Every Minute Counts: 5 Rules of Time Management


The rhythm of our life is constantly growing and perfect pictures on Facebook and Instagram makes you feel like everyone around is more successful than you. To overcome this feeling, you should stop comparing yourself to others. Instead, try to become a better version of yourself, a little more productive and happier than yesterday. For a start, reconsider how you spend your time, using the 5 proven principles of time management.

Eat the frog

The advice “to eat the frog” is classics of time management. This is a reference to the Mark Twain’s famous phrase: “If it's your job to eat a frog, it's best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it's your job to eat two frogs, it's best to eat the biggest one first.” That means that you should handle the most difficult and terrible task in the morning without any delays.

If there are several such tasks, start with the worst one from your point of view. It is very difficult to make yourself do this work at first, but over time you will get used to it and become more effective. Besides, the work itself will seem easier and won’t bother you so much.

Deadline and Timing

A strict deadline must be set for each task. If there is no deadline, you will constantly postpone the task and it will get more and more complicated in the meantime. If there are a lot of tasks, you should set very precise deadlines up to hours and minutes: the report must be finished by 2 pm, the plan for the next week has to be completed by 4.30 pm, the assignment for the contractor must be ready by 5 pm, etc.

To define the time-frames precisely, you must understand how much time you spend on each type of tasks. There is only one way to do it: to keep track of your time.

There are a lot of time trackers on the Internet: RescueTime, Toggle, TopTracker, Time, Hours - you can choose any of them. Install it and keep track of how you spend your time. In about a month, above everything else, you will understand, what things take too many hours and what tasks should be optimized.

The rule of two minutes

There is the rule of two minutes in time management: “If something can be done in two minutes, do it now”. The advice is perfect for home chores. The jeans on the back of the chair don’t make the room cozier. You can put them away to the wardrobe in a minute and the room will be much cozier.

However, this approach is not advisable for work. Two-minute tasks often turn out to be routine in which you can get bogged down completely. If you get distracted by every incoming message (two minutes only!) you risk not finishing the main task. It is better to devote a couple of hours to communication with the colleagues and focus on your tasks for the rest of the time.


Urgent or important?

Stephen Covey says that there are two scales to assess every activity: “urgent - non-urgent” and “important - unimportant”. Defining the “important and urgent” category is easy: if a pipe bursts in the room, this is really important and urgent. The “non-urgent and unimportant” activities are time-killers: social network, TV, useless gossips about other people’s life.

The most complicated category is “urgent, but not important”. Urgency can puzzle you and make you do unimportant things. For example, a message in a messenger (or a phone call) seems to be an urgent issue, but very often doesn’t have any importance. By the way, this is the reason why phone calls without previous arrangement irritate so many people: a message can be postponed to the more convenient time, but the call distracts greatly. Mute your phone when you are busy with the important task. If the caller has an important issue, he or she will call you back later.

The “important, but not urgent” task is not pressing but will make your life better. There should be much more of such tasks than any others. Going in for sports is important: you will grow stronger and more energetic. Your immunity will improve, and there will be less risk of age-related diseases. There is no urgency about that, so you will have to make yourself go to a gym at first. Plan sport, education and other useful activities precisely. Don’t hope that they will happen “somehow by themselves”, in your free time. They won’t because you will spend your free evening on Facebook again.

Time is money

I advise understanding the popular saying “Time is money” literally: count how much an hour of your work costs. This number will help you to assess the rationality of each purchase. For example, there is a salary of $700 and a dishwasher for the same price. It’s hard to tell at once if it is worth buying. But count the price of a working hour. With the standard work schedule, it is about $4. Let’s say, the dishwasher saves you an hour a day which is 365 hours a year. 365 hours of your time cost more than $1400. Now you see that the purchase is more than reasonable. Moreover, the dishwasher won’t disappear in a year. During this year, you can get new skills and increase your incomes. The same applies to cleaning, cooking, and other chores.

Time is the most precious of all resources because it doesn’t renew. Worst of all, many people understand it too late. If you treat your time carelessly, you should start your new life right now. You can do it.