Time management to reduce your stress

If there’s one way to reduce significantly your stress, it’s by finding ways to manage time that will work with your business. I usually manage 10-15 projects at any given day, small and long-term. So how do I do it?

My system

I have a system. If you know me, you already know that I looooove my systems, they tend organize my ADHD. So my system is the combination of two techniques and some tools.

1. The Pomodoro Technique

So the Pomodoro technique consist to work for a timed period and then when the timer rings (the Pomodoro is an Italian kitchen timer shaped like a tomato) you stop WHETHER YOU’VE FINISH YOUR JOB OR NOT and you take a short break. This period is called a Pomodoro. When 4 Pomodoro have passed, you take a big break. For my part, a Pomodoro is 25 minutes + a 5 minute break (so 30 minutes total) and a big break lasts 30 minutes.

You can read more on the website of Pomodoro.

2. GTD: Getting Things Done

Getting Things Done is a technique / process invented by David Allen. Here’s the process:

  1. Census: note immediately any project receiving attention – event, object, document, idea – and could potentially require further action.
  2. Treatment: to formulate any proposed project to produce a concrete result. Once there are several things to do to achieve this result concrete, making the first concrete action by which the trigger (noted on the list of corresponding operating context), the following actions as part of a project.
  3. Organization: setting up reminders without waiting for action which can be executed immediately, either in a calendar (time locked) or in a list in proper context (« Home », « Phone », « Shopping ». ..) or in a list « pending » if an action is outsourced, or placed in a schedule (especially when there are documents or evidence), ranking baseline.
  4. Review: review frequently – and comb through at least once a week in the « weekly review » – all tasks and ongoing projects and new.
  5. Action: … so that we can always rely on its list of actions in choosing what should be given priority at any given time.

(Source: wikipedia)

It sounds very harsh and complicated, but I assure you it’s not. Here’s how I apply it in tandem with the Pomodoro

To focus my time on one task at a time on a specific and short laps of time is designed to improve my efficiently.

On Monday I determine a list of tasks for the week, in order of priority. This list is written (see photo) by hand and contains a column for the number of Pomodoro completed for each task (so I can compile my time for my projects at the same time). Note that I look at my emails in a Pomodoro, and not every 5 minutes. To focus my time on one task at a time on a specific and short laps of time is designed to improve my efficiently. I have no time to lose myself on Facebook because I ONLY HAVE 25 minutes to do my research online!

We tend to put everything urgent, which has the effect of increasing our stress and reduce our production.

If I have any unexpected task that comes up during the week, I write them at the bottom of my sheet and I do them according to their urgency. Note that true emergencies are rare. We tend to put everything urgent, which has the effect of increasing our stress and reduce our production. Tasks not completed during the week are postponed to the next week. On Friday I compile my time in my accounting software.

My Tools:

I use Basecamp to manage my projects. It contains a production schedule and lists of tasks, and I’m able to store files and to communicate with my clients.

I use Time Out for Mac, a free application that allows me to set a timer on my screen. When my Pomodoro is over, my screen becomes unreadable for 5 minutes 🙂 It forces me to get up and move.

So this is my technique to manage my time 🙂 If you try it, let me know if it made a difference in your productivity. How about you, what are your tips and your time handling methods to reduce your stress?

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