Most time management tips talk about using your time wisely. This is most often reflected in spending a larger amount of time on the most important tasks. However, most people don’t know the specific steps to do so. The 60-30-10 rule of time management explains just that.
Today, we are here to give you a thorough guide on this technique.
What Does the 60-30-10 Rule of Time Management Entail?
The name of the technique tells everything without saying much. Namely, the numbers signify percentages of working time. So, this method means dedicating 60% of your time to the most important tasks. 30% should go into mid-tier tasks, and the last 10% into tasks that aren’t as important but will help you prepare for the next day.
Saying it like this may sound simple. Yet, once you start thinking the method through, you may be confused. After all, we all sometimes get lost in our tasks and forget to prioritize. So, let’s define the categories first.
60% – the Most Important Tasks
Most employees don’t only do one task. Their duties are a collection of types of different activities, often related to different projects. Yet, a certain hierarchy among tasks will appear almost in all cases.
Simply put, not all tasks carry the same weight. Many are menial or related to administration. On the other hand, there are some tasks that need to be done as soon as possible. Whether it’s their importance, an approaching deadline, or some other factor, something increases the value of these activities.
You may have guessed it now – but the more urgent tasks are the ones you should dedicate most of your attention to. These tasks are what propels your company’s projects forward. They are parts of big and important goals. Simply put, they are high-value, especially compared to other activities.
30% – Less Important Activities
The tasks you should dedicate 30% of your time to are most often related to administrative tasks and communication. Depending on your position, the types of tasks may vary. However, what connects all 30% of tasks in the 60-30-10 rule of time management is that they are necessary. Yet, at the same time, they are less valuable than the first group. That is why they get half the time dedicated to high-priority tasks.
We have given you the most basic example of administrative tasks. Yet, they are not a universal example. Namely, if you work in the administration department or even a company that handles administration, these tasks will take up most of your time. In other words, you will have to weigh the importance of your tasks individually, based on multiple criteria and the nature of your field.
10% – Make Tomorrow Easier
The tasks in this tier aren’t necessarily important, but make your life easier in the long term. They are most often dedicated to personal planning and organization. For example, if you are using a to-do list to keep track of your tasks, you can revise it. This also means starting a new list for tomorrow.
We cannot overstate the importance of organization. Both in the 60-30-10 rule of time management and in general. However, most of us don’t have the time during the busiest part of our day to organize, as we are focused on more pressing matters. This method of time management gives you time to do just that. Whether it’s finishing up the current day through filling your timesheets, or figuring out your priorities for tomorrow, dedicate 10% of your workday to making your life easier.
What Effects Task Priority?
As we have previously mentioned, there are multiple factors that impact the importance of a task. Generally, though, you should focus on your primary job. In the professional service industry, this means focusing on the tasks that move clients’ projects along. In other words, most of your time should go into billable hours.
There are some exceptions, too. For example, changes can happen at the company level. Alternatively, you can get a new urgent project that completely disregards your previous priorities. It is important to recognize these things and keep some sort of record of them. It can be your own task list on a piece of paper or a change in the schedule in the project management software the company uses. Either way, it is important to note the changes and prioritize accordingly.
Time of the year can have an effect on task priority as well. For example, accountancy businesses have to regroup at the end of the fiscal period. On the other hand, sales work differently during the holidays. The examples are numerous and depend on your location as well.
The Goals of the 60-30-10 Rule of Time Management
Why should you use the rule? Let’s explore its goals and the way it affects your time.
Productivity and Efficiency
As you may have guessed, the end goal of the rule is an increase in productivity. Going through relevant tasks first increases it in and of itself. Meanwhile, your efficiency will also rise, as you will be able to dedicate more time to the important tasks.
The lack of distractions is the biggest advantage following the 60-30-10 rule brings. Namely, you will be sure you have blocked off some time for the less important and time-consuming activities. This awareness will allow you to focus on what’s really important.
Increase in Quality of Work
Being able to focus on a specific task is the best way to get high-quality results. The 60-30-10 rule of time management allows just this focus. If you have blocked off the most of your day for an important task (or two of them depending on your schedule), you will not be forced to multitask. Multitasking is one of the biggest hurdles to deep focus. This is true as you will have to switch your focus from one activity to another. With the 60-30-10 rule, the switches aren’t necessary. Except when your superiors say otherwise, of course.
The chances of having a huge amount of tasks piled up are very slim when you’re using this method. that is to say, each task and type of task has its designated time for completion. The method also requires you to reexamine your priorities and gives you time (10% of it, to be exact) to make changes to your plans.
When revising your work in the last leg of the workday, make sure to factor in the deadlines for different projects. Of course, some hiccups are bound to happen if your entire team isn’t on board. That is why we suggest trying this time management method on a team or even company level. That way you’ll prevent a stress-inducing backlog.
Alternative Goals (Long-Term)
You may be wondering how this rule can help you in your specific case. The answer is – sometimes it can’t. Sometimes the type of work you do dictates your daily schedule. On the other hand, some jobs don’t have enough lower-priority tasks to fill one-third of your workday.
However, most office employees can learn a lot from this principle. As we have mentioned, prioritizing is an important skill. The 60-30-10 rule itself doesn’t have strict rules on what exactly you should be doing. Yet, you will have to determine your priorities once you start using this method.
Both prioritizing and time organization are results of using this rule. So is understanding how much time each activity takes. Hence, another long-term goal you’ll accomplish relates to more accurate time frames. These, in turn, enable you to make better assessments for your clients. In other words, you’ll avoid the hassle and unnecessary project extensions.
The time management principle we have described offers structure. This is great for any employee, but especially ones just starting work and those approaching burnout. Even though it may seem rigid, this rule also allows some leeway. Namely, you don’t have to follow the rule with no exceptions. There are numerous variations, like 50-30-20 or the 40-30-20-10 rule.
However you decide to distribute your time, you will need to account for breaks as well. No one can work for full 8 hours. especially not every day. Breaks are a crucial part of productivity as well, and any good employer will encourage their employees to use them and re-energize.
The 60-30-10 rule of time management is one of the more popular techniques. The cause for this is the rule’s stability which still offers some flexibility. In other words, it is a great guideline you can adjust to your needs.
That is to say, the rule is more about understanding your priorities and organizing your time to suit them, rather than blindly following them. It is more important to learn how to work efficiently. The 60-30-10 rule makes this possible, as it removes distractions (less important tasks) not by completely eliminating them, but by giving you some time for them specifically.
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