How should a time management system be set up? Though this is a seemingly simple and easy question, it can stir quite a lot of debate.
There are myriads of opinions on how good time management works. Every productivity guru has his or her own take on the perfect time management system. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. You need to set a up a system that is easy to use and yet captures the complexity of your work and life.
Is a time management system even needed?
Some even argue that time management is useless. We should rather focus on finding a purpose in life and how we set vision, goals, and priorities. The rest will follow by itself. Others insist ay it is all about designing your day or building good habits. So, what is true?
Why there is not one perfect time management system. The reason for this is simple: There is no one perfect time management system out there. Just because we humans are different. It’s as with pasta sauce: You will hardly find a recipe that everybody agrees to be the best sauce in the world.
We must perform different types of work and have different workloads. We have our own character and personality, our personal life circumstances and obligations to family, friends, and other people. We have different preferences and aversions.
How should you build your system?
Even though there is no “one best way” to time management, there are principles you can follow and adapt to your personal situation. You will go through some trial and error. But it’s worth it. This way, you can start on a journey to continuously improve the way you manage your time.
Time management principle 1: Get organized.
You can not manage time directly. You can only manage how you use it. Depending on the complexity and pace of your life (number of jobs, projects, stakeholders, ambition level, etc…) you will need a more or less elaborated personal productivity system. This system should support you in prioritizing your tasks and deciding what to do when. It should also help you with sticking to your plans and to actually act on them. No matter how complex your life is, keep your systems as simple as possible. Your personal productivity system only needs to have five core elements.
Time management principle 2: Design your day
Your time management system can be supported by a deliberate design of your day. A good structure that caters your natural rhythm and allows for productive and recreational times will give you a boost. Not only regarding what you can achieve, but also in your personal wellbeing. These best practices of day design can easily be integrated into your everyday life.
Time management principle 3: Avoid procrastination traps
There are a lot of procrastination traps out there. We are easily distracted. Especially if we do not like the task at hand if we fear to fail or if we feel some degree anxiety about it. Ovoid procrastination traps and your time management will improve automatically.
Time management principle 4: Build good habits
Building good habits can strongly strengthen your time management system. The more you are following your time management principles naturally, the less you need to invest mental energy in keeping it alive.
Time management principle 5: Avoid distractions
Last but not least, a good time management system is strongly enhanced if it helps you to avoid distractions. Distractions not only steal your time. They also ruin your concentration and the quality of your work.
Applying these five principles to your time management system, you will get ahead faster and better. A shortcut to improve your time management can also be to try proven systems and approaches into your time management. For me, using a tickler file app was such booster in time efficiency.