You never hear anyone say they’ve got too much time on their hands. Everyone’s constantly on the go. Add to this the fact that we all have more and more things competing for our time and attention, and you end up in a situation where most of us are time-poor. At least that’s how we feel. That’s why it’s critical to know how to use your time wisely, and to do this, you need to know the right time management technique. That’s a time management technique that you will stick to and one that works for you. 

But how many time management techniques are there out there? In this post, I want to share with you 38 time management techniques that I’ve come across that will help you when it comes to using your time wisely. And while I’m sure there are many more techniques out there, hopefully, you’ll find something on this list that works for you.

1. Time block 

Let’s start with a time management technique that you’re probably already familiar with. Time blocking.

The time blocking technique is exactly what it says on the tin. Using this time management technique, you block out time in your schedule/calendar for specific tasks. This way tasks have a set start and finish time, and since you’ve allocated time to complete the tasks, it means they will get done. What’s more, time blocking means that you don’t multi-task, since you’re focused on one task for the duration of the block. However long that might be.

One thing I would say about time blocking is that you need to be strict with yourself about not letting tasks overspill into the next block of time. You can do this by giving yourself a little more time than you anticipate a task will need. 

Most of us tend to do the opposite of this because it’s so easy to underestimate how long tasks realistically take. 

2. Be intentional 

If you want to start using your time wisely, then you need to be intentional. Being intentional is about living consciously. Rather than simply letting time pass by, floating along from this to that, when you’re intentional with your time it means that you spend your time conscious of what you’re doing and with an outcome in mind. 

This doesn’t mean that being intentional is all about work. On the contrary. When you’re intentional you’re pickier about the things you’re prepared to spend your valuable time on vs the things you’re not. As a result of using your time wisely in this way, you’ll have more time to spend on those fun activities that you currently feel you never have time for.

Ultimately being intentional with your time is about picking and choosing what you want rather than letting life take over and letting others choose for you.   

By spending your time I’m this way, you’ll be sure to get more of the things done in your life that are important to you. 

Woman Planning Her Calendar

Photo by Anete Lusina from Pexels

3. Plan activities in advance 

Another way to spend your time more wisely is to plan activities ahead of time. It’s easy to fall into the trap of scheduling in work tasks, and not scheduling in time for fun, relaxation, and downtime. 

When you’re super busy with work and you feel like there’s barely enough time to get what you have to do done, weekends can come and go, or worse still they can get filled with work. Whether it’s sending emails, completing those admin tasks that you never quite get to, or finally catching up on that project, work can spill over. Making sure you schedule in time for rest is essential. 

If you typically find yourself flying by the seat of your pants and jumping from task to task in your work or business, then planning time for certain activities like reviewing your goals, reviewing your week, and planning for the week ahead, can help you get a handle on your workday. 

4. Plan effectively 

Planning is an activity that takes place in every business as well as in every aspect of our personal lives ( to varying degrees). It’s such an important activity that there are quotes about it, as well as many professions dedicated to the sole purpose of planning. 

There are a wide variety of different types of planning and plans. For example Business planning, land planning, financial planning, event planning, strategic planning, succession planning, contingency planning marketing plans, and on and on. 

The fact that there are so many roles dedicated to planning highlights just how critical the planning process is.   

In the business context, planning is the function of management that involves setting objectives and determining a course of action for achieving those objectives. This is no different from the planning you can do for yourself.

Unfortunately, planning doesn’t always lead to time well spent. Ineffective planning is just as bad as not planning at all. Failing to allocate enough time for tasks, not including tasks that are seemingly minor, but are essential, and not leaving any buffer for those unexpected tasks that might crop up, are just a few ways that planning can be ineffective. 

To ensure that you plan effectively, make sure you allow realistic timeframes for tasks, be sure to give yourself space between tasks as inevitably things will crop up that you didn’t expect, and finally, review and update your plan often.

Because there are so many planning professions, and many varied contexts where the planning takes place, it’s not surprising that there are also many planning principles and different variations of what a good planning process looks like. A google search for planning principles or planning processes brings up 4 step, 5 step, 6 and even 7 step planning processes, and more! 


But no matter what the context is, or how differently they’re described, there are some core steps to the planning process and some key principles that make up a good plan. Whether you’re putting together a strategic plan for your business or whether you’re completing an annual plan in your job.

Step 1: Know your environment and understand the need for a plan

This step is all about assessing your situation thoroughly and knowing what opportunities you have for improving how you work, what needs to change, and why and how you might be able to solve your current time management or business problems by achieving your goals.   

By assessing your environment before you even start to create a plan, you can look at things from a global perspective and you’ll be able to create a better plan as a result of this.

Step 2: Set goals

Every good plan is in place to help you work towards achieving a clear goal or objective. Therefore, during your planning process, it’s critical to make sure you set goals. These goals could be short, medium, or long-term. The important thing to remember here is that you also use a suitable goal-setting process. 

Step 3. Develop assumptions or premises.

Planning is a process that takes you from where you are to where you want to go. It is forward-thinking and therefore at the stage of planning there are things which you cannot know for sure. To create a robust plan, you need to make some assumptions or educated guesses. These could be about things like, who will be available to support you when you implement your plan, what time you will have available to implement certain aspects of your plan, and what technical resources you will have at your disposal. 

While you won’t know all these things for certain, to move forwards, you must make assumptions. 

Step 4:  Research and review your options 

There’s usually more than one way to do things, but clearly, some ways are better than others. Before you start taking action, it’s important to research the different possible ways you could achieve your goals. 

once you’ve done this, you can choose the best one. This could be the option that fits best with the time you have available ( the least time-consuming), it could be the option that doesn’t require you to have certain skills which you currently don’t have, or your decision could be based on some other factor. 

The most important thing is that you do your research and weigh your options. This doesn’t have to be a lengthy process, depending on what you’re planning for. 

Step 5: Choose your plan of action.

But of course, for now, you must choose one course of action and get started. 

Step 6: Be flexible and develop a supporting plan of action

Since you have to make some assumptions during the planning process and since, as we already discussed above, things crop up, every plan needs to be flexible. As such, you need to be prepared to change course.

To be flexible and prepared, a good planning process also involves researching different ways to achieve your goals. This means that if route 1 becomes unavailable, you can smoothly continue with route 2 or even 3. 

Step 7: Implementation and follow up 

This is where you put your plan into action, being sure to check in and make sure that the plan is still suitable so that you can change course as and when you need to. 

If you check any action plans against this checklist, you can be sure that your planning is as effective as possible. 

5. Eisenhower matrix  

Something which you may have already heard of is the Eisenhower principle.  This is a way of separating tasks into 4 priorities and actioning them accordingly, based on the quadrant they fall into. 

Using this method of prioritization you place tasks into one of the following buckets:

Important and urgent – TAKE ACTION ON IT NOW 

When you’re operating in this area of the matrix, you are in firefighting mode. To get here, these tasks have been left unactioned for too long, often because you prioritized other things ahead of them because they weren’t urgent at the time. When you get into this quadrant it can be hard to get out, because eventually, when not taken care of, all important things become urgent. 

Urgent but not important – DELEGATE IT

These are the types of tasks that have to be done, but they’re not important. This means that they don’t necessarily have to be done by you. You can and should delegate these tasks if at all possible. Remember, this doesn’t just mean delegating them to another person, you may need to create a system or process in which these tasks are delegated to a machine. This kind of thing often requires putting in time upfront, so that you can leave it and spend minimal time on it in the long run. 

Not important and not urgent – STOP IT

When things are not important AND not urgent you shouldn’t be doing them at all. These are often tasks that we do because we’ve always done them. Like reports that no one ever actually reads, but no one ever bothered to check-in and confirm their value, or like those tasks, we do to distract ourselves or to procrastinate. 

If it’s not moving you towards any goal, then stop doing it. 

Important and not urgent – BEING PROACTIVE – SCHEDULE IT 

These are the tasks you want to be spending your time on. When you’re well organized and have prioritized away the other tasks effectively, you’re left to work on the things that matter, BEFORE they become urgent. 

These are often things like major projects with added value ( income/ revenue-generating, cost-saving, process improvements, and efficiencies, further learning and development activities, etc) 

Photo by Vlada Karpovich from Pexels

6. Batch similar tasks 

Task switching has a cost associated with it. We often hear that you shouldn’t multi-task and that you should focus on one task at a time (more on that later). But did you know that switching tasks at any point has a cognitive cost, even when you still focus on each task, one at a time after the switch? 

From a variety of different experiments research has shown that participants lost time when they had to switch from one task to another. The more complex the tasks, the more time they lost. As a result, people took significantly longer to switch between more complex tasks.

This time cost was also high when the participants switched to relatively unfamiliar tasks. They got up to speed faster when they switched to tasks they knew better.

What does this all mean? The less you switch between different tasks, that require different skills, the greater your output, the more productive you’ll be. This is why batching is such a powerful tool.

By batching, you can firstly do one task in a batch process, then switch, ideally to a task that is similar to minimize the loss of time and productivity. 

The time lost in these experiments was due to people having to change “gears” thinking differently for tasks that were cognitively different,  and time was also lost for people having to effectively learn on the go, for unfamiliar tasks. 

In short, batch. Do all your sales calls in a row, not one here and one there ( We used to call this the power hour in Sales!). Cook all your food for the week’s lunches in one go, slice all your veg in one go. If you create content for your business, do all your writing in one day, all your social media in one day, or all your podcast interviewing in one or two days. 

In short, the more you can batch tasks, the more efficient you’ll be. 

What tasks can you start batching in your daily life?

7. Stop multitasking 

Even if you choose not to batch, when you’re on a task, focus on that one task and that one task alone. I know how tempting it is to “just quickly check that email” or “just quickly make that call” but these things add up, and while it doesn’t feel like it, it takes time to regain focus on the main task at hand. 

Another thing we all know and which researchers also found was that task switching and multitasking led to more mistakes. 

8. Learn to say no and say no more often

Something many of us can get better at, that will help us to spend our time wisely is practicing the art of saying no. As simple as it sounds, by simply saying no more often, you’ll get so much time back that you can put towards things that you want to spend your time doing. 

How many maybe’s have you said when you wanted to say no? 

Saying no means you can keep your energy and focus on the things that are a real yes!

9. Use 4 ds – Delegate, ditch it, defer it, do it

Like the Eisenhower matrix, another way to categorize tasks is using the 4Ds. Using this method, you review your tasks regularly and assign them to one of the 4 D categories. Tasks either need to be deleted/ditched, done, delegated to someone else or deferred to another time. 

10. Cut out distractions 

What’s on your desk? And is your workspace in order? If not, then this is the time to declutter and get organized because distractions are another time suck! 

Distractions come in many forms. From the small tasks you want to waste your time doing because they make you FEEL good even though they don’t move the needle, to your mobile phone to your email. The more distractions you can remove the more you’ll be able to spend your time wisely. 

Of course, whether something is a distraction or not depends on what you’re supposed to be doing at that moment. If you’re supposed to be having family time or quality time with your partner, then checking your work email is a distraction, but worrying about something you didn’t do at home when you’re at work makes home the distraction. 

11. Track your time 

Time and money have a major thing in common, and that is that so many of us have no ideas how we spend it.

And like money, time is currency. The most valuable in fact. Because unlike money, which you can make more of, once the time is gone, it’s gone for good. 

The challenge is that at the end of the month, while you can check your bank statements to see how much money you’ve spent, on what and where the same doesn’t automatically just happen with time. No one will send you that recept, all you have as evidence of misspent time is the incomplete tasks and unaccomplished goals. 

However, it doesn’t have to be like this. There are ways and means for you to track your time and it’s a good idea to do this first and foremost so that you know exactly what needs to change and improve from a time management perspective in your life. 

You can do this using a variety of apps, but you could also just use a good old-fashioned pen and paper and track your time and activities for a week. 

12. Eat that frog

The concept of eating frogs doesn’t sound very appetizing. But it could be the thing that changes your life. 

In her book, You Are Enough, Marissa Peer, who’s worked with lots of highly successful people in her career, explains that what she has seen time and time again is that the one thing that separates the successful and accomplished people from those who aren’t is their ability to do what they hate first.

This means, whatever it is that you’re putting off, that task that you dread, but the one that you know will move the needle, that’s the thing you should do first. 

In the book, Peer gives the example of how when she first started, she would spend her mornings’ cold calling newspapers, and magazines trying to get PR for herself, a task she truly hated. But while she hated this task with a passion, it’s what helped her to get the publicity that has spread her message, positioned her as an expert, and catapulted her to where she is today.

So, Bon appetite! 

13. Pomodoro technique 

The Pomodoro time management technique is a method of time management that was developed in the late 1980s by Francesco Cirillo. This method involves using a timer to break down work into intervals separated by short breaks. Of course, you can break down the intervals into any length of time that works best for you. 

As you probably guessed, this method of time management was named after the  Pomodoro kitchen timer. 

14. Follow 80/20 rule Pareto 

The Pareto principle states that “for many outcomes, roughly 80% of consequences come from 20% of causes”- Wikipedia. Applying this principle to time management, therefore, means focusing your efforts on the 20% of activities that yield 80% of the results you’re after. This way, you can do less, while getting a better return on the time you’ve invested. 

15. Rank tasks to manage your time wisely

When you have a never-ending to-do list, it can feel seriously overwhelming. So before you ever start working through the list, it’s important to know where to start, because the best place might not be at the top. 

Enter task ranking. Tasks need to be ranked and then allocated before you can start to tackle them – a way of prioritizing. How you rank tasks depends on your desired outcome and you can tailor it accordingly. For example, you could rank tasks based on how quickly you can complete them, or based on how complex they are, or even based on how urgent they are, the options are endless. 

The main point of ranking is that it gives you a way to break down the seemingly insurmountable never-ending long list into small pieces that you can begin to tackle. Just remember, when ranking your tasks, focus on what’s the most important outcome for you. 

16. Automate tasks to manage your time wisely

If you’re a user of Excel then the idea of automation is music to your ears because you’ll know how powerful it is and just how much time you can save by automating tasks. 

The truth is, most of us don’t automate nearly enough, both in our work and in our personal lives. This leads to us spending a lot longer on things than we need to. Not to mention it also means doing things repetitively.

Taking reporting as an example, I once had a report that I had to run. When it came time to create this report each week, there were certain elements that I would do, the same time after time. Until I woke up to what I was doing. This is what macros are for. 

When I finally recorded a simple macro, a task that took some 30 minutes to an hour was reduced to one minute or less!  So, what tasks do you perform in your work or daily life that could be automated? 

17. Automate decisions – IFTT 

Decision-making is one of the most important things you do, and it can take up a lot of time. But the truth is that some decisions are a drain on our time and a drain on our energy, because yes, there’s an energy cost to making decisions.

The more decisions you make, the more energy you use, so why not save that grey matter for things that count. To do this, you can automate some of the repetitive decisions you have to make and stop things from becoming decisions by setting rules. 

Setting RULES means that “If this happens” then “that happens”, and this process can be automated. A simple example is in your inbox. We all have junk or spam folders that remove some emails before they ever hit your inbox. This is because the system has spotted something and a particular rule is telling the system that because of this the email is spam.

Well, you can also set your own rules in your inbox- so IF you get an email from your BOSS it should automatically be sent into a special – MUST HANDLE folder, this way it won’t get lost and left unactioned in the hundreds of emails you have coming through… for example. 

To take things a step further you can set rules using IFTT. Here, you can create rules that connect all sorts of things!

If you have a business social media account, for example, you can set a rule that states that IF your company is mentioned, then you receive a notification email, for example. Or even, IF you post something on social media with a specific hashtag, then it a member of your team should get a notification to do something. The options are endless. 

The reason setting rules is a great time management technique is that it lets you make a decision once and then you never have to make that same decision again. Saving you a lot of time and brain space. 

18. Build habits 

One very specific way to save yourself time is to build habits. You might be wondering how building a habit can save you any time. But think about how much time you’ve spent in the past negotiating with yourself, or wondering whether or not you were in the mood to do something when a habit would have removed this decision-making process altogether.

Building all sorts of habits can save you time because it makes things automatic. You just do them without spending time deliberating.

19. Manage your energy levels

Something that many of us don’t think about is our natural energy levels. There will be times in the day when you’re really in your flow and you feel like you can do a million things, no problem! While other times, you feel tired, drained, or lacking energy. 

Instead of trying to do focused or taxing tasks when your mind is foggy, organizing your schedule and your day to do these types of activities when you’re most energized will save you lots of time. You’ll inevitably work at a faster pace and what’s more, your work quality will probably be better for it. 

20. Touch tasks once – one-touch system

How many times have you started something, gone off to do something else, come back to it, and almost had to start completely afresh?

Or how many emails do you read without actioning them, opting to action them later when you could deal with them at that moment.

And what about my personal favorite,  you email someone requesting some information and they send back half of what you asked for, and so the back and forth begins. 

Setting out to touch tasks once ( Or as few times as necessary) will save you a lot of time in the long run.

There are lots of things you can do about this. For example, if you’re requesting information, do yourself and the other person a favor by being clear on what you need, how you want it laid out, and why the information is required. And if you’re in the other position, try not to miss things out. 

When it comes to doing time-consuming tasks, allocate them the time they need. Block this time out, schedule it in your diary, and cut out distractions, so that you can get things completed in one sitting. It feels long in the moment but it’s a big-time saver compared to the alternative. And remember, it reduces the likelihood of errors. 

21. Follow 5 minutes or less rule 

I’ll do it in a minute.  We’ve all said it, and we’ve all NOT done it in a minute. Inevitably, something else took priority and that minute never came. Before you know it, what should have been a small stress-free task has become urgent.

You can avoid this by following the 5 minutes or less rule. Using this time management method, if a task will take 5 minutes or less, get it done now!

22. Set and enforce deadlines 

Tasks will expand to the time allowed. That could be an hour or eternity! When tasks don’t have deadlines it’s far too easy to take too much time over them or to not action them in a timely fashion. If a deadline hasn’t been enforced by your boss, client, or someone else, try putting one in place anyway. This way you’ll have an endpoint to work to and no time left to procrastinate.

23. Set and Work to goals 

Setting goals not only gives you motivation but also gives you focus. Working towards a goal helps you to be more specific about how you allocate your time and resources. This in turn means you make better progress because you know what the priorities are.

By breaking down big goals into smaller ones you can also avoid getting overwhelmed.

Woman writing to-do list

24. The to-do list

While goals might be something you want to achieve in a month or even a year, you need to focus your time on a day-to-day basis. To do this, work backward from your goal, breaking it down into the smallest steps possible. These will form the basis of your daily to-do list. 

By using a to-do list, especially one that’s based on your goals and priorities you can be sure that you’re using time wisely. 

25. Set boundaries, stop interruptions

When you’re trying to get things done, interruptions can seriously slow you down. With every interruption, you shift your focus back and forth and as we already discussed, this leads to tasks taking longer and more risk of errors. 

Avoid interruptions by setting boundaries and letting people know in advance when you’re not available and when you absolutely can’t be interrupted. 

26. Focus on results – tony robins rpm 

We all know that being busy doesn’t mean you’re making good progress or any progress at all. This is why it’s critical to always be focused on the results of your actions. Like the 80 20 rule, when you start to think about the results of your actions, you’ll probably find that there are some things that you can drop from your to-do list. 

Focusing on results means only doing things that create the results you’re after, or things that move you closer to the results you’re after. In other words, things that move the needle.

27. Stop being a perfectionist

Done is better than perfect. What’s more, perfection doesn’t exist. Yet it’s easy to fall into the trap of spending longer on tasks than we need to simply because we’re trying to make things perfect. 

Avoid this pitfall, and save yourself the time and stress you cause yourself when you aim for perfection.

28. Review your day

Reviewing your day each evening is a great way to ensure that you get off to a productive start come the following day. 

By reviewing your day, you can pick up on any changes or adjustments that you might need to make to your schedule and add new important actions while things are still fresh in your mind.

29. MIT

The MIT time management and productivity method is all about doing the Most Important Task. When you use this time management technique, instead of having a to-do list of all the tasks you need to complete, you’ll only focus on the most important tasks.

Your list could be as simple as 1 item, if this one item is substantial and highly critical, or it could mean having a list of 3 items. But whatever the number, ( and it should ideally be 3 items or less), you won’t think about or do anything else until these tasks have been completed. 

A really helpful question to ask yourself when using the M.I.T time management technique is “ If I can only do one thing today, what does this need to be?”

“If nothing else gets done, what’s the ONE thing that HAS to happen/be completed?”

30. Mornings for most important tasks 

In addition to the M.I.T time management technique, which is all about focusing on only the most important tasks, you can also take things a step further and block out your mornings for only the most important tasks. This way, you benefit from working on them before anything else has a chance to take over. 

31. RACI Matrix 

A RACI matrix is used in projects and with teams where cross-functional parties are involved at different levels. It clarifies exactly how each person is involved so that the project/work can be managed smoothly with clearly assigned roles. 

RACI stands for:

Responsible, as in the person responsible for doing the particular work. 

Accountable, this is the person who owns the work and therefore will need to give their sign off or approval before works can compete

Consulted: The person or parties that need to give their input before work can be done or signed off  

Informed: The person/ parties who need to be kept informed of the progress of work. However, informed parties don’t need to provide input or be consulted. 

The RACI matrix is particularly valuable within large complex organizations where it can be devastating to overlook an important person when working on a project ( not that I’ve done that before! )

32. Autofocus 

The Autofocus method is a technique for getting things done devised by Mark Forster. 

This method of managing tasks is a great alternative if your perhaps more creative and prefer not to work to an extremely rigid schedule. It allows you to select what you do and when you do it based on what you want to do at that moment, rather than being based on a set of priorities.

33. The Glass Jar Theory

In his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey gives a representation of how most of us spend our time in the form of the filling of a glass jar. 

In this representation, an empty glass jar is first filled with sand. The sand represents all the small tasks that take up our time. These are the types of small activities that can take up a lot of time but don’t yield big results, or any results in some cases. They can be stopped, delegated, or automated and should be. 

After the sand, medium-sized pebbles are poured in. Of course, these now sit on top of the sand and there is a limit to how many will fit into the jar. These are more important tasks. They are bigger, need more time, and are more important. 

Finally, the jar is filled with large rocks, these of course represent our most important tasks. But as you can imagine, by the time you try placing these large rocks into the jar, which is already filled with lots of sand and medium-sized pebbles, you can barely fit a single rock in.

If however, you start by placing the largest rocks into the jar first, then move onto the medium-sized pebbles and only at the end pour the sand in, the sand will find a way through the gaps between the rocks and pebbles and you will be able to fit much more in the jar. 

And so it goes with time management. If we always remember the glass jar and make sure we don’t fill our days with sand, we will be able to get much more of the important things done by the end of the day.

Bullet Journaling

Photo by Bich Tran from Pexels

34. Bullet journal – Bujo 

If writing things by hand works well for you and you’re looking for a more detailed yet quick and efficient method to manage your time in written format, then bullet journaling might be for you. 

In Bullet journalling, you plan and organize yourself using a journal, but the key here is that you use a range of symbols to represent tasks, notes, and actions, for quick annotation. The system is called Rapid logging and the different symbols are called bullets hence the name. 

If you’ve looked up bullet journalling on Instagram or Pinterest, you’ll find tons of stunning journal layouts and journal art. Although the main point of bullet journalling is using the rapid method, because you create the journal layout to suit you, as well as being able to select some of your symbols for notation, it’s opened the door for a lot of creative expression as a great fringe benefit. 

Here’s the best explanation of the bullet journaling method, so I won’t re-invent the wheel but highly recommend you check it out. 

35. The 1, 3, 5 Method by Alex Cavoulacos

The 1 3 5 technique, developed by Alex Cavoulacos, is based on the principle that you can only complete one big task, 3 medium size tasks, and 5 small tasks daily. This method eliminates endless to-do lists and instead, is a way to ensure you’re focused on a manageable list, while still getting important things completed. 

You start by completing the one big and important task, then move on to the 3 medium-sized tasks and finally work on the 5 smaller tasks on the list. 

36. Kanban 

Kanban is a simple and visual system used to manage tasks. It was established by Toyota as a way of improving efficiencies and workflows. 

Using kanban is as simple as having a board with 3 columns one for To Do, one for Doing, and a final one for Done. You then move tasks- either written on the board or on post it’s through each stage. 

You can also add additional stages depending on how you or your organization work, for example, backlog and/or review or sign-off.

Trello is a great tool that you could use if you decide that the Kanban time management technique is the best way for you to ensure that you use your time wisely.

37. Getting things done 

Getting Things Done is a productivity method that was outlined in David Alan’s book which has the same name. 

This process consists of 5 stages. These are:

  1. Capture: Wich involves the capture or “collection” of all activities/tasks/stuff to be done
  2. Clarify: This is where you ask different questions to understand how the item should be dealt with
  3. Organize: Where you decide how each item will be death with
  4. Reflect: This is where you plan your cause of action, and finally,
  5. Engage: Where you do what needs to be done. 

The result of this process is that tasks end up assigned to one of the following:

  • In the trash
  • On the someday/maybe list
  • In a neat reference filing system
  • On a task list, with the outcome and next action defined. If the “incomplete” is a “project” (i.e., if it will require two or more steps to complete)
  • Immediately completed and checked off if it can be completed in under two minutes
  • Delegated to someone else and added to a “waiting for” list if you need to follow up
  • On a context-based “next action” list if there is only one step to complete it
  • On your calendar

Using this method, you first focus on your day-to-day activities. The aim is to manage them effectively so that you free up your time to work on bigger goals and projects. 

This technique is the opposite of goal setting because it works from the bottom to the top. I goal setting, you work from the top-down, starting with the big end goal in mind and working backward to create smaller tasks from there. 

38. The to-don’t list / not-to-do list

We’ve all used a to-do list at some point or another, but a don’t do list? I never! Like saying no, the to-don’t list will free you up ahead of time from doing things that you should not be spending your time on.

Instead of deciding whether or not to do something as and when it comes up, by using a no-to-do list, when a time robbing task crops up, you will already have freed yourself up ahead of time, making the decision a no-brainer.