Man­ag­ing time effec­tively is a mat­ter of cul­ti­vat­ing a con­sis­tent and delib­er­ate habit through a num­ber of easy steps, says Peter Breg­man, sug­gest­ing a three-stage process: detailed plan­ning, refo­cussing (sched­uled breaks) and reviewing.

I’ve dab­bled with The Pomodoro Tech­nique and GTD and nei­ther have really helped me (granted, I don’t have chronic time-management issues and instead just har­bour a desire to be more effi­cient), and I’m unsure whether Bregman’s sug­gested tech­nique would help those in need of help.

How­ever, what I did like from Breg­man is the idea of cre­at­ing an ignore list in addi­tion to a to do list, and this brief look at stud­ies show­ing the impor­tance of cre­at­ing detailed sched­ules and plans:

In their book The Power of Full Engage­ment, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz describe a study in which a group of women agreed to do a breast self-exam dur­ing a period of 30 days. 100% of those who said where and when they were going to do it com­pleted the exam. Only 53% of the oth­ers did.

In another study, drug addicts in with­drawal (can you find a more stressed-out pop­u­la­tion?) agreed to write an essay before 5 p.m. on a cer­tain day. 80% of those who said when and where they would write the essay com­pleted it. None of the oth­ers did.

If you want to get some­thing done, decide when and where you’re going to do it. Oth­er­wise, take it off your list.