We all have different time management styles that we live by to achieve our goals and objectives. Indeed, time is the most precious commodity, and it is furiously ticking. Once we lose an opportunity or a blessed moment, we can never regain it back.
Our lives are short and fleeting, and every single minute counts. While most people do waste these precious hours, there’s a smart crowd out there who value their time. Although time management can be tricky, there isn’t just one way to do it.
Successful people learn to master the art of time management through different styles and techniques. Like Apple CEO Tim Cook, some rise at the crack of dawn and know exactly what their day’s goals are. Others, like Reddit Co-founder Alexis Ohanian, prefer to be night owls as their productivity shoots up at midnight.
If you’re wondering why certain people are better at juggling their busy schedules while fulfilling their personal goals, then you’re in the right place. Every single person is different and unique. Their traits determine how well they use their time productively.
There isn’t just one framework to help you achieve effective time management. Here is an insightful list of different time management styles and techniques to assist your productivity.
The Six Major Different Time Management Styles
Styles are different from techniques. They are frameworks that represent different personality traits, and how those are utilized effectively to fulfill daily goals and objectives. Study the following six distinct time management styles, and figure out which one fits your personality.
1. The “Master Plan” Time Management
As the name goes, people under this category focus on the big picture. They have grand goals and master plans. Since they have a lot going on in their heads, their priorities are far-reaching and consequential. Instead of focusing on the smaller details, their plans are driven by supreme motivations.
Referred to as global strategists, their time management is all about achieving grand objectives. Quick-thinking, spontaneous, and agile, their aim is to complete tasks in the shortest amount of time. They constantly want to ensure their team is motivated and moving ahead.
Leaders, senior managers, and heads of big organizations are likely to follow this style. It helps them analyze all their goals comprehensively and ensure the overall growth of the organization. However, the big picture time management style can often cause them to leave out small details.
When drafting a daily plan of action, having a keen eye for details can help people come up with smaller, realistic goals. It helps them tone down their grandiose ambitions and approach their goals practically. Therefore, a drawback of this type of time management is that such people might miss out on the smaller, essential details needed for success.
However, this limitation can quickly transform into a strength if the person practicing this style has an eye for detail. If you fall into this category, you should ideally focus on articulating your goals and creating simple routines to live by. This will help you juggle your time between big and small goals, effectively.
2. The Multi-Tasking Time Management Style
A hopper or a multi-tasker constantly switches from one goal to the other. They know time doesn’t wait for anybody, so their energy is driven by constantly keeping themselves busy. This helps them manage their time well because they’re always engaged in one goal or the other.
They often start five other tasks even though they have other half-completed tasks. If you can relate to this style, then you can certainly get a lot done in very little time. It may appear that such people often fall prey to distractions, but that’s not true.
They have a growing need to stay productive all the time, and therefore, jump from one fruitful task to the other. However, with so many goals brewing on one side and others left pending, completion is something a hopper struggles with.
Following through and taking a particular goal to its end can be hard because hoppers have too much on their plates already. A quick way to get the best of this time management style is to fight the temptation of multi-tasking.
Train your brain to finish one task at a time by setting stricter deadlines. With such fierce energy to achieve something constantly, setting a timer or alarm can save you from distractions. You may take breaks to cool off, but focus on singular goals and achieve them one by one.
3. The Perfectionist Style
Perfectionist time management is inspired by unreasonably high personal standards. Such people like to work on their own and complete every task by themselves. They are very deadline oriented and prioritize completion before starting a different project.
As perfectionists, every single aspect of their goals and deadlines is strictly structured and followed. This type of time management doesn’t distinguish between high and low priority tasks. Everything has to be completed at its set time, and saying no isn’t a choice.
In an attempt to achieve every detailed goal on time, perfectionists are entirely different from the “big picture time management personality”. This way, they may end up dwelling on unimportant things. Not knowing how to sift out the priority tasks can often lead to poor time management.
If this style resonates with you, then a quick way to make the best of your time is to reason with your goals. Choose which ones are urgent and need prompt fulfillment, and leave out the details. Try to go easy on yourself, and dedicate your hours to one task at a time.
Understand that spending too much time on one goal can mess up your entire time management. Use your perfectionist traits to create holistic goals, and focus on your growth. You may not be able to complete that novel today, but if you can dedicate even 3 hours of your perfectionist skills on it, it’s good enough.
4. Intensely Focused Time Management
Much like the perfectionists, this style causes people to dwell upon details deeply. They focus too much on one goal and may even spend an entire day completing it. This time management style is great for urgent projects.
If you want to edit a novel, send hundreds of E-mails, or set up a blog, being intensely focused will minimize distractions. However, it’s important to remind yourself every now and then to move on to the next priority. Working on the same task for too long can kill your productivity.
A good way to train your focus is to start with a set plan in mind. Keep deadlines and once you reach them, move on to the next priority task. Instead of dedicating three hours, chunk your time in 20-25 minute segments and push yourself to be time-specific.
You should use your hyper-focus traits dedicatedly for those 20-25 minutes, and then move on. This will help you churn out quality content in lesser time.
5. The Impetuous Style of Time Management
People who are tenacious and act impetuously try to get things done without a pre-set plan in mind. They leap forward to achieve what’s on hand without giving their goals a structure. Managing time may be hard because a lack of planning may cause them to miss out on deadlines.
However, because they’re impulsive, such people finish the tasks at hand. They’re least bothered by distractions, and even when they don’t keep track of time, they’re adamant to resolve what life throws at them.
Such people do get bored easily by boring to-do checklists, so an early planning phase may not be the best decision for them. Being impulsive can cause them to miss out on essential details while they focus too much on task completion.
However, the main strength of this style of time management is that such people don’t put off their work for another time. They don’t procrastinate and have a great sense of urgency, which compels them to finish what’s in front of them. With a tendency to take risks and be bold, impulsive time management helps them hit the target.
But, this tendency can also wreak havoc on their time management because they don’t follow the rules. This style works well for emergencies. In a company, if you have urgent targets to hit or come up with a contingency plan in the face of crisis, impetuous time management greatly helps.
Driven by the philosophy of “Now, is the time…”, everything they do is spontaneous and result-oriented. Don’t start your day before creating a structured plan of what to do and when to accomplish it. Maintain routine reviews of your progress, and try to hit daily goals in the given time. Use your tenacity for fast-action.
6. Deadline-Oriented Time Management Style
Not everyone can take the pressure of deadlines, but the ones who do are extremely successful. People who function on this style of time management believe that they’re most productive when they have a target date to reach.
They enjoy the excitement and the adrenaline rush that comes once the deadline starts approaching. However, if they leave their work near the end date, it may not give them enough time to revise and re-check what they’ve produced.
If you’re someone who is driven by deadlines, then your goals may be lacking intrinsic motivation. A smart way to approach this is to always leave time for revisions. Schedule your tasks in a way that you always have time for some proof-reading.
Deadlines make you productive and help you achieve your goals on time. However, if you rush your goals to hit the target, you could end up mishandling things. Apart from causing stress and anxiety, you might just miss the high priorities.
Each style has its strengths and weaknesses. It doesn’t matter, which one you associate yourself with, there is always room for improvement. Following are some great time management techniques that can create a successful time management strategy if they are incorporated into the above-mentioned styles.
21 Additional Techniques of Effective Time Management
1. Plan, Plan, Plan
Nothing great is ever achieved without a prudent plan. Reflect on your goals, and figure out a timeline for them. Even if you can’t set deadlines, start by laying out a plan. Time is finite, and it’s seeping away from your hands as you read this.
Instead of constantly reminding yourself of what you need to do, plan it out at an earlier time. List down personal and professional goals, and organize them nicely as a to-do list. Your brain loves logical, ordered tasks. It clears up the mental haze that is stopping you from approaching your objectives.
2. Establish Your Energy Levels
If you want to be productive with your day, you have to follow a criterion – which is your energy levels. Every person has a limit, and if they overwork, they will experience burnout. If you are the most energetic during early morning hours, then schedule your goals around that time.
However, if you feel motivated at night, adjust your tasks accordingly. Your goal-setting should pivot around your energy levels. Reserve the most difficult projects, decisions, and tasks for when you are most efficient.
3. Prioritize Critical Work
Make this your life’s mantra. You could have a thousand objectives to fulfill, but if they’re not taking you closer to your real goals, they’re not a priority. Elon Musk – the CEO of Elon Musk – rightfully said, “Focus on signal over noise. Don’t focus on stuff that isn’t making anything better.”
Once you’ve penned down a to-do list, boldly circle all the critical work. Categorize them into a separate list of the “most important tasks”. You can use the Eisenhower Matrix to help you delegate each task to its rightful priority. Even if they’re too big for now, achieving a bit of them every day will make you feel accomplished.
We are living in a fast-paced, technology-driven world. If you’re not optimizing on the hi-tech resources around you, then you’re clearly wasting your time. Automate your routine, repetitive tasks with robots, machinery, or smart apps.
If you have to send the same marketing E-mail to a bunch of clients, use Gmail or any other mail used to make canned responses. As ready-made templates, they can be quickly sent to each person on your list. Instead of proof-reading your work, run it through smart software like Grammarly.
Use a spreadsheet to organize your data and an app to track your time instead of recording it manually. Find out how your daily tasks can be accomplished quickly through apps and smart machines.
5. Break Down Your Tasks
Your energy levels are directly influenced by how big of a task lies in front of you. Sending bulk E-mails, finishing a marketing poster, or preparing a presentation are all effortful and laborious tasks. If you don’t break them down into smaller, achievable goals, your motivation may switch off quicker than you expected.
This is a very useful practice and should be used in your day-to-day activities. Create smaller chunks out of big goals. That way, your brain will reinforce the thought that you can achieve them in time.
6. Contemplate Long-term Goals
An effective to-do list is a smart blend of short-term and long-term priorities. After you’ve listed down your daily objectives, focus on the long-term goals that you’ve been wishing to pursue.
Whether it’s opening up a business venture, traveling the world, or publishing a book – visualize them in your head. Long-term goals may take years to achieve, so their plan of action should be drafted accordingly.
7. Find a Team
Successful people always have a supportive friend or co-worker that they can outsource tasks to. In your to-do list, you’ll find that some goals are urgent, while others can be put off for later. Delegate an expert on the ones that are fairly important so you can achieve your goals quickly.
For people who are inclined towards the “perfectionist” or “the master plan” time management style – this is a great tip. Explain the tasks with clarity and trust their expertise.
8. Set a Time Limit
An essential aspect of goal-setting is to set deadlines. With time constraints, you’ll have a greater urge to complete your tasks. This way, you can tap into your “deadline time management style” as well. When you have a set time to finish a task, you automatically train your brain to focus on it and finish it.
It places pressure on the brain to focus all its energy on completing the task at hand. A good way to do this is to set a count-down timer. Say, if you’ve allotted 10 minutes to edit an article, you can switch on the timer, and increase your speed to finish in time.
9. Create a Realistic Estimate
Both your goals and deadlines need a realistic estimate. Don’t try to squeeze in a bunch of tasks in just half an hour. Be realistic about what you can achieve, and push yourself just a little to accomplish it quicker.
Designing a website may take more time than writing an article. Hence, dedicate a time limit that sounds practical enough in your head to achieve it.
10. Streamline Meetings
If you’re working in a team, optimize them to avoid wasting time. Co-workers and teammates are likely to engage in lengthy discussions and banter. There are chances that a meeting planned for 15 minutes may extend up to an hour because of a long Q/A session.
Create a well-planned agenda before you start the meeting. Prioritize the most important issues to discuss. Lastly, brief your team members about these priorities in an E-mail prior to the meetings so they know what to expect.
11. Cultivate Quick Decision-Making
Unlike the perfectionist style of management, don’t dwell too much on each and every single detail of a task. Reason with your objectives and if something requires quick decision-making, then don’t hesitate. Most of our time is spent over-thinking the unreal consequences of our decisions.
Suzy Welch promotes a simple way to exercise quick decision-making. The 10-10-10 Life transforming idea urges to ask yourself these three pressing questions.
- “How will I feel about this decision 10 minutes from now?”
- “How will I feel about 10 months from now?”
- “What about 10 years from now?”
By answering these questions, your decisions will achieve a resolution quickly and easily.
12. Fight Away Distractions
It can take over 20 minutes for a person to resume their task after getting distracted from it. There are many things that can interfere with your goals. Sometimes, it’s your indolence, while other times it’s your phone, computer, or friends.
Once you lose your focus, it’ll take you longer to get back than when you started. The only way to avoid this is to set uncompromising restrictions for yourself. Don’t use social media at night or at work. Perhaps, even turn off your Wi-Fi if you won’t need it.
Turn off useless notifications, and try not to use your phone at on odd timing. You can turn your “busy” or “sleeping” status on social chats to avoid conversations. Train yourself into self-discipline.
13. Work on One Thing at a Time
Multi-tasking is a prized trait, but not everyone is built for it. You are more likely to get distracted when you hop from one task to the other. You can mix up 2 or 3 micro-skills to achieve things quickly, however, squeezing in too many goals at once can be stressful.
Train your brain with strong affirmations to focus on single-tasking. Put off everything else until you’ve crowned the task in front of you. This way, you’ll actually end up getting things done than leaving them half-baked.
14. Make Use of a Calendar
Using a calendar can put a lot of your goals into perspective. Mark all your important dates on physical or online calendars. They will give you a sense of purpose and stop you from slacking off or losing your focus.
Online calendars like CoziCold and CaldenarWhiz can take your time management to the next level. You can create important events like meetings and conferences, reminders, and track your long-term progress.
15. Abandon Perfectionism
Perfectionism is a myth. It steals more hours of your creativity and precious time than even procrastinating. Focus on getting things done rather than languishing on why they’re not perfect yet. As long as you’re doing your best and raising your quality of work, you’re on the right track.
Strive to progress and improve continuously no matter how little. That is far more productive and healthy for effective time management.
16. Defeat Procrastination
Procrastinating is the biggest killer of productivity. Don’t put things off for later because tomorrow never comes. Instead, trick your brain through the simple 2-minute rule. Any task that takes just 2 minutes to complete shouldn’t be delayed.
Responding to a friend’s E-mail or finishing the last edits of a project are things you can do in 2 minutes. You can even form habits in 2 minutes. Going to bed at 10 pm, reading an informative article every day, or drinking 8 glasses of water are achievable in 2 minutes.
17. Optimize Routine Processes
All your routine tasks can be standardized with smart checklists and quick decision-making. Go through all your to-do lists every day and see if there’s anything that can be eliminated or chunked with another goal.
Here, you can afford to multi-task. If you have to finish chores and complete a book, you can listen to its audio while you perform the daily grind. If you’re going to send routine E-mails to your team members, might as well create templates to save time.
18. Learn to Say ‘No’
Half of our time wastes away in commitments that we could’ve easily refused. You are a busy person with plenty of goals to bring off. Learn to say ‘no’ when you know you can’t commit.
A late-night birthday bash, an intimidating project, or a problematic co-worker can all steal hours of your time. What sets apart successful people is that they have the confidence to refuse.
19. Record Your Daily Routine
Tracking your daily routine will help you identify which activities take up most of your time. You can use a list of productivity apps to audit your time. This will help you make a conscious effort to stick to deadlines and cut down distractions.
20. Use Your “Slug-time” Effectively
It’s not possible to always be in the groove and stay productive. Times when you’re feeling fatigued and not motivated enough, do something you love to recharge your brain. Take a refreshing break and read a chapter of your favorite book.
Pick up a relaxing magazine or solve puzzles. These breaks freshen up your mind, and help you manage both your stress and time.
21. Don’t forget to Take Care of Yourself
Successful time management comes with looking after yourself. Productive people always get ample sleep, eat right, and exercise. They look after their bodies because, after all, that is what helps them achieve their monster goals.
There is no one-size-fits-all model of time management, and these styles and techniques are here to prove it. Study the different time management styles and pair them up with the right techniques to achieve all your goals!