - Lifestyle Blog

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    1. Thank you! I do hope it helps some people out there. Maybe it´s just to try out something different that might work for you.
      xx Lisa

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  5. These are brilliant theories and do speak true. I often find a task does not take as long to do as I thought, which confirms the 80/20 point. Think i'll have to bookmark this page to come back to as i'll never remember them all! Amy at Amy & More

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    1. Thank you so much! Yes, once I put my full attention to a task I´m always surprised by how fast it actually can be done.
      xx Lisa

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