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.