There are a million time management systems out there, and there are people who swear by every single one. So how do you figure out which systems work, and decide which ones to try out in your own life? Here are a few popular time management systems that may be worth sampling.
The Pomodoro Technique
Pomodoro means “tomato” in Italian, named after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that inspired the creator. This system is extremely simple: Using a timer, you work for 25-minute increments, taking short, 3-5 minute breaks in between each segment. Every four segments, you take a longer, 15-30 minute break.
This technique is designed to be simple, and to capitalize on the natural rhythm of your focus. Plus, the pomodoro technique helps prevent distractions by keeping you focused on each task for a set period.
The Eisenhower Principle
This technique is named after President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was once quoted as saying “I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.” After categorizing each task as urgent, important, or both, you order them according to the prescribed order of the Eisenhower principle: Important and urgent first, important but not urgent second, and then not important but urgent. Any task that is neither important nor urgent should usually just be discarded.
By using this principle to organize your to-do list, you can avoid wasting time on tasks that are urgent, but not important, and instead learn to prioritize the tasks that are important — even if they’re not urgent.
Eat a Frog
This system is based on a quote popularly attributed to Mark Twain: “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning.” But don’t worry, you don’t have to eat any amphibians! Instead, this technique encourages you to tackle the biggest, most difficult or most important task first thing in the morning. Not only does this guarantee that you complete your most crucial task each day, but it also ensures that you use up your mental energy on the most worthy items. Once your first task is complete, the rest of your day only gets easier.
Everyone needs something different from a time management system. To figure out which system works best for you, you may need to try out a few options. These three popular techniques are a great place to start!