My Simple Strategies for Effective Time Management

Merve Yılmaz
6 min readFeb 4, 2023

Do you have a multitude of things you want to do but lack the time? This article might be for you.

Photo by Morgan Housel on Unsplash

There are many things I want to accomplish in my life. Obtain a master’s degree, achieve success in my new career, become an intellectual individual, stay physically fit, be a good daughter and spouse, and more.

For years, I thought I wouldn’t have enough time to manage all my desires and that I couldn’t do everything at once. How could I work on my career, pursue research in school, consistently create content on Medium, attain a master’s degree, stay active in sports, and be a good friend and spouse, all within a 24-hour day? Even if a day had 30 hours, it would still be a challenging task to do all these things.

I mention all this because I’m sure I’m not alone and there are many people who feel the same way. If you feel this way, you can continue reading this article. In this post, I will share with you four methods that helped me improve my time management.

By applying the principles I will discuss, I was able to continue my education and work two jobs while building a new career. I have come to see that if a person truly wants to, they can have enough time for everything. Let’s see how.

1. 25/5 Rule

I would first like to talk about Warren Buffett’s 25/5 rule. You may have heard this famous story:

The 25/5 rule is based on a conversation between Warren Buffett, the famous business magnate, and his pilot. Briefly, the conversation went like this: Buffet told the pilot searching for the secret of a successful life to write down 25 things he wanted to have in life. Then, he asked the pilot to select the 5 most important things from the list of 25.

Buffet then asked the pilot what he should do next. The pilot responded by saying that his priority would be the 5 things he selected and he would take care of the other 20 in his remaining time. Buffet then said that he should throw away the 20 and focus on the 5 he selected.

Okay, it’s a nice story, but how did I use this method and what was the result? I want many things, but if I don’t have the time and energy to do them, focusing on my priorities consumes the energy I need to spend on my priorities.

When I learned this rule, which was about 2 years ago, I wrote down the 25 things I wanted to have in life and later narrowed it down to 5. Having a job that is out of my education was one of them, and I channeled my energy into that.

Making a list and actually seeing what I need to focus on in my life clarified many things for me. I don’t prioritize one of the 20 other items as my priority anymore. The human mind is not capable of handling several tasks at the same time. Yes, I could still take care of the other 20 items in my free time, but I wouldn’t have reached my desired job as quickly.

2. Eat That Frog

https://www.getclockwise.com/blog/how-i-eat-my-frogs

“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”

Mark Twain

When I set a new goal for myself, my initial motivation and energy are high. However, over time, this energy slows down and disappears due to inner obstacles. I decided to listen to Mark Twain and it changed a lot for me.

If I feel motivated for a job, I definitely do not delay and go to do what I need to do. This doesn’t have to be a new day. But when starting a new day, I choose the hardest task that I need to do before my troubles and daily rush start. If I hadn’t done this, the job in front of me could take a long time, or I could even delay it. Although sometimes it’s as hard as it gets, I try to stick to this rule.

During the day, I immediately handle the things that appear most difficult to me because easy tasks progress in some way as my energy decreases. At the same time, the motivation from finishing a difficult task also creates motivation and energy for other tasks.

3. Parkinson’s Law

The Parkinson’s Law is based on the idea that “a task always expands to fill the time allotted for its completion.

Let me give you an example from my own life. I assumed that a task would take longer and never be completed on time, so I calculated accordingly. Guess what happened? In short, I allocated 6 months for the task, given that the task would take long time. In the end, it was not near to be completed until the last days of that 6 months. But if I would allocate 3 months for that 6-month task, it could still take longer than 3 months, but it wouldn’t take 6 months either.

This was the same for my thesis too. But I could have just written it and gotten rid of it earlier. Now, when I allocate time for tasks in my life, my priority is when I want them to be completed.

Even if I don’t do a task, I keep my mind occupied with it until the time I should have done it. I don’t need that. The best thing is to complete tasks as soon as possible and move on to the next stage. So I must say that this law has opened a new door in my time management.

4. Pareto Principle

The Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, is a well-known economic principle that suggests that 80% of the outcomes are a result of 20% of the causes. For example, you may have heard the phrase that 80% of the world’s wealth is owned by 20% of the population.

Here’s how it relates to my self-improvement journey: I realized that 20% of my efforts result in 80% of my successes. I reflected on the amount of time I actually put into a project that ended up being successful and noticed that I sometimes spent too much time on things like choosing the right font or graphics for a presentation, which didn’t have a significant impact on the success of the project.

As a result of this realization, I’ve adopted the Pareto Principle in my writing on Medium. When I have a topic I truly want to share, I don’t get bogged down in the details. English is my second language and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to write perfectly, so I don’t spend too much time trying to.

As I finish

The four elements that have contributed to my time management are:

-The 25/5 rule: Prioritizing my tasks
-The frog-eating method:
Tackling the hardest task first
-Parkinson’s Law:
Planning to complete tasks in the shortest time necessary
-The 80/20 rule:
Avoiding spending excessive time on tasks that don’t add value to my life

As I’ve experienced, we all have time and ability to achieve something in life, but we often spend too much time on things that don’t bring us any benefits. The key is not to run out of time, but to manage it. When we’re able to manage our time effectively, we’re able to move forward.

--

--

Merve Yılmaz

• UX Designer •Istanbul Technical University •Top writer in Self Improvement, Health, Life Lessons & Life.