Time management: more advanced techniques cont’d

… starting from the point where the story stopped.

The POSEC method

Prioritizing by Organizing, Streamlining, Economizing and Contributing.

This well-researched method, which is actually a strategy and not a method1, provides a framework for organizing tasks, depending on their importance and priority in relation to your goals. It is based on Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (see below), which means that it also considers a person’s necessities. Thus, personal goals and their fulfillment are put first, and properly applied, the prioritization proposed by this strategy balances and maintains a very good balance between personal and professional life.

For people swamped with work, this becomes a big deal as they get to plan for their own recreation and self-care, making the process an exciting experience.Rocket Station

Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

This is an idea in psychology – actually one of the best-known theories of motivation – proposed by American Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper A Theory of Human Motivation. It states that our actions are motivated by certain physiological needs. In other words, an individual can advance toward his development only if certain conditions are initially met.

Needs lower down in the hierarchy must be satisfied before individuals can attend to needs higher up.

In a simplified, five-tier model of human needs – often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid – the needs are: physiological (food, water, sleep, clothes, health, and shelter), safety (physical, economic), love and belonging needs (family and friendship), esteem, and self-actualization. According to the theory, a person initially must meet his necessities for food and safety, then those of socialization. When he reaches this level, he is considered to have the opportunity to fulfill his needs of self-respect and status in society.

The POSEC method is a way to divide your tasks into multiple categories according to their importance. You assign an ample amount of time and effort to each, but you attend to your responsibilities first. The POSEC steps are indeed as follows:

Prioritize. The first thing to do is to decide which goals you want to achieve and then list those goals in order of importance. Accordingly, you should plan on spending the most time on the goals you identify as the most important. Keep in mind that you can take into account the goals of [your] life or just the goals for the next day.1

Organize. This step involves organizing and planning the recurring obligations and tasks that you have to accomplish to achieve the goals you have identified, but also the things you have to accomplish regularly to be successful. Indeed, apart from the activities that are strictly related to [your] goals, [you] must take care of [your] financial situation and [your] family‘s well-being.1 Having these necessary tasks planned out gives you a sense of stability and security that allows you to move to the next step.

Streamline. In this step, you figure out ways to fulfill your crucial obligations and duties (i.e. work and chores) more efficiently; the things you may not like to do, but must do. While these are important for being able to live properly, any time you can save can be applied to goals and desires further down your list of priorities indeed. Specifically, by streamlining, you can budget time to achieve your non-critical goals (i.e. pastimes).

Economize. This step involves budgeting time for the non-essential goals that you would like to achieve. In practical terms, these are the items that are enjoyable or otherwise desirable, but which tend to fall toward the bottom of your list of priorities. They may be entertaining but they’re not urgent. Therefore, you should deal with them only after [you] have solved the tasks directly related to [your] goals, family, finances, or daily chores.1

Contribute. Achieving your tasks and goals should allow you to give back to society. You can also consider this step the delayed payoff from certain activities. In this final step, you can give back to the group because your own needs have already been fulfilled.

POSEC is a time management strategy and not a method. Therefore, it gives us broad lines on which to act upon, but not exact instructions.Mariana Holostenco

Yes, that’s my point, I don’t even get how this method strategy can be so effective.

The ALPEN method

It is the peak of efficiency: with the ALPEN method, you can make more efficient use of your work time with minimal effort. Careful prioritisation and additional buffer time reduce strain.Konica Minolta

The approach, which was developed by the German economist Prof. Lothar J. Seiwert, helps you to plan and structure your working days efficiently. The idea indeed is to prepare a timed to-do list including only selected tasks that should take priority. The ALPEN method also encourages you to work during scheduled time blocks and take pre-scheduled breaks to refresh and decompress. Based on the acronym ALPEN, it divides planning into five activities:

A (Aufgaben): Writing down tasks, appointments, and planned activities

L (Länge schätzen): Estimating length

P (Pufferzeiten einplanen): Planning buffer time

E (Entscheidungen treffen): Making decisions

N (Nachkontrolle): Following-up

The ALPEN method is a proponent of prioritizing a few tasks, which results in a doable list—not a never-ending one that keeps piling tasks on your plate.Masooma Memon

The first step involves creating a list of all your to-dos, no matter how big or small. Ideally, you should do this on the evening before the next day. Don’t forget to add all your appointments and breaks. You can also add any pending work left from the day before.

The next step is to make a note of how long you think each task is going to take. This will help you to divide your time effectively when it comes to planning how you are going to spend your day. The total planned time gives you an idea of whether you can manage your planned daily workload. It’s important not to make your schedule too tight.

Because it’s impossible to rule out delays, you should include buffer times in your plans. That way you won’t get behind schedule even if you underestimate how long something will take and ensure that your plan doesn’t get derailed by unpredictable interruptions. The APLEN Method suggests that 40% of your day should be allocated to this extra buffer time, with 20% to cover any complications and 20% for breaks.

The question then arises: Is it at all possible to manage your workload with 60% of your time? This is the point of the next step: pruning your list by prioritizing tasks.2 What do you need to get done first? What is more, what is less important? What can be delegated? Is there anything that’s not necessary and can be dropped? Once you’ve edited, you can then put together a schedule of everything you need to get done and how long you have given yourself to complete it.

In the evening, check how successful your planning was and whether you’ve achieved your goals. Indeed, this method lives off experience values; make any adjustments that are required and move any pending tasks into your ‘To-do’ list for the next day2. And while you are at it, you can already create the plan for the next working day.

The ALPEN method is as simple as it is effective . . . It focuses the user on pragmatic daily planning and consistent setting of priorities. And it only requires around five minutes of planning each day.Prof. Lothar J. Seiwert

Yep, but it also uses only 60% of your working time when I would need at least 200%!


My system incorporates getting to the root cause of why you don’t have enough time and what you can do about it.Peggy Duncan

The Clear-Organized-Productive-Efficient (COPE) technique, which was developed by the American productivity expert Peggy Duncan, helps you to eliminate low-value activities and prioritize everything so that you can focus on the things with the most impact. It includes the following steps:

Clear. Get clear on your goals.

Organized. Organize everything you must do.

Productive. Prioritize your tasks and goals.

Efficient. Work on finishing the priority items.

You follow this method by first reviewing how you currently spend your day, i.e. by logging all of your activities. The idea is to identify and eliminate time-wasters. Next, you make organization a priority, ensuring everything is in its proper place. Then, you prioritize your tasks and work on them one at a time without multitasking. In keeping with productivity, you can systemize your repetitive tasks, and let the majority of your time be spent on main tasks.

Unfortunately, I could not find enough information to convince me.

Summing up

There are only so many hours per day, even as we push back the frontiers of sleeplessness.James Fallows

Again, I am well aware that time management is not a magic trick to create time, but I was naïvely hoping for some miracles. Unfortunately, I did not find any game-changer so far (except for time blocking maybe; see Time management: more advanced techniques). Instead, the more I have searched on the topic, the more I realized that I will need even more time (than I initially thought) if only to stay healthy!

The care and attention you give yourself is an important investment of time. Scheduling time to relax, or do nothing, can help you rejuvenate both physically and mentally, enabling you to accomplish tasks more quickly and easily. Conversely, poor time management can result in fatigue, moodiness, and more frequent illness. Really!?

Consider your health. Take breaks, get rest, and don’t work on your holidays or every weekend. Have some periods of complete downtime. And sleep!Kate Eby

Coming next: prioritization

1 Mariana Holostenco (2020)The POSEC Method. PlanArty. ^
2 Masooma Memon (2020) Better Organize Your Day With This Time Management Technique. Trello. ^

What do you think?
  • Like 
  • Agree 
  • Disagree 
  • Thank you