Can Time-Tagging Your To-Do List Help You Increase Productivity?

to do listI’m always on the look-out for time management tips to help me improve my personal productivity. I recently heard about a concept called “time-tagging” from Jack Cheng, and I’ve decided to give it a try this week.

Time-tagging seems like a simple concept. When you make your to-do list for the day or week, put a time-tag next to each item on the list, noting the approximate length of time you think it will take to accomplish the task.

According to Jack, time-tagging will help you . . .

  • Filter – If you’ve got 20 minutes until the next meeting, don’t just kill time doing mindless stuff until the meeting starts (because you know you don’t have enough time to do something “big”). So take a quick look at your list and find a couple of tasks that you can easily accomplish during that 20 minute period.
  • Clarify – Sometimes we put off doing things because we think they are bigger and more time-consuming than they really are.  By thinking about how much time the task will take, you move one step closer toward achieving it.  And we’re able to break-down large tasks into less daunting steps.  Jack follows the 5-60 rule:  if it takes less than 5 minutes, don’t write it down – do it now.  And if it takes longer than 60 minutes, it probably needs to be broken down into a few smaller, more manageable steps.
  • Democratize – By identifying how much time each task or project takes, you see which projects are more important than other ones, based on the weight of time it takes to accomplish them (though this won’t always be the case).  Sometimes we do what we “feel” like doing, not what we know we should work on.  Seeing things in terms of time give our conscious minds some leverage — that extra little boost we need to overcome the mental hurdles that stand in the way of putting creative energy toward something amazing.

Like I said earlier, I’m going to give time-tagging a try this week, and I’ll let you know how it goes.

Does anyone else use time-tagging? If so, how is it working for you?  Has it increased your productivity?

You might also like:
How to balance your time
How to shave ten hours off your work week
Can email addiction keep you from achieving your goals?


  1. […] Yep, it’s happened to me…and I’m pretty sure it’s happened to all of us at one time or another.  I’ve noticed that when I fritter away my morning, or day, like this and have nothing to show for it, I start to feel the stress level rising.  I start to feel overwhelmed because I haven’t made progress on the important things on my to-do list. […]

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