7 Time Management Tricks to Save Hours of Your Time

Akash Kumar Goel
9 min readOct 14, 2021
article on time management

Table of Contents:

#1 Always Plan

#2 Don’t Bite More Than You Can Chew

#3 Box Similar Tasks Together

#4 The Pomodoro Technique

#5 Parkinson’s Law

#6 The Eisenhower Matrix

#7 The Pareto Principle

You might often find yourself in situations where you have to choose between spending time with your friends and a work call. You might find it challenging to juggle a full-time job with your passion project. It seems impossible to meet deadlines, be a friend who is around in the time of need and get some time off for a vacation once in a while, all because you don’t have enough time?

The problem is not having time; it is about managing time in the most effective way to make time for everything you want to do.

Most countries in Asia have a cyclical time view, i.e., they don’t see time as either linear or event-related. Days, seasons, months happen repetitively; therefore, they view time as cyclical and do not consider it wasted as, given its nature, it will always come back. Such cultures put more stress on completing tasks correctly. Therefore, more time is spent on impact analysis of a decision before acting on a plan. In short, efficiency is more focused upon in these cultures. That’s why a considerable amount of literature on time management focuses on the ‘real effectiveness’ of work done in a given time.

Evidence-based research, published in the Journal of Educational Psychology, has suggested that it is not time management but the belief of being in control of our time that leads to better outcomes. The feeling of having a hold of your time is liberating and induces confidence. As a result, you will avoid stress, procrastination and keep those jitters at bay.

Here we are with some effective Time Management Tricks. Read till the end to know the Secret to Elon Musk’s success.

#1 Always Plan

Always keep a note-taking app or a pen and diary handy to keep a tab of all the scheduled meetings, deadlines etc. and plan accordingly. Planning puts you in charge of your time. It enables you to assess situations and make informed decisions proactively. There is enough buffer time to reprogramme if required. Keeping a diary and pen handy will help a great deal. Just make a note of deadlines and essential details to stay a step ahead.

Always Plan — best practices for time management

While spontaneity is always a welcome change in spurts, it cannot substitute for having a well-laid-out plan. Anydo and Time Planner are links to some fantastic planner apps to keep you a step ahead of your peers.

#2 Don’t Bite More Than You Can Chew

A study conducted at Stanford University shows how multitasking adds stress to our daily lives and negatively affects our mood, motivation and productivity. According to the study:

‘People who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information do not pay attention, control their memory or switch from one job to another as well as those who prefer to complete one task at a time.’

Avoid Multi Tasking — best time management skills

Try not to have too much on your plate. When one has too many tasks to attend to, the focus is likely to dwindle, affecting the quality of the work delivered. In addition, when you have many tasks to attend to, you must frequently switch from one task to the other, which has a tangible effect on your cognitive ability. Even people who are great at multitasking fail miserably at sorting out relevant details when there is an influx of information.

#3 Box Similar Tasks Together

It is helpful to attend to similar tasks together or in the same time slot. Say you have 2 essays along with a presentation that you have to prepare for. I advise you to finish the essays together (a writing task) and then jump to preparing for a presentation.

Box Similar Tasks — best time management techniques

➔ You may categorize your work as follows:

➢ Writing/Editing

➢ Administrative

➢ Coordination

➢ Mentoring

You can then assign each category a time limit within which you accomplish that set of tasks. This time limit will also help you keep a tab of your time and understand which tasks take most of your time and which require the least amount of effort. Thus, putting you in a better position to manage your time.

#4 The Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique was devised by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s. It is a time management technique with focused work sessions and frequent breaks. Break/Interval ‘pomodoro’ — the Italian word for tomato.

The Pomodoro Technique — best time management tips

The original technique has the following steps:

➔ Deciding the task to be done.

➔ Set the timer (traditionally a 25-minute Pomodoro Timer)

➔ Get working

➔ Stop working when the timer hits 25 minutes and take a break (traditionally a 5-minute break)

➔ After doing 3–4 pomodoros, you can take a more extended break (traditionally 15–30 minutes long)

I recommend a minimum of three to four Pomodoro cycles before taking the long break. Regular breaks help in the assimilation of information consumed and helps in better processing of the same.

The Goal: This technique aims at reducing external interruptions to a minimum to allow for focus and flow in work.

Suggested App: Pomodoro Timer

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#5 Parkinson’s Law

The famous British historian, Cyril Northcote Parkinson, said, ‘Work expands to fill the period of time available for its completion.’ This saying popularly came to be known as Parkinson’s law.

Parkinson’s Law — activities for time management

Here is a breakdown:

Give yourself a week to complete an essay that would usually take you only two hours. The amount of work will expand, meaning the task will increase in complexity (psychologically speaking) and would only become daunting to fill the week. You are very likely to fill the buffer time you have given yourself with stress and only stress about getting the work done.

It is important to note that Parkinson’s law is an observation based on behavioral patterns and not a concrete formula or some voodoo magic trick, for that matter.

Here is how you can use the law to get things done quicker and more efficiently.

➔ Give yourself half the time you have assigned to a particular task. Avoid unnecessary ‘leg room’ or buffer time. In short, see the time limit as a crucial variable for getting work done.

➔ Try and become a better judge of your time. This ‘being a judge’ means that you will have to work better with time projections for tasks at hand.

➔ And lastly, Prioritize. The most effective use of Parkinson’s law is by prioritizing your To-Do list.

There is more on prioritizing in the next point.

#6 The Eisenhower Matrix

The To-Do list looks overwhelming, and you cannot decide where to begin? Prioritize.

I advise you to break the tasks at hand into smaller chunks and arrange them in order of priority.

The Eisenhower Matrix — apps for time management

Eisenhower Matrix helps with the same. Following are the categories according to the matrix:

Important and Urgent: Tasks you should do first.

Important but Not Urgent: Tasks you can schedule for later.

Not Important but Urgent: These tasks can be delegated to someone else and do not require your active involvement.

Not Important and Not Urgent: You can skip the tasks which fall into this category.

Using the matrix, you can easily arrange your tasks in order of urgency, importance, effort, and the best part? You can do it easily on a sheet of paper to quickly prioritize your assignments.

#7 The Pareto Principle

Popularly known as the 80/20 rule, Pareto Principle states that 80% of consequences come from 20% of the causes.

The Pareto Principle — how can i improve my time management skills

The basic idea is that 80% of our output should come from 20% of our time. This concept encourages you to focus on things that matter the most and create maximum value by your work.

Following are the two most actionable ways to use the 80/20 rule for time management:

Evaluate your tasks

Ask yourself questions like, Am I wasting too much time on this task, does it require a lot of effort, can this task be delegated etc.

Such evaluation will help you realign your goals and keep your eye on the bigger picture.

Know your productivity hours

Are you a morning person or a night owl? Know your most productive hours and schedule the day accordingly. Schedule the most important and urgent tasks for your prime time and low priority tasks for running out of steam. This way, you will get more work done quite efficiently daily.

time management skills

Congratulations on finding the time to read this article till the end. This ‘few minutes read’ will save hours of your time every day.

And as you know, for sticking with us till the end, you deserve a bonus tip!

Bonus Tip: Eat that frog!

So, we are done with all the planning, muting notifications and everything! What next? Why is the work not done yet? Why are these deadlines still hanging over my head? Oh…so like I have to work now? Yup! Just do it; if you have set your mind to something, do it. It is as simple as that. Difficult? Sure. It is advisable to identify the most challenging task on your list and get to it first. Tick it off your list, and then it is smooth sailing forward.

Elon Musk’s 5-Minute Rule: The Time Blocking Technique

Elon Musk, the famous millennial icon, is one the smartest and the busiest businessman. He has a family, many successful businesses and plans of sending people to Mars!

So how does he do it all? He is often seen discussing the Time Blocking Technique as a method for time management and attributes a part of his success to it.

Elon Musk — how to improve time management

From waking up in the morning to going about his business to going to bed at night, he plans every last second of his day. He intentionally plans his day in five-minute increments or time blocks, with each block assigned an activity/task, which leaves no room for interruptions.

➔ For implementing this rule, you have to see it as a method of using the Parkinson’s Law of time management (refer to point no.5)

Tip: Smaller tasks like sending an email, packing a meal are easier to fit into 5-minute time blocks. Whereas when it comes to elaborate tasks, like preparing a presentation or writing an essay, you want to block them into larger time chunks, or you can break the task into smaller subtasks.

Goal: Implementing such a method allows you to channelize all your energy into doing a particular task, thus enabling you to be your most productive.

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Akash Kumar Goel

Entrepreneur at Heart. Hands-on experience at managing a business. Enjoys sharing knowledge about entrepreneurship and lifestyle.