Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge: Time Management (3 Techniques)

Posted July 18, 2014 by Stormy in Books / 23 Comments

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I hope everyone’s Bloggiesta is going well! For this mini-challenge today I’m going to be focusing on time management. Between blogging, school or work, and general life, us bloggers tend to be busy people–which means sometimes things pass us by! I tend to take on several different projects, and I’ve been over the past few years trying out some various time management techniques. I’m going to share a few of my favorites with you guys today–and hopefully you’ll be able to implement them to get some productive blogging tasks done!

Method #1: The Prioritizing Technique

I first learned about this technique in a class I took in college. I really like using this method for longer projects(things that will take weeks or months) because it’s good about showing you where you want to focus your time. The way this technique works is like this:

1. Write out a list of task.

2. Besides each task, assign the task a numeric value for how much time it will take, on a scale from 1 to 3, with 1 being won’t take much time at all and 3 being time-intensive.

3. Once you’ve assigned each task a numeric value for the time component, assign each task a numeric value for difficulty on the same scale. A 1 would be an easy task, whereas a 3 would be incredibly difficult.

4. Add these values together and use the numeric time value X difficulty value to give yourself a visual representation of how long and difficult each task will be.

For example, a bloggiesta to-do list using this method might look something like this:

  • Update review archive(time–2, difficulty–1, total: 3)
  • Write 3 book reviews(time–3, difficulty–2, total: 5)
  • Redesign entire blog(time–3, difficulty–3, total: 6)
  • Comment on 15 blogs(time–2, difficulty–1, total: 3)

Once you have this information, I’ve found it is often easier for me to decide where and when I want to concentrate on each task. I’ve done a more in-depth post on how I use this technique if you’re interested in more information.

Method #2: The Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is fairly well-known, so you may have heard of it before. I’ve only recently in the past few months heard of it and have begun trying it. Here’s a video that explains it:

In case you can’t access the video, here’s how this technique works:

1. Set a timer for a 25 minute interval and work on a specific task, and only that task. Part of this technique is learning how to block out distractions–phone calls, other tasks, etc.

2. After every 25 minutes, take a 5 minute break.

3. Each 25 minute segment is called a “Pomodoro”. After using this technique for awhile, you’ll begin to be able to estimate how many Pomodoros specific task take.

4. The video doesn’t mention it, but I’ve also heard this technique told in a similar way with an addition–if you’re working on many tasks straight through and complete 4 Pomodoros in a row, take a longer 30 minute break in between each set of 4 Pomodoros.

There are several mobile Apps dedicated to this technique. I’ve downloaded a few recently and plan on trying them out soon– Pomotodo(looks like it’s also a available for Android)Pomodoro, and Orange Timer(which is slightly different from the Pomodoro technique, but still based upon it. I haven’t used them much yet but I will say from a few quick glances that the free version of the Pomodoro app seems not really worth it(but it looks like the $1.99 version might be great), and Pomotodo seems the most functional–but I like the look of Orange Timer the best.

Method #3: Productivity Heat Mapping

I first learned about this technique from one of Susan Dennard’s Pub(lishing) Crawl posts about productivity, and I was intrigued. There’s a really great blog post about how Heat Mapping Your Productivity Can Make You More Productive. I suggest giving the entire thing a read if you have the time.

To use this method, first download and print off this worksheet. Watch how productive you are during each hour. There’s a color code on the explanatory post, but I created my own. After every hour of work, I would use a marker to color in my productivity. My personal color code is thus:

  • GREEN is the highest level of productivity. I’m doing complex tasks, doing them well, and not feeling tired at all.
  • BLUE is the second highest level. I’m doing complex tasks & doing them well, but it’s taking me more effort.
  • YELLOW is the third level of productivity. I can do complex tasks, but I’m probably not doing them well or efficiently. I can do menial tasks very well at this level, however.
  • RED is the lowest level of productivity. It’s taking me a lot of effort to keep working and I can really only manage meaningful task.

You can do a productivity heat map over the course of the day, but it will only be so accurate. When I first used this method, I made a new heat map every day for 3 weeks, then made a composite by seeing how productive I typically was at each time.

Here’s a picture of my heat map:

photo 1

This is a 3 week composite. As you can see, I’ve found my most productive time of day is between 9 and 12 AM, and I can also be pretty productive in the evenings(from 5 to 8). I’m least productive in the afternoons, especially from 2 to 3. This fits in pretty well with what I know about myself–at work, I always try to do complicated task in the morning and save routine tasks, like updating spreadsheets and making copies, for the afternoon.

 

Once you’ve done the heat maps for awhile, you’ll have a clear picture of what times you’re most naturally productive, and when you should focus on more complex task.

CHALLENGE

So here’s your Bloggiesta challenge: to try at least ONE of these techniques this weekend and see if it works for you. Here’s some ways you can do this(just suggestions–there are really a ton of ways you can implement these techniques and tweak them):

  • Download a Pomodoro app & use the timer to sync with your to-do list
  • Prioritize your Bloggiesta task list using the numeric priotizing technique OR if you keep a more lengthy blogging to-do list, try it with that as well
  • Download the productivity heat mapping print-out and track your productivity throughout one day of mini-Bloggiesta this weekend.

Giveaway

This giveaway is open internationally! International readers can win up a book up to $10 as long as you live in a place The Book Depository ships to. If the winner lives in the USA, they can also pick a book up to $10 from The Book Depository OR a $10 e-gift card to Amazon if they prefer. My giveaway policy.

  • Must be 13 years old or older to enter. If under 18, must have parental permission.
  • No purchase necessary & void where prohibited by law.
  • Winning entries are verified.

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23 responses to “Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge: Time Management (3 Techniques)

  1. joyweesemoll

    I love pomodoros. In fact, I just used pomodoros to complete my book review of The Pomodoro Technique, scheduled for Thursday!

  2. I haven’t heard of the Pomodoro technique. I commonly do a more simplified version of the Prioritizing technique, as I generally make a list, and number the items on the list, and I’ve been known to estimate how long it will take me to do each task, so I don’t overextend myself. But I tried this more extensive version on my “to do” list, and it did make it really easy to separate the simple tasks from the more complicated/time-consuming ones. Thanks for the tip!

    • Stormy

      No problem! I started doing it during a college class(it was required) and I found I really loved it. I find it especially helpful for long projects with a lot of parts!

  3. I never heard about the Pomodoro technique before, thank for sharing. Do you know if there is an app for computers? I don’t like cell phones/smartphones xD

    • Stormy

      I hope it helps! If nothing else, I’ve found it helps me to understand how long certain task will actually take, and then I can guess where I’ll be using my time better.

    • Stormy

      Yup, that focus on the time can be gold! I find it so much easier to do things if I know there’s a set amount of time to work on it & then I get a break.

    • Stormy

      I really like that one! It’s a little bit more in-depth than some of the others & you can sometimes eat up so much time figuring it out then actually doing task that it doesn’t always work, but I find it helpful for ongoing projects that have multiple parts.

  4. The Pomodoro sounds extremely useful! Especially for me since I have the worst time management and productivity skills on the planet. Will definitely try that out. Thanks for the giveaway! 🙂

  5. I’d heard of the Pomodoro technique before, though no one had ever really used its name before. I wished I’d understood it better when I was at university! It sounds like the kind of technique that would work well for me. I’m going to give it a try later, when I try to catch up on my reviews!

    • Stormy

      Yeah, I’ve always heard of techniques vaguely like the Pomodoro, but never so in-depth. It definitely helps with productivity, though I’ve found if I’m trying to do creative task it doesn’t work as well for me, just because with those kind of tasks I’d rather do it all at once & then take a longer break. For other stuff though, especially like in my past job, it worked so well!

  6. The Pomodoro technique looks really good – I always struggle with over-multi-tasking to the point where nothing significant gets done and I get stressed!

    • Stormy

      I think that’s a huge benefit of the technique–it forces you to concentrate for just 25 minutes, on one task, and it all seems so much more manageable that way.

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