What Are Common Methods of Time Management?

K.C. Bruning

There are several different methods of time management that can be used to increase productivity. Some of the most popular are the timeboxing, Pareto analysis, and POSEC methods. Each of these methods focuses on building habits that encourage better use of time.

Timeboxing involves adhering to a specific schedule.
Timeboxing involves adhering to a specific schedule.

Timeboxing is one of the most common methods of time management. It involves dividing large tasks into smaller, more manageable portions by strictly adhering to a specific time schedule. The individual must first decide on a set of tasks and determine the approximate time it would take to finish each one. Then a timer is set for the appropriate time period at the start of each task. At the end of the allotted time, the individual must stop, whether or not the task has been completed, and rest or engage in some other enjoyable activity.

It may help to consult a professional organizer who assists people in better managing their time, priorities, and personal energies.
It may help to consult a professional organizer who assists people in better managing their time, priorities, and personal energies.

With the timeboxing time method, each of the tasks to be done is approached one at a time in their designated time periods. If there are tasks remaining after one cycle through all of the tasks, the same process is started again. This tends to be one of the most rewarding methods of time management because periods for rest or some other reward are built into the structure, thus increasing motivation.

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The Pareto analysis is also commonly referred to as the 80:20 rule. It was invented by an economist who suggested that 20 percent of causes creates 80 percent of problems. The first steps of the method include listing problems, finding the roots of those problems, and then grouping them by cause. Then the groups are rated by level of importance. The method is based on the belief that the group of problems with the highest level of importance will also typically be one of the smallest, or approximately 20 percent of the work load.

POSEC stands for prioritize by organizing, streamlining, economizing, and contributing. This is one of the most personal methods of time management. It operates under the belief that the things that affect individual security, such as money and personal issues, should be handled before other tasks.

The first step of POSEC is to identify goals and prioritize them from most to least important. The next step is for the individual to organize a schedule that ensures that daily personal goals are achieved. Next the individual must streamline the most unpleasant tasks, such as running errands, so that they take as little time as possible. The fourth step is to economize the least urgent pastimes, such as shopping for clothes or having lunch with friends. Finally, the individual will round out his or her time schedule by contributing to society through other important if not vital obligations.

Time management software.
Time management software.

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Discussion Comments


@Mor - Everyone has to come up with what works for them. I really need to be working towards a concrete goal rather than working to a schedule or I just won't manage well.

If I've got a specific goal, like a number of words that I have to complete then I will work hard to get to that goal.

I guess I prefer to work under pressure and then have the pressure taken off completely until the next time I need it.


@irontoenail - Ideally, I think that time management should necessarily have deadlines built into it, so much as just concentrated working times. So you wouldn't necessarily say to yourself that you have to finish your essay by ten, but that you will work on your essay for an hour, whether you finish it or not.

It requires enough discipline to start projects well before they need to be finished, or you might not get around to them in time. But I think it's better for effective time management in general.


What I find with time management techniques is that I have to be quite generous with the time I allot to each activity, because if I don't finish within the deadline I start to feel more and more discouraged as the day goes on. Even if I know the only reason I've finished a task ten minutes early is because I gave myself ten minutes more than it needed in the first place, I still feel a sense of achievement that makes me want to keep going with other tasks.

It's a bit silly, and I know that it doesn't really make sense, but it works for me much better than the alternative. And if I start feeling discouraged I tend to just give up on time management altogether.

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